In the Know: A Taste of Chicago Bistro opens in East Naples

TIM ATEN
Augustina's Bistro A Taste of Chicago, 3300 Davis Blvd., opened March 13 on the southeast corner of Airport-Pulling Road and Davis Boulevard in East Naples.

Photo by TIM ATEN // Buy this photo

Augustina's Bistro A Taste of Chicago, 3300 Davis Blvd., opened March 13 on the southeast corner of Airport-Pulling Road and Davis Boulevard in East Naples.

Q: What is the latest with the Chicago restau­rant opening on the corner of Airport and Davis?

— Katie D., Naples

Q: I go by Taste of Chi­cago twice a day (to and from work). I think they’ve done a great job turning an eyesore into a beauti­ful piece of property. But when in the world are they opening?

— Nancy Jutras, East Naples

The garage doors of a former service station are still in use at Augustina's Bistro A Taste of Chicago, 3300 Davis Blvd., in East Naples.

Photo by TIM ATEN // Buy this photo

The garage doors of a former service station are still in use at Augustina's Bistro A Taste of Chicago, 3300 Davis Blvd., in East Naples.

The outside bar at Augustina's Bistro A Taste of Chicago is under a renovated former gas pump canopy.

Photo by TIM ATEN // Buy this photo

The outside bar at Augustina's Bistro A Taste of Chicago is under a renovated former gas pump canopy.

A piece of sheet music for the blues standard “Sweet Home Chicago” is painted on a wall at Augustina's Bistro A Taste of Chicago, 3300 Davis Blvd., in East Naples.

Photo by TIM ATEN // Buy this photo

A piece of sheet music for the blues standard “Sweet Home Chicago” is painted on a wall at Augustina's Bistro A Taste of Chicago, 3300 Davis Blvd., in East Naples.

A: Augustina’s Bistro A Taste of Chicago, 3300 Davis Blvd., finally opened Tuesday on that southeast corner of Airport-Pulling Road and Davis Boulevard in East Naples.

“We’re ready to get open, that’s for sure,” own­er Rick Berec said Friday.

The local project has been nearly two years in the making, transforming a busy corner that hosted a service station for nearly 30 years into a full-service restaurant and bar. Origi­nally planning to hire only 20 employees, Berec ended up hiring 34.

“It was a little bigger monster than I thought it was,” he said.

Those hired include longtime Naples restaura­teur Richard Amador, who will be executive chef for the new restaurant. Ama­dor most recently operated Amador’s Bistro Italiano in Plaza Walk on U.S. 41.

Rather than try to hide the fact that the renovated building once housed au­tomobiles and mechanics, the old garage bay doors and expansive gasoline pump canopy were incor­porated into the design of the new business.

The three bay doors still can open to bring the outside in. The bistro seats about 65 inside and 100 outside, Berec said.

The canopy over the outdoor bar features Chicago’s skyline, and an impressive tribute to the Windy City has been rendered in a detailed montage on an inside wall. A piece of sheet music for the blues standard “Sweet Home Chicago” is painted on another wall.

The real tribute to Chicago, of course, is on the menu, which features both deep-dish and thin-crust pizza, Vienna Beef hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches and kielbasa. The recipes for the bread, pizza, pasta, sausage and most other menu items are from Berec’s grandmother, Augustina, who is honored in the restaurant’s name.

The bistro is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. Hours are 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 6:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Phone: 239-777-7676.

Augustina’s A Taste of Chicago also will continue to operate out of the red wagon a couple of blocks away on the corner of Airport-Pulling and Estey Avenue, said Berec, who was born and raised in Chicago.

Photo with no caption

Jason’s Deli

Q: I would like to know if Jason’s Deli has any plans for another location in the Estero area. It’s the best. Thanks.

— P.C.

A: Estero is a good possibility for a future Jason’s Deli location.

“We are on the lookout in the Estero area,” said regional franchisee Diana Willis. “We are also looking at expansion in Sarasota.”

Willis and her husband, Scott, operate five Jason’s Deli franchises in Southwest Florida. In addition to their North Naples location off Immokalee Road in Uptown Center, the Willises own franchises in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Port Charlotte and Sarasota.

After being loyal customers of Jason’s Deli since 1978 and former franchisees of McDonald’s for years, the Willises opened their first area deli location in 2001. The Willises’ last location opened two years ago in Sarasota.

Jason’s Deli’s extensive menu of sandwiches, soups, subs, wraps, panini, pasta and muffalettas includes its popular salad bar with several organic items.

The Texas-based fast casual chain is a privately owned company that was started in 1976 by an Italian family. Today, Jason’s Deli has more than 200 locations and operates in 28 states.

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More local restaurant news

Gallo Fino Café, a Cuban sub shop, opened Monday at 318 9th St. N., the former Trinity Plaza location of Leoni’s Pizza, which closed its downtown location last summer. The exterior sign is not up yet, but Gallo Fino is ready for business, said Cuban-born Maria Elena Canete, who opened the new local restaurant with her husband, Angel Arturo Canete. The Canetes’ menu features the Gallo Fino Cuban and Cubano Americano pressed sandwiches, cream of black bean soup, and café con leche, of course. In addition to a variety of 12-inch pressed sandwiches, the cafe serves soups, salads, milkshakes and slushes. On a dare or to share, try the café’s Super Cuban, a 24-inch, 5-pound sandwich with a pound each of pork, ham and Swiss cheese, as well as 50 pickle chips, 6 ounces of mustard and lettuce and tomato. The new cafe is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. 239-330-7695

The Keys Bar & Grille opened Feb. 20, 2012, in Gulf Coast Town Center off Interstate 75 in San Carlos Park.

Photo by The Keys Bar & Grille

The Keys Bar & Grille opened Feb. 20, 2012, in Gulf Coast Town Center off Interstate 75 in San Carlos Park.

The Keys Bar & Grille opened Feb. 20 in Gulf Coast Town Center off Interstate 75 in San Carlos Park. Until closing this summer, the local entertainment venue operated for more than a year in The Pavillion shopping center in North Naples. The bar, which continues to feature dueling pianos and live entertainment, includes college night on Thursdays. The restaurant opens at 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. Friday through Sunday. 239- 433-3323

L'Orient, a local family owned Asian restaurant, opened Feb. 29 at Naples Bay Resort, 1490 Fifth Ave. S., in the former location of Olio on Naples Bay.

Photo by TIM ATEN // Buy this photo

L'Orient, a local family owned Asian restaurant, opened Feb. 29 at Naples Bay Resort, 1490 Fifth Ave. S., in the former location of Olio on Naples Bay.

L’Orient, a local family-owned Asian restaurant, opened Feb. 29 at Naples Bay Resort, 1490 Fifth Ave. S., in the former location of Olio on Naples Bay, which closed in late 2010. L’Orient is open 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily for dinner, and will open for lunch in about a week or so, said manager Chris Thretipthuangsin.

Both Thretipthuangsin’s chef brother and mother are behind the food prepared in L’Orient’s kitchen. Eddy Thretipthuangsin is a classically trained graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, and his mother, Pat, was the personal chef for the royal family in Thailand. Reservations may be made to dine at the Chef’s Table. L’Orient’s menu includes a Thai crab cake, salmon miso, Kobe Wagyu flat iron steak, and a five-spice Muscovy duck. Unique to Naples is the restaurant’s “Cocktail Lab,” where alchemists scientifically measure the elements to create “perfect” cocktails, including a specialty list based on the Chinese horoscope. 239-530-5122

Three60 Market opened March 5, 2012, in the old Tipsy Seagull waterside spot on Haldeman Creek off Bayshore Drive in East Naples.

Photo by TIM ATEN // Buy this photo

Three60 Market opened March 5, 2012, in the old Tipsy Seagull waterside spot on Haldeman Creek off Bayshore Drive in East Naples.

Three60 Market opened March 5 at 2891 Bayview Drive in the former location of the Tipsy Seagull Bar & Grill off Bayshore Drive in East Naples. Available for purchase to take home or to dine on tables inside or outside the waterside venue are meats ground on premises, fresh pastas and salads, tomato pies, homemade macaroons, gourmet cheeses, wine and more. The new shop/eatery is open 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. every day but Wednesdays. 239-774-3038

___

Have a local question? Email it with your name and city of residence to intheknow@naplesnews.com.

"In the Know" is published Mondays and Wednesdays in the Naples Daily News. Find a complete archive of "In the Know" columns at naplesnews.com/intheknow.

© 2012 Naples Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 41

Notthesame writes:

originally was only going to hire 20 but ended up hiring 34, and almost all females becuase he didnt want any men working the front, just attractive women. we will see how they look, glad its open love the beef sandwiches.

Yurko writes:

Too bad the prices are not more typical of what is charged in the Chicago area. There, for example, it's not uncommon to get 2 Vienna hot dogs (with all the trimmings), fries, and a soft drink for $6. True, it costs money to ship the Vienna hot dogs, etc., from Chicago to Naples. Nonetheless, the prices at A TASTE OF CHICAGO seem too high, in my opinion.

Max_Headroom writes:

I'm glad they're open! Now I can get GOOD for while on my way to work!!!!

And $6.00 for a combo is actually a little LOW for this town.

Throat_Yogurt writes:

A Taste of Chicago is not in East Naples NDN. Get your sh** right

Beachtowel writes:

Looking forward to some good food. Not the Wendy's, Taco hell, etc...crap you mostly get down here.

harmony951 writes:

So excited about the opening..have been waiting patiently. We will definitely be regulars there. I predict a sucessful venture.

Here4Now writes:

Sounds good - will definetly try it. Place looks great!

Coastal writes:

Piola in Mercato is out?

Too bad, that was my favorite local pizza.

beachykeen writes:

in response to Throat_Yogurt:

A Taste of Chicago is not in East Naples NDN. Get your sh** right

Of course it is: corner of Davis and Airport is very much in East Naples.

Let me guess: you live nearby and are terrified of the "taint" of the East Naples label.

aj writes:

n response to Throat_Yogurt:

A Taste of Chicago is not in East Naples NDN. Get your sh** right

Of course it is: corner of Davis and Airport is very much in East Naples.

Let me guess: you live nearby and are terrified of the "taint" of the East Naples label.

Does anyone know where East Naples Ends and South Naples Begins?. "I do"

Here4Now writes:

in response to Coastal:

Piola in Mercato is out?

Too bad, that was my favorite local pizza.

Didn't know they bit the dust, but it was inevitable. Twice tried them, and was very disappointed. From the number of empty tables in there, apparently many others had shared the same experience.

beachykeen writes:

in response to aj:

n response to Throat_Yogurt:

A Taste of Chicago is not in East Naples NDN. Get your sh** right

Of course it is: corner of Davis and Airport is very much in East Naples.

Let me guess: you live nearby and are terrified of the "taint" of the East Naples label.

Does anyone know where East Naples Ends and South Naples Begins?. "I do"

There is no "South Naples". That's just a term dreamed up by developers. Anyone who has lived here longer than 5 minutes laughs at the term.

HAP writes:

What is a taste of Chicago food taste like? Is this the hot dogs like he sells down the street. Or just more greasy pizza. And if he misses his town so much, why didn't he just move back there, instead of blaring it all over the building.

srsone writes:

does taste of chicago have a website with a menu?
the link just goes to a FB page....

MisterK writes:

Well done, Mr. Berec. I didn't understand your vision until it started to take shape. You've made the corner very appealing and your outside bar very inviting. I look forward to my first visit.

Beachtowel writes:

in response to HAP:

What is a taste of Chicago food taste like? Is this the hot dogs like he sells down the street. Or just more greasy pizza. And if he misses his town so much, why didn't he just move back there, instead of blaring it all over the building.

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

3cabs#245211 writes:

in response to Beachtowel:

Looking forward to some good food. Not the Wendy's, Taco hell, etc...crap you mostly get down here.

Hey Beachtowel, you're all 'wet', dry-up!

My family and I have lived in Naples since the early 60's. I have yet to find 'crap' on any menu we have looked at.

Your comment makes mention, 'DOWN HERE'. Which leads us to believe you are from, 'UP-THERE'! I HAVE TWO SUGGESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER:

(1) Wise up...leave and go to 'UP-THERE'. Or

(2) Get on your scooter, vehicle or bike and cruise around the City of Naples, and other areas in the county. Visit the nicer restaurants, and if you find 'CRAP' listed on the menu, please let me know. I thought we would only find 'MANURE' in cow pastures, 'NO'?

We wish you a safe and blessed day...And remember, when walking in a 'pasture', be careful not to step on ...t, because we don't want you to mess up your shoes! Good Day.

3cabs

3cabs#245211 writes:

in response to HAP:

What is a taste of Chicago food taste like? Is this the hot dogs like he sells down the street. Or just more greasy pizza. And if he misses his town so much, why didn't he just move back there, instead of blaring it all over the building.

HEY 'PINHEAD', is 'HAP' an 'acronym' for 'HAVE A PIZZA'?

You seem to know much about the food served at the Red Wagon located on the corner of Airport-Pulling Road & Estey Avenue. Apparently you eat there often.

I drive around that area 2 to 3 times daily, there's always people purchasing the doggies and greasey pizza as you call it.

Just a matter of curiosity, where's home??? We may want you to leave....!

Have a super day...'GOD' bless you my child.

3cabs.....

amuser writes:

Stopped into Three60 on Sunday, VERY VERY nice! I bought a loaf of fresh baked olive break, some cheeses and petit fours. Delish!!! Alot of work went into this delightful restaraunt/market and I plan on becoming a regular. There were a number of customers there on a Sunday morning, so others must feel the same. Love the hours, great atmosphere.

flanative writes:

in response to beachykeen:

There is no "South Naples". That's just a term dreamed up by developers. Anyone who has lived here longer than 5 minutes laughs at the term.

I always thought East Naples sounded funny. The Gulf is West, East is Ft. lauderdale. if any place qualifies as "East Naples", it should be Golden Gate Estates,! Or even GG City which is more easterly than anywhere in "east" Naples.
South Naples makes more geographic sense, now that the population center has shifted to North Naples. The old term "East Naples" doesn't make sense anymore.

jt1120 writes:

in response to Coastal:

Piola in Mercato is out?

Too bad, that was my favorite local pizza.

An amazing thing happens when you advertise: you get customers! Any business who doesn't advertise in this competitive of a market needs to go back to business 101. Piola's product wasn't that great, their location was worse, and they never advertised. Buh-bye.

Lola2 writes:

in response to Here4Now:

Didn't know they bit the dust, but it was inevitable. Twice tried them, and was very disappointed. From the number of empty tables in there, apparently many others had shared the same experience.

we ate there a few weeks ago and both our meals were awful. at that time I said I give them 30 days and they'll be out.

bananas8187 writes:

in response to pruritus_ani:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Probably tastes about the same as the used oil filters around there last year.

Plus or minus some oregano. Chicago is to food what crayons are to fine art.

Iseeyouon41 writes:

You are all invited o the the grand closing in 18 months or less high priced, unsavory food.

sunshinecop writes:

in response to GOPWhistleblower:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yummm, Portillo's.
I moved here from Chicago 10 years ago and have tried every "Chicago Style" eatery that has come and gone in Naples. Mr. Berec has consistently served the best hot dogs, beef sandwiches and Maxwell polish in all three of his locations (the former Naples South Plaza location, the Estey Avenue Hot dog wagon and now hopefully this new location). I am anxious to see how close he comes to real Chicago thin crust pizza at this new location.
Good Luck with the restaurant!

FMJohnny writes:

Wow, its like a dressed up circle K gas station but hot dogs cost more for the pretty view of the busy intersection.

volochine writes:

In Chicago, pizza is a meal. On the east coast, pizza is a convenience. I'm not saying which is better, but Chicago did create the super-thin crust with a boatload of ingredients and lots of oregano AND the deep-dish pizza with superb sauces and lots of oregano.

Finally, a true Chicago hot dog joint will use poppy seed buns. While you can't buy them at Publix, even Sonic fast food uses poppy seed buns on a horrific hot dog.

Why can't you buy a poppy seed bun? How come you can get them in Chicago? LOL!

streetrodder writes:

Richard Amador? He seems to have a track record of not lasting very long at any of the restaurants he works for. Once the owners get a taste of him he'll be gone.....

Beachtowel writes:

Chicago has the best food in the country and I'm hoping this place lives up to the billing. Good luck Taste of Chicago.

wolfgang1 writes:

in response to streetrodder:

Richard Amador? He seems to have a track record of not lasting very long at any of the restaurants he works for. Once the owners get a taste of him he'll be gone.....

I agree about Amador, he's like the "whack a mole" of the local restaurant business.

joeybaccala writes:

in response to 12guage:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

What does this have to do with anything? So what, he can't drive...

FreshFace writes:

praying their pizza actually tastes like home (north side...not the south side crap lol). Joey's on Marco (thin crust) is the only decent Chicago pizza down here. PLEASE hold true to CHicago's taste on pizza, beefs and sausages!

FreshFace writes:

Yurko, they only make our hot dog buns in Chicago as well (you know, poppy seed), so I bet that costs a lot to get shipped here as well. I'm assuming same for the beefs and polish buns. It's all unique to CHicago. I don't mind paying a bit more since I won't go there weekly. TOO FATTENING!!! But to have that option is great.

FreshFace writes:

in response to GOPWhistleblower:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You're making me cry for home, GOP. Oh, Portillos or Lous!! I hate the crumbled sausage poops people put on pizza down here. A piece of pizza IS NOT meant to be folded thrice and eaten lol. Will they have hot tamales here? OMG, I can feel the fat on my thighs already, but I can't wait to go try a taste of home soon!!!

guinear writes:

RE: A Taste of Chicago, Part I

Their full name may actually be "A Taste of Chicago During the Depression" but it is too big for the menus.

The luck of the Irish was certainly not with this new restaurant attraction today--that's for sure. Drawing a crowd is obviously no problem, (though I am pretty sure they are regretting their recent advertisements now). My party arrived around noon and the place was packed. After circling the parking lot for 15 minutes, and nearly being on a first name bases with the employees hiding in the back while trying to look busy, we were directed towards patio seating. Sure, why not? It was a nice day out. I suppose if not for the noise of traffic and plywood shoppers nearby, the 25 minutes we were given to meditate with our menu while waiting for service would have been otherwise quite therapeutic.
The menu does not look too bad—lots of choices. Choices… but not options. When our server (looking very frazzled and worn out) finally made it to us she immediately told us to take pizza off the menu due the oven being broken. That’s fine—everyone was looking forward to trying the Chicago beef anyway. Our drink order was taken, and she was apologetic for the wait, but would be right back. About 10 minutes later, fountain drinks appeared and it was time for orders to go in.
In a matter of moments, the poor service and atmosphere became minor issues. We are told, they are also out of beef and French fries. Minestrone? Nope… out. We finally decide we are going to make the best of this and rather than try to find out what else they are out of, we ask what they do have. Chicken fingers, cold cut sandwiches and of course, the hot dogs. So, we accept those options with a plate of antipasto and a couple of us also ordered their alternative soup option. Sounds good.
The sick lettuce on a plate with some red onion, dried cold cuts and canned black olives arrived without dressing in under 10 minutes. The gentleman that brought it to us was not aware of any dressing that may or may not be included and informed us that he did not actually work there and was just helping out. A few minutes later, several plastic to-go containers of a plethora of dressing arrived from a different frazzled looking server. Yum.
Over a period of 20 minutes, chicken tenders and one hot dog arrived. We also found out that the alternative soup option was no longer available since we placed our order. Our assigned server must have been on break as she was no longer handling any aspect of the serving. A member of our party stumbled inside to attempt to handle some of our beverage refills. During his trek, he found people being served the beef. It turned out, it was an option—they were just out of the bread. So, he flagged an alternative server to put in an order for a couple of those and inquire as to the status of our remaining hot dogs.

guinear writes:

RE: A Taste of Chicago, Part II

After our adventuring party member returned, our assigned server showed up a few minutes behind him and actually asked—with a smile on her face—“How is everything?”
We were unable to respond with little sampled, but we assured her that as soon as we all have our food we will let her know.
Another unimportant amount of time passes and then a new face shows up with a couple of hot dogs (dressed incorrectly). To be fair, they may not have been the hot dogs intended for our table, but he did ask all of the other tables on the way to our’s first and none of them were interested. A moment or two later, out came two Chicago beef sandwiches. Sandwiches? Well the beef was served on hot dog buns, so perhaps there is a more accurate term to be assumed. They were as sad as they sound without the peppers or sauce. However, there was some bonus mozzarella cheese melted on top! Yum.
When all was said and done (rather less than done) our server reappeared with the bill. (I wonder if they screened for psychic tendencies.) Well, again, to be fair… it may not have been our bill. It was littered with different types of hot dogs, though we were served no variety, soup we never received and beer we never drank. A member of our party took her turn braving the inside and “negotiating” our bill. We’re good… only not quite yet.
We are saying our good-byes and making way to leave when the hostess shows up with a young family of four to be seated. Our table is only half cleared and we are still seated. Talk about awkward. One member of our party is disabled, but now we are all scrambling for the walker and trying to make haste as quickly as possible while this bewildered family and clueless hostess stare at us. Pleasant way to conclude pleasant lunch.
Best of luck to you A Taste of Chicago… Would love to know if it gets better, but we will not be back. To anyone else considering opening a restaurant and soon after serving an all-day Saturday holiday/seasonal crowd: Be prepared.

Bbmaxim writes:

I would like to say I think Augustina's is doing well considering what they are facing! They have been so busy since they have opened!IT's not easy opeing a restaurant and then to open one thats been as busy as they have been. Their trying! Things will get better for them, they have a great concept and great location, its been a lot for even the most experienced to handle. GOD BLESS them and I wish them luck

NapDaliNew writes:

Hey guinear..you have way to much time on your hands. Maybe you should consider a day job at the Taste of Chicago seems like they are busy enough to need the help..moron

Bbmaxim writes:

in response to NapDaliNew:

Hey guinear..you have way to much time on your hands. Maybe you should consider a day job at the Taste of Chicago seems like they are busy enough to need the help..moron

Thats what I'm sayin! Right on NapDaliNew:)

napleslady01 writes:

Hate to say it but I had just as bad experience as Guinear at Taste of Chicago. The is no excuse for the terrible service, lack of food and it taking 40 minutes to get a salad. We went on day 2 and there were almost no servers. You shouldn't open if you don't have enough staff or enough food. You should double your staff for opening not under staff. I guarantee they list a lot if customers those first days. He waited 2 years to open and from what I saw he should have waited longer until he really had everything ready to go including staff.

yo writes:

First and last visit: I like to eat outside but there is much too much traffic noise from the ultra-busy intersection. There are probably 10 TV’s outside but you can’t watch them due to the sun glare. I’ve eaten many places outdoors in Naples, but never saw anywhere that was loaded with house flies like this outdoor bar was. Really annoying. And finally I thought the food was strangely bland. Even the chili dog had no zest. The pasta salad, forget about it, the cook needs to go to cooking 101.

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