Recently going through a complete overhaul, the top floor of the Lani Kai was gutted, rebuilt and remodeled over the last several months, now boasting an all-new dining experience, with the Island View restaurant. This upscale dining retreat offers casual dining prices, complete with raw bar, dining area, lounge area, full bar and a wood-burning brick oven, "The only wood-burning oven on Fort Myers Beach," said Larry Puccia, general manager of the Lani Kai resort. "We're happy to announce we'll be opening the Island View's doors to the public Saturday, March 22, at 4 p.m."
Searching for the best of the best, the resort's executive chef has to be as good as its all-new dining endeavor, so Jason Smith-Agate was sought out and shipped down from Chicago, Ill., executive chef of the restaurant, as well as all other food operations within the resort.
The head chef has been cooking since he was a child, and proud to introduce the Island View with an all-new menu, featuring a fresh take on Italian-American cooking, utilizing fresh seafood from the gulf, as well as from-scratch recipes that have been passed down through Jason's family for generations.
Executive Chef Jason Smith-Agate was brought down from Chicago to offer the all-new Island View restaurant, atop the Lani Kai, a fresh take on authentic Italian meals. Enjoy large, tasty portions in an upscale dining hall at affordable prices and relaxed atmosphere. The Island View opens to the public Saturday, March 22, serving dinner. Photo by MELISSA SCHNEIDER.
"We're offering great authentic Italian dishes that are reasonably priced in nice, large portions. All of my recipes are from my family in Italy great Italian food I grew up on," Chef Jason said, whose family still owns and runs three restaurants in Chicago. "They've inspired me to take their traditions down to Southwest Florida. Many are light and health-conscious with lots of flavor. I'm excited to be here it's a dream come true. The Conidaris family treats me like one of their own, and we're very excited to open to show Fort Myers Beach something different that they haven't seen before."
Coming fresh out of the wood-burning oven, all dishes are made-to-order, and cook much faster, with 750 degrees of all-natural heat roasting their meal. Try a sampling of the many Italian dishes, like Napoletana pizza, calzones, stuffed eggplant and more.
From the raw bar, enjoy a wide range of locally caught seafood, like oysters, clams and shrimp, along with crab claws, octopus, lobster and much more, all fresh.
"It's upscale dining in a casual and relaxed setting, with all-affordable prices. We want people to come in and have a good time," Chef Jason said, who, in his life-long cooking career, served several celebrities, athletes and all-stars over the years.
The resort's glass elevator toward the front of the building will be dedicated to Island View guests, so no need to walk through the lobby or breezeway area.
While in its early stages of opening, the restaurant will open for dinner, featuring happy hour every day from 4 to 6 p.m., with wood-fired apps for $5, like pizzas, calzones, stuffed eggplant and more, specials from the raw bar, along with $5 martinis, margaritas, house wines and others. Later down the road, it plans to open for brunch, with an Easter brunch April 20. And stop in Tuesday evenings for Italian two-for-one pasta night.
Perfectly complement your meal with a signature cocktail from the restaurant's full bar. Just a few specialized drinks that are on the menu include keylime martinis, bellinis, smoking cosmopolitans, 15-ounce fishbowl cocktails, homemade sangria, a great selection of craft beers, and wine from a very small, family-owned vineyard in California.
"As we're a family owned restaurant, we wanted to offer a very special, premium wine from a family-owned vineyard, called Wente, offered by the glass," Chef Jason said.
Live entertainment will play nightly, and who can resist the gorgeous view of the gulf. The restaurant's stylish decor is warm and inviting, with a very relaxed, eclectic ambiance. Guests can enjoy dining amidst friends and family in the dining hall, or a more casual high-top table in the lounge area.
Granite countertops stretch across both the raw bar and full liquor bar, and antique-inspired chandeliers elegantly light the grill room.
"It's a beautiful setting, beautiful view with a casual dresscode, so guests can come in, enjoy a delicious upscale meal and live music while in a very relaxed and inviting setting," Chef Jason said. "It doesn't get any better than this place the view, setting, food and atmosphere."
Hours to the all-new Island View are 4 p.m. to midnight, with the dining area closing at 10 p.m. After your meal, join others in the lounge for late-night wood-burned apps and an upscale nightlife setting.
"The Conidaris family, in its 36 years of Estero Island, wanted to do something special for all of those patrons who have regularly given their support of the business. This is their way of thanking everyone," Chef Jason said. "They put a great team and family together, and we want to be the best affordable five-star dining in all of Southwest Florida. Come on up and have a great time."
Although walk-ins are welcome, reservations are highly recommended. Dress code is casual. The Island View is at 1400 Estero Blvd., atop the Lani Kai Island Resort. Call 239-463-3111 to RSVP.