Tag Archives: Siesta Key

Best Pizza on Siesta Key — “Bada Bing!”

5 Jun

Those of you who know me well know how much I enjoy a good pizza. I mean a really good pizza … made by professionals who know what they are doing … not some pimply-faced geek pulling minimum wage. Great pizza made with “amore” is increasingly difficult to find these days. Yet turn on the TV and The Sopranos seem to have a great pie joint on every corner. It’s just not fair, right?

Thankfully, I discovered such a joint on Florida’s Siesta Key. We lived on the Key for a couple years and learned very quickly that this was a go-to pizza hangout. Real pizza. Jersey-style pizza. Made by a couple of brothers named Solorzano. Their folks run an authentic Italian restaurant — just a couple miles away in Sarasota. The brothers operate a cozy little pizza shop just a short stroll from the white sands of Siesta Beach. Follow your schnozz, you’ll find it. Once you’re there, locals will give you a knowing wink. You’ll be on to their little secret.

You’re likely to hear classic songs like this while you sip on your chianti

They’ve got all the traditional Italian delights you’d expect at Solorzano Brothers. And they’re all magnifico. But just like Sinatra was a notch above Bennett, and DiMaggio a more prolific slugger than Rizzuto, Solorzano’s gelato, calzones, & pastas are ultimately overshadowed by the big boss — PIZZA PIE.

Another example of the soundtrack to your primo Solorzano’s meal

Have a look at the above pie. Now that’s an offer you truly can’t refuse!!!

You can load your pizza up with all the toppings you want, but I still prefer to go straight pepperoni. Why clutter up a good thing, huh? No need to “guild the lilly” at Solorzanos — let the real Italian flavor shine through. Take in all the ambiance too. The brothers will likely be talking trash behind the counter … or maybe bragging about their favorite New York sports teams … or debating their favorite episode of The Sopranos. Tony Soprano’s mug hangs proudly on the wall alongside images of Old Blue Eyes, ex-Giants QB Phil Simms, Al Pacino, or perhaps an old Dean Martin album cover. Just what you’d expect from a couple of pizanos from Hoboken. And all the stuff I wanna see at a REAL pizza joint.  

Tony says “Just get to Solorzano’s right now … capiche???”


Siesta Key Rum Gets Solid Early Reviews

19 May

As former resident of Siesta Key, seeing the little island mentioned in the media always brings a smile to my face and a sparkle to my eyes. Especially if it has anything to do with tropical libations and the key’s vibrant beach life. Can’t wait to give this rum a shot (pun intended) when we next visit SW Florida.

Here’s a recent piece that ran in the St. Petersburg Times …

SARASOTA — I’m standing at a table that appears to be half chemist’s bench and half impromptu bar. While holding a plastic thimble of clear liquid, I listen to the story of how molasses pressed from organically grown Florida sugarcane becomes that rare thing, a sippable white rum of character.

The man telling the tale is distiller Troy Roberts, lifelong rum aficionado and co-owner of Drum Circle Distilling, a distillery and producer of small-batch, hand-bottled rums. Siesta Key White Rum hit retailers’ shelves and bartenders’ arsenals — first on Siesta Key, of course — in March. The first batch of Siesta Key Golden Rum, Roberts says, needs a few more weeks in 10-gallon new American oak barrels before it is ready for market.

We sampled the young white rum from Batch 1 first. It was crystal clear and full flavored, aromatic on the nose and smooth but with just enough agreeable edge on the palate. It would be fine simply poured over ice, but it would make a mighty good mojito, too.

Next we barrel-sampled the aged rum, the golden, straight. The rambunctious youngster, weighing in at this stage of its life at an overmuscled 65 percent alcohol by volume, nearly lifted the top of my head off. Then Roberts cut a sample in half with water to approximate its polish when it has finished its time in the barrel, to yield a civilized 80 proof spirit. The golden rum, having borrowed some structural tannins and its color from the oak, is even smoother than the white and more complex. It compares favorably with my usual rum of choice, Mount Gay Barbados.

Everything about Drum Circle Distilling is small-scale and hands-on. Roberts and his father assembled the gleaming stainless steel mixing and fermentation tanks and the copper still and rectifying column. They scraped and painted the floors and walls of the industrial park warehouse-turned-distillery. They’re the ones who mop up after the messy business of loading the mixing tanks and transferring the sticky mix of molasses and water to the fermentation tanks, where Roberts’ own custom blend of two yeasts is introduced into the process prior to distilling. Likewise for moving the raw rum into aerating tanks and, for the golden, on into barrels. The bottles are filled, corked and labeled by hand and then the batch number is entered by hand on each label, which bears an evocative island illustration by Ringling College of Art & Design graduate Ron Borrensen.

The white rum retails for about $22 and the golden is expected to go for less than $25. For the growing list of merchants, bars and restaurants where you can buy the product of Roberts’ labor of love, check out drumcircledistilling.com.

John Bancroft is a freelance writer in Sarasota, specializing in food, wine and travel.

Breakfast at the Broken Egg, Baby!

4 Apr


We celebrated my son’s 14th birthday with a family breakfast at the Broken Egg on Siesta Key. There is also a Broken Egg in Lakewood Ranch, but the SK location is just a short bike ride from our pad. If the name Broken Egg rings a bell, it may be because it is Dick Vitale’s favorite morning haunt and he promotes them relentlessly on ESPN.


I tried their famous Pumpkin Bread French Toast and it was indeed tasty. I added a little whipped butter and topped it all off with some pancake syrup. Eileen had some coffee and a big bowl of fresh fruit, while the boys woofed down eggs, bacon and hash browns with jam and white toast.


The Broken Egg is a neat little place. It is certainly no secret and you may have to wait a few minutes to be seated. But don’t stress about that. Hey, you’re on beautiful Siesta Key! Relax, grab a cup of complimentary coffee, gaze at the cool local art, or simply watch the world go by along the sidewalks of Siesta Village. It is truly a wonderful place to be!


The Sun Garden on Siesta Key

30 Dec


Eileen and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary with a “Love Lunch” at the Sun Garden on Siesta Key. This was our first time dining here, although the restaurant is within walking distance of our pad right here on beautiful Siesta.  


The menu is kept fresh with daily specials.

Most everything is very healthy.


I started my meal with a bowl of Tomato Bisque topped with basil and sunflower seeds. It was very fresh tasting — and not so creamy. This makes for a less fattening experience. Imagine a warm gazpacho and you’ll get the general idea.


Eileen, after some deliberation, ordered the fried shrimp salad. She let me try a shrimp and I was impressed. It was meaty and fried to a nice, crispy texture.


My Yucatan fish taco entree was really tasty. I would strongly urge you to try this if you’re a fish taco aficionado. The grilled mahi-mahi was spiced just right and topped with chopped cilantro and pico de gallo. The accompanying guacamole was super smooth and flavorful.  Squeeze on a little fresh lime juice and you are in business! 


Make sure you sit in the patio, where The Sun Garden lives up to its name.

Christmas Time on Siesta Key

30 Nov


Christmas season is now in full swing on beautiful Siesta Key, FL. Last night marked the Key’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting celebration. Baseball great Tim McCarver flipped the switch last year, this year it was former basketball coach and present ESPN TV personality Dick Vitale (AKA “Dickie V”).


Vitale addressed the crowd and asked one & all to dig deep this holiday season for the Jimmy V Cancer Fund. Dickie V was a good friend of the late NC State hoops coach Jim Valvano and he continues to wage Valvano’s battle to find a cure for cancer. Vitale had some books he was selling and signing for $25 with all the proceeds going to the foundation. Great job, Dickie V … you are indeed AWESOME BABY!!!!


I kicked in our donation to the cause & paused for a snapshot with Dickie V.


It was then time to turn on the tree lights. It is a beautiful (and very tall) tree this year. It can be seen thru Christmas in front of Gabbiano’s Italian Restaurant in the heart of Siesta Village. Stop on by, do a little shopping, grab a bite to eat, and say hello to our good friends at the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce. Debbie, Mike and Charlie will be happy to assist you with any questions you may have. They are truly wonderful folks!


Santa also arrived on Siesta Key last night. All the kids were thrilled to see him.  


Sure, Christmas shopping is now fully underway. But there was another kind of shopping going on last night — Barber Shopping! These brightly clothed gents busted out some familiar harmonies inside the Village Barber Shop. Our kids enjoyed this very much. We believe it was the first time they had ever seen barber shoppers in action — excepting for a recent episode of “Flapjack” on Cartoon Network. I have always been partial to “My Wild Irish Rose” … and no, I’m not so partial to the cheap wine of the same name!

Merry Christmas from Siesta Key, where the sand is as white as freshly fallen snow!

Lunch at Captain Curt’s

11 Nov


When the summer heat fades away, I always have a taste for a good soup or chowder. The place to go on Siesta Key is Captain Curt’s. As you can see from the picture above, they serve a wicked bowl of New England Clam “Chowda.” Sure, it’s creamy and very tasty, yet it’s the clam to potato ratio (3/1?) that makes this bowl of goodness an award winner. Tons of meaty clams — and they are extremely tender.


For my entree I called for the Mahi Mahi sandwich served Cajun style. I squirted some fresh lemon on top, slathered the fish with a little lemon dill mayo, and the rest is history. Captain Curt’s is very much an Old Florida style family establishment. They also have a bar and nightclub in the back and a very cool Tiki Bar if you want to hang outside. This is a local hub for Ohio State Buckeye fans, so Michigan Wolverines beware.  


Before you set sail, check out Captain Curt’s gift shop. All sorts of funky swag to take back to the poor landlubbers who had to stay home. The little beanies seen above are just a small example of the booty you’ll find at Captain Curt’s. If you’re ever gonna pick up some crabs, this is definitely the way to go!

Visit soon and tell them Dixie Dining sent you.

Lifeguard Stands of Siesta Key

9 Nov





Another Siesta Key Celebrity

20 Aug

De Day of Siesta Key Fitness

I never watched this show, so I had no clue that De Day was featured on American Gladiators. Eileen and I have met her and her husband — they run the fitness club here on the key. Nice folks! As for her name, I believe it really is her real moniker. Hard to believe, I know.  The brief blurb seen below was pulled from a Tampa Bay area blog —

Maybe she was just too nice to win. Or the gods decided Florida didn’t need another reality TV superstar. Regardless of the cause, Siesta Key fitness trainer De Day came up short Monday night in her quest for a new Toyota truck and status as a victor on American Gladiators — unable to finish the final leg of the show’s grueling Eliminator obstacle course before her opponent, Tiffaney Florentine, a 25-year-old business consultant and former military police officer from Royal Oak, Michigan.