BY DOROTHEA HUNTER SÖNNE
There’s a difference between food that’s presented prettily and food that just tastes so good you can’t stop forking it into your mouth. You hope for both, but if given a choice, it’s the latter any day.
My husband and I found that at Osteria Celli, a casual-chic cafe in a Fort Myers strip mall, what the dishes may lack in the initial “wow” factor, they way more than make up in taste.
The Gorgonzola-smothered plump gnocchi with a chiffonade of speck (cured Italian meat) was so amazing my heart sank when I took the last bite. My husband, who grew up in Argentina, where nearly half the population can trace roots to Italy, said the Bolognese was the best he’s ever had. I’d have to agree.
Freshly made pastas are the hallmark of chef-owner Marco Coricelli’s menu. He’s visibly proud of where and how he sources his food and puts a premium on using hormone-free meats and organic produce. He flexes his creativity with nightly specials—everything from swordfish carpaccio to lamb ragu with parpadelle. Also unique are his “wine specials.” If you don’t see them on the chalkboard in the open kitchen, ask and he’ll gladly pour you a Perdera Monica di Sardegna (a dry wine from a type of grape grown in Sardinia) or perhaps a blend of Sangiovese, Primitivo and Syrah. And that’s just it—his hands-on approach is what truly distinguishes this restaurant.