Walking into La Corte Garden Bistro is like entering a lovely, funky chic paradise that begs to be explored. Multi roomed, loaded with character, it’s filled with warmth and understated elegance.
Three couples collaborated to acquire the former Brew Babies, transforming it into Cape Coral’s newest fine dining restaurant. Co-owners, Angela and Vincenzo Palmese, Tania and Alex Vitali, Sabrina Fontanili and Michael Bodetti are not only close friends, they refer to themselves and to their customers, as family. These couples bring separate and extensive experience to the enterprise; restaurant, business and interior design. Bodetti calls the group, “a synchronized package.”
In September, when Executive Chef and holder of a level one certification of the Court of Master Sommeliers, Tim Spain, received news they would be opening within the week, “He was like a kid with a lollipop,” laughed Bodetti. It meant Spain could start ordering final ingredients for the restaurant’s “authentic European and American menu with emphasis placed on Italian dishes.”
A native Floridian, Spain is proud of his heritage. During this interview, he reached for his cell phone from which he produced a photo of his great-grandmother. He retrieved another image taken in 1928 showing his fourth great-grandfather riding a bull across rural Hardee County. “He was a genuine Florida cowboy.”
Recognized by the Department of Agriculture for his “farm to table” values, Spain strives to order only fresh, locally grown food produced within a 100-mile radius of Cape Coral. He even has a personal herb garden flourishing in the restaurant’s courtyard. Seminole Pride Ranch provides Brangus beef, a combination of Angus and Braham cattle developed to combine the best of both breeds. Produce comes mostly from Immokalee.
Spain brought forth yet another photo from his cell phone, a picture of a grinning Spain and former President, George W. Bush. “I asked what I could cook for him,” the chef reminisced. “He said he wanted a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on toasted rye.” On closer examination, the photo reveals a glob of jelly gracing the front of President Bush’s shirt.
“We love food, people and entertaining!” exclaimed co-owner Fontanili, an architect and interior designer who has created a captivating, eclectic environment. She’s given every room its own personality with colors, furnishings and a unique collection of treasures. Some rooms are cozy and private. Others accommodate large groups, including weddings for which the establishment can seat 100-125 guests, or more…depending on space required for a dance floor and the band. La Corte serves lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday and offers brunch on Sunday.
Stunning structural and esthetic changes to the property, an enhanced menu, extraordinary personal touches and a fun attentive staff contribute to the upscale, but informal and inviting quality of La Corte. State of the art electronics have been implemented to expedite service and to ensure that everyone at a table receives their meal at the same time.
Outside, in the garden courtyard, live music, fireplace and fountain provide an ambient setting for dining under the stars. Just inside, a casual, full bar evokes a sense of New Orleans.
Said Bodetti on behalf of the owners, “We want La Corte to feel like a destination, not just a place to go.”