Two Seasoned Restaurateurs Have Invaded the Cape with Their Delightful Spin on Fine Dining Pub-Style

After 12 years of working in the restaurant business together up north, Chris Ilardi—originally from New York—and Gabe Ferraro—from Philadelphia—have found themselves running the newest hot spot on Cape Coral Parkway.

“I always vacationed down here, and I knew I wanted to settle down here,” Chris says.

But Southwest Florida wasn’t necessarily in Gabe’s plans.

“I had my sights set on moving elsewhere, but Chris convinced me to check out Cape Coral,” Gabe says. “I wasn’t totally convinced about Florida at first, but he showed me this spot and I loved the location. I packed up and made the move.”

The result of their move? The Backyard Beer Garden, a gastropub-style restaurant that’s quickly gaining local buzz.

“Our restaurant concept was basically a mixture of how Gabe and I like to go out to dinner,” Chris says. “Casual, fun atmosphere, but with really good, quality food and excellent service.”

“There’s a bit of an industrial feel with the wood pallet furniture, the stainless and the copper bar,” Gabe says. “It has a different feel from most typical restaurants—we didn’t want typical here.”

The menu is also atypical.

“We definitely consider this a gastropub-style menu,” Gabe says. “Lots of finger food, lots of flavors. We’ve taken bar food and added major flair to it. It’s a lot of fun.”

While gastropubs have been popular in many places for decades, fine dining pub-style has been a bit slow to catch on in Southwest Florida.

The Backyard Beer Garden offers around 20 to 22 menu items, and Chris and Gabe plan to change things out when they come up with something new they love. But, according to Gabe, his specialty—the cheesesteak—will always be on the menu.

“Our culinary experiences come from both what we like to eat and what we grew up eating,” Chris says. “For example, the clam dish we offer might not be considered ‘bar food,’ but we like it and it’s good, so it’s on the menu.”

They have 32 craft beer offerings—16 draught and 16 bottles—and they change out the selection about every two weeks. They also offer specialty cocktails and wine.

The space itself is built to be interactive—for humans. Made out of wooden pallets, the seating and tables allow the opportunity to meet and converse with your fellow diners.

“The seating was made to allow guests to mingle, just like if they were at a backyard party,” Gabe says. “We have games they can play at their tables. We have live music on Thursdays. It’s really such a fun place to hang out, have a few drinks and have some great food.”

There is definitely a reason why people are raving about this new addition to South Cape’s dining and entertainment scene. It’s also quite obvious Chris and Gabe are passionate about their gastropub and being in Cape Coral.

“We are really excited to be part of the growth and evolution of Cape Coral. This community has already been so wonderful to us,” Chris says. “We are very, very happy to be here.”

The Backyard Beer Garden’s Signature Alcohol-Infused Watermelon

  • Whole watermelon

  • Vodka (flavored or any alcohol of your choice)

1. “Shove” the bottle of vodka into the watermelon. Allow alcohol seep in.

2. Let it sit for 24 hours at room temperature.

3. Turn the watermelon and then let it sit 24 hours in the fridge.

4. Slice and serve on traditional paper plate.

The Backyard Beer Garden’s Clams

  • Fresh clams from Little Neck Long Island

  • Spanish chorizo

  • Extra-virgin olive oil

  • White wine

  • Clam juice

  • Red pepper flakes

  • Fennel, shaved

  • Served with toasted bread from Staten Island

Paired with From My Cold Dead Hands by Bury Me Brewery, Fort Myers

The Backyard Beer Garden
1339 Cape Coral Parkway, Cape Coral, 239.540.5454,