Matzaluna sets pizzas and Italian dishes on fire
Matzaluna is sort of a Sanibel landmark.
Less than a mile west of the causeway on Periwinkle Way, the tall white building with winding ramps, bright red trim and waving American and Italian flags can’t help but catch the attention of passers-by .
The Prawnbroker Restaurant Group, which operates a number of restaurants across the state including The Prawnbroker and University Grill in southern Fort Myers, added Matzaluna to its collection in 1994. And the friendly, laid-back Italian restaurant has grown into a pillar of the island.
âMatzaluna is down to earth. You can dress or peddle on your bike in shorts. It’s fun, family-friendly and upbeat, âsaid Mark Blust, group director of marketing and operations. âI love the energy here. Everyone does it.”
At Matzaluna, diners can find pizza, beer and seafood, like Chef Ron Aguilar’s scallops, a signature dish.
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However, pizza is Matzaluna’s claim to fame. Aside from the host, this is the only wood-fired oven on the island that greets guests as they walk through this front door.
âPeople love to sit there and watch the dough toss and then return to the oven,â said Blust.
The pizza is available in a personal size of just 10 inches, and Blust said the dough comes from Brooklyn, though all of the restaurant’s sauces are homemade. Guests can keep the whole six piece pie for themselves or mix and match with friends.
While pepperoni is the most popular topping, Blust said he prefers the restaurant’s eponymous pie made with crumbled sausage, peppers, mushrooms, onions and sundried tomatoes. As a lover of comforting Italian cuisine but also a strong advocate of plant-based meals, Blust has been instrumental in adding vegan options to Matzaluna’s offerings, including pizzas.
âWhen we put vegan pizza on the menu, people were so thankful,â he said. âThey were like, ‘Wow, thank you very much. We never get a chance to eat pizza. ‘”
Matzaluna also offers a gluten-free menu with adaptations of classics like Chicken Marsala. Instead of dredging the chop in the flour, it is grilled and then topped with a tasty sauce.
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Even low-carb diners can find what they are looking for at this Italian restaurant where finely cut zucchini ribbons can replace traditional noodles.
However, for those craving cheesy, carbohydrate-packed comfort food, Matzaluna serves a wide selection of favorites such as lasagna bolognese, eggplant parmesan, fettuccine Alfredo, and cheese-stuffed ravioli.
Among the many things the Prawnbroker Restaurant Group is known for is its ability to source excellent seafood. You will find a wide selection on Matzaluna’s menu, including grouper, salmon and sole. stuffed. The carbonara of Saint-Jacques is a specialty of Chef Aguilar. He sautÃ© the seashells with onion and bacon and serves them in a parmesan cream sauce.
Pizza and beer are American staples. All the draft beers in Matzaluna, with the exception of the Italian Peroni, are local crafts. Homemade red sangria is also receiving rave reviews for its fruity side.
Matzaluna’s tables, above and below, are covered with white butcher’s paper, a bundle of pencils as part of the decor. Guests young and old are encouraged to doodle: create a masterpiece and it can be displayed on the wall.
Blust’s managerial role has him bouncing around every restaurant in Southwest Florida, but Matzaluna has a special place in his heart. Before the Prawnbroker group bought the restaurant, it housed Will’s Landing, which Blust also managed.
Over the years he has seen generations of families walk through the doors and by all observations these families are happy to see Blust’s beaming smile upon their return.
Gina Birch writes about food and wine for The News-Press and on thebirchbeat.blogspot.com. Follow her like @ginabierch on Twitter and find her on Facebook.
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Matzaluna Italian cuisine
Address: 1200 Voie Pervenche, Sanibel
Hours: 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. daily (subject to change)
Contact: 239-472-1998 or matzaluna.net