An innovative chef is putting his all into what he does—and it shows.

Eyeing stacked take-out boxes and red pepper shakers on the tables, I thought I had stumbled into a pizza place with an incongruously cool live-edge wood bar. Then the pungent campfire smell hit me like a ton of bricks. For as overpowering as the air was from the old-school wood-burning oven, that was how light and delicately balanced the flavors were in every single dish I tried. I can’t understate the value of being surprised, and Taverna delivered in spades.

There is pizza (and a quaint patio if your olfactory senses are overwhelmed), but move beyond it for the real thrills. A fried ball of burrata was so good I had to stop myself from sopping up every last morsel of tomato sauce with the crisped encrusted cheese. A 21st century version of a wizard’s hat was the glass terrarium concealing a smoked tequila-glazed chargrilled octopus with a red fruit compote. Gnocchi baked until dry and crisp was something I’d never seen before—and I’m still thinking about its creamy thyme-enriched white wine sauce and how the plate was a pointillistic tableau dotted with the prettiest little edible flowers.

This is not a sexy place or one even with waiters in ties. But I can tell you an innovative chef is putting his all into what he does—and it shows.

Taverna Wood Fire Kitchen Cape Coral Restaurant - Gulfshore Life Magazine- Top 10 Best New Restaurants 2018

Photo by Vanessa Rogers.