For years, the Commodore was a favorite restaurant of ours, but Covid was the final nail in the coffin of that high end staple of Key West dining. Part of why we enjoyed the Commodore was the food of course, but the romantic atmosphere and view made it really special. With the iconic eatery closing, another restaurant soon popped up in its place; BelMare, boasting fine coastal Italian dining.
With friends in town visiting, we wanted to take them someplace elegant and with a great view. Initially, we thought Louie’s Backyard would be a great option, but they had no reservations available, so we told them about this new place, Bel Mare. Our friends were looking forward to trying it out with us. Luckily a few reservations still remained, so we grabbed them.
Our party arrived early in the evening, so the restaurant was not very busy yet. The staff were very friendly and seated us near a window so the view of the harbor below was fabulous. Bel Mare has a pretty extensive wine list as well as some interesting cocktails from the bar. With bread brought out soon after we were seated, they were off to a good start in my husband’s estimation.
Looking over the menu there were several interesting options. From the chef’s special ceviche to a more traditional antipasti for appetizers to house made pastas, and entrees that would make any seafood lover, landlubber, or vegetarian’s mouth water.
Lately, I have been on a clam kick, so I went with the pasta and baby clams. My husband went with the steak, and our friends Mel and Midge went with the Lobster Scampi and the Shrimp Orechiette respectively. While awaiting our dinners, we enjoyed drinks and the view and of course catching up as we had not seen these girls for a few years.
Once arrived, I have to say that the meals were plated beautifully. Midge, who for many years ran a successful catering business in St. Pete, absolutely loved her meal; high praise! Actually, we all did! The pasta was all cooked to al dente perfection. The seafood was not overlooked and had just the right amount of garlic and other enhancements to add to the flavor and not take it over. And the steak was cooked to the requested temperature. So happy diners all the way around.
We did not get dessert afterwards as we were all full and Midge and Mel wanted to grab Key Lime Pie on a stick from Kermit’s before they headed out the next day.
As Midge picked up the bill, I am not sure what it came to, but as a fine dining establishment, I am sure it was a couple of C-notes at least.
Would we go here again? Well, actually, yes. We came back earlier this month to celebrate my best friend’s birthday. I wanted to try some different things on the menu this time. We started off with drinks from the bar and the antipasti plate for the table which was gorgeous and had some of the best olives I have ever eaten. Actually, everything was very high end and amazingly tasty.
For dinner I was contemplating a few different options, but eventually went with the mushroom risotto. My husband went with the chicken cacciatore. Erik ordered the scallops with pork belly. Dianne ordered the papardelli and shrimp.
The risotto was creamy and extremely flavorful. The chicken was absolutely amazing; tender, flavorful, and filling. Erik thoroughly enjoyed his scallops and declared the dish very good indeed! And Dianne enjoyed her shrimp and pasta. Everyone at the table enjoyed our picks.
Once again, and to my dismay, we did not get dessert here as the birthday girl wanted Dairy Queen! This time we picked up the tab, and with everything we got the bill came to a bit over $200. Not too bad considering everything we ordered. And, the waiter was awesome. He was very entertaining and on top of it all night, so we were never without a refilled water glass or anything else we wanted.
My one complaint that I have about Bel Mare is the once the restaurant fills up with dinner guests, it gets really, really loud. So, my suggestion is to get here early! We will definitely be eating here again in the future!
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Island Genn – Your Key West Concierge