FLUFFI Love: Flavio’s in Siesta Key

When I was just a little fluff, I fell in love with whole concept of “going out to dinner.” (My love for food began at birth, but that’s another whole post.)  That’s because back in the 60’s, a restaurant visit – even to McDonald’s – was a rare treat.  (Shout out to Mom, who had a home-cooked meal on the table every night with a strict rule of no dessert without first eating your vegetables.  Does anyone else recall counting out 7 string beans and choking them down bravely to get to the chocolate pudding?)

My early restaurant memories were of Bob’s Big Boy after church on Sunday.  (Again, this was the exception to the rule.  Sundays were primarily for rigatoni and the smell of red gravy emanating through the house.)

When I saw my first menu, it was love at first sight.

Every menu is like Christmas morning and your birthday rolled into one.  You can have this!  Or THIS!  Ahhhhhh….and save room for THAT!  Before ordering, I imagine every dish and hope I make the right choice, because it is such a bummer when the person you are dining with ends up with a better meal than you (which is only salvaged when they share.  And they have to because of the way you are looking at their risotto.)

When I started dating, I was never the girl who wanted to go bowling.  Or god forbid, hiking.  (I hear some snickers from Colorado over that line.)  Sure, I’ll go to the beach – but FEED me.  I absolutely married the right guy.  We have eaten our way through France and Italy, and when we saw the mile long line outside of the Louvre, we looked at each other and said, “Nah.  Let’s get some escargot.”  (I am not necessarily proud of this but at least we WENT to the Louvre.  We just didn’t go in.)

Since moving to Florida where Duane and I both work from home, the last thing we want to do when we finally shut down the computers is stay home.  As a result, just about every night is a new restaurant adventure (yay!) and now that FLUFFI has been born, there’s a new way for me to express my love for dining out.  So let me tell you about last night…

Even the specials chalkboard at this place has fabulous flair.  It's like walking into a party of colorful, flamboyant friends who want you to be happy.  Isn't that last part what makes a good restaurant great?
Even the specials chalkboard at this place has fabulous flair. It’s like walking into a party of colorful, flamboyant friends who want you to be happy. Isn’t that last part what makes a good restaurant great?

I love when a restaurant sneaks up on you; when expectations are low and the returns are off the charts, which is what Flavio’s did the first time we visited.  Hey, it’s a little, nondescript strip mall!  Who was expecting a party?  But that’s what it felt like when we walked in, and that’s why, on this  beautiful night for a sunset, we headed to Siesta Key for a second visit.

The bar greets you like a colorful Italian Mardi Gras - and in the background, Teddy Pendergrass, Barry White and crazy obscure disco songs straight from Studio 54.  Is this heaven?
The bar greets you like a colorful Italian Mardi Gras – and playing in the background, Teddy Pendergrass, Barry White and crazy obscure disco songs straight from Studio 54.   Pinch me, I’m in heaven!

The atmosphere was just as we remembered, in two words: 

sexy and fun. 

Speaking of sexy and fun, meet the most charming bartender, Alex (Alejandro) with an accent that makes you feel like you are on a Mediterranean vacation - but here's the kicker:  We had only been there once before, and when we walked in, he said, "Hello, Duane!"  I know my husband is memorable, but I was still impressed.
Speaking of sexy and fun, meet the most charming bartender, Alex (Alejandro) with an accent that makes you feel like you are on a Mediterranean vacation – but here’s the kicker: We had only been there once before, and when we walked in, he said, “Hello, Duane!” I know my husband is memorable, but I was still impressed.

I know, I haven’t even talked about the food.  I am not a true foodie, so I can’t offer the kinds of descriptions you’d find in an actual critic’s review – but let me just say that the aroma of garlic welcomes you almost as invitingly as Alejandro.

Duane said, "Is that chocolate?" when he saw the thick balsamic drizzle on my Caprese Salad.  I was too busy eating to answer.
Duane said, “Is that chocolate?” when he saw the thick balsamic drizzle on my Caprese Salad. I was too busy eating to answer.

 

Duane, of course, opted for the pizza, crafted before our eyes (and so reminiscent of authentic Italy.)
Duane, of course, opted for the pizza, crafted before our eyes (and so reminiscent of authentic Italy.)
Tender mussels popped with juiciness, and once they were gone, I was tempted to take a bath in the remaining garlicky red sauce.
Tender mussels popped with juiciness, and once they were gone, I was tempted to take a bath in the remaining garlicky red sauce.

Should I have warned you not to read this on an empty stomach?

In closing, a complimentary limoncello for Duane made his night.  And this made mine:

As I left Flavio's, an unknown young man followed us out and shouted, "Ciao, bella!" to me.  Anyone who calls me bella is my new best friend.   I'm a sucker for a compliment.
As I left Flavio’s, an unknown young man followed us out and shouted, “Ciao, bella!” to me as I snapped this shot of the exterior. Anyone who calls me bella is my new best friend. I’m a sucker for a compliment.

*sigh*

Don’t you just love a good night out at a restaurant?

Where were you – what did you order and why did it last in your memory? 

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11 thoughts on “FLUFFI Love: Flavio’s in Siesta Key

  1. Great read Brenda. I remember eating at Bob’s Big Boys when I was little too. My sisters and I went out to eat every Sunday with my dad because my parents were divorced. We loved it and my friends were all very jealous. I remember them telling me how lucky I was. I think my favorite two places dad took us was the PUB in Cherry Hill and Zaberer’s in South Jersey. We thought they were so fancy. Now going out is a treat. Although I do love to eat in the Keys when I go to Miami to visit my Dad. Eating along the water while the sun is setting is breathtaking.

    1. Ann – I went to Zaberer’s for my 16th birthday with my first “car date” boyfriend, Billy Dunn. I even remember the dress I was wearing…and thinking that “I have arrived!” (Though they did have that arcade area that brought down the glam a bit…) Thank you for sharing!

  2. My early dinning out memories were so very similar! Most of my school years my father was a salesman, and he was away from Monday to Thursday or Friday. Every once in a while my mom would take us to Amata’s on Delsea Drive. (I think that’s the spelling of the name). My two sisters and I would order something exotic, like spaghetti with A meatball (kids menu). It was just so much fun not to eat at home. Especially because it was the middle of the week.

    I also remember going to Ponderosa. (Also on Delsea Drive). It was so tacky and so much fun as a kid of maybe 10. The little order signs that went on our orange trays. I also remember going to Stewart’s for root beer floats. But we did go to a really nice restaurant once a year. We would save our change in a huge jar and in the middle of the summer we would take it to the bank and get our special out-to-dinner money.

    The first place I remember doing this was a seafood restaurant that had a huge living room chair in the lobby where we kids would all sit together, and then we got to keep a Polaroid of the event. I cannot remember the name of it, but it was on the way to the shore. It was a “get-what-cha-wanted” night. No worries about how much something cost. It was at these outings I tried new food… shrimp Parmesan, rib eye steak, crab cakes, muscles and clams… we did this for years. And we always had a great time – and to this day one of my favorite things to do is go out to eat. I am with you Brenda… always great memories. Thanks for the article!!

    1. Robyn – what a delicious and FLUFFI response! You have a gift for writing in a way that I can SEE exactly what you are describing in my mind’s eye. Thanks for checking in – it made my day.

  3. My mouth is watering also. Now I’m already contemplating something dynamic for dinner – homemade, of course. Think I’ll do something with crab as I love seafood. All your pics look fantastic and you are right — if someone calls me by a romantic name I just melt.
    Gordon and I used to frequent the Lobster House in Cape May when it was just a rickety old two room place on the docks. That was about 50 years ago but they made the best seafood I’ve ever had anywhere – especially the crab cakes. The rab Trap in Marmora comes closest with theirs.
    Got up this AM, looked up at beautiful clouds peeking thru my sunroof and said, “This is going to be a FLUFFI day and so far, it sure is.. love it all.

    1. Ah, Aunt Joan – if I could cook like you, my love for restaurants may not be so intense! Duane is now salivating at your mention of crabs…and yes, it is a FLUFFI day!

  4. I am drooling! it’s 9am, and I haven’t had breakfast yet! I’m craving any one of those luscious meals!
    When I was very little, we’d go to this Italian restaurant frequently. The owners didn’t mind that I’d get up from the table and sing “How Much Is that Doggie in the Window” at the top of my lungs. I don’t recall that, but I remember my parents telling me that I was quite the entertainer! Since then, I have always loved going out and finding great places to dine. That restaurant you went to is right up my alley. (:

    1. What a picture! I love the fabulousness of just singing out — and will definitely take you to Flavio’s when you come and visit.

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