It was almost a year ago that I stuck my head in the back patio of the space formerly occupied by Divino Restaurant, only to find co-owner Harva Cristofoli up to her elbows in dust and splattered with paint. She told me she was working on a vision. . . a dream that would take over a year to come true.
So it was a beautiful experience to visit her stunning vision-turned-to-reality during the opening week of Beulah. Without hesitation, Jill’s and my first impression was one of awe, easily putting Beulah’s on the short list of “sexiest” restaurants in Sarasota.
Everywhere you look is simply a feast of jaw-dropping touches in the décor. Believe me when I say, there isn’t a bad seat in the house at Beulah! If the old axiom stating that “you eat with your eyes first” were literally true, you’d never get around to checking out the inspired menu developed by co-owner/chef Flavio Cristofoli! The feast for your eyes would fill you up!
Count us among the legions of fans of Flavio’s Brick Oven & Bar on Siesta Key, a virtual icon on Siesta. So it was no surprise that fans of Flavios embraced Beulah on the first weekend they opened. The place was hopping.
We managed to get seated in pretty much the center of the main dining room – perfect for taking in 360 degree panoramas whilst sipping on our wine. Every few moments we noticed another clever décor bit of eye-candy.
Ordering becomes easy when you just know you’ll be returning with clients and no doubt stopping in after a movie. For this visit, I chose the Roasted Beet Salad, with its caramelized beets over a bed of peppery arugula, and accompanied with orange segments, goat cheese and a horseradish ginger dressing. Hey, Poached Pear Salad – don’t feel bad, you’ve got next!
Jill has a (healthy) obsession with scallops, so she zeroed in on the Capesante Gratinate. Fresh bay scallops baked with a light gruyere parmesiano cheese sauce, and touches of vermouth, Tabasco, butter, thyme, and scallions made this a beautiful marriage of flavors, and seeing it served on a scallop shell was a perfect start to the main event(s) yet to come.
Admittedly, having perused the menu 24 hours before our visit had me dreaming of the Polipo Alla Piastra, and my taste bud “tunnel vision” was rewarded with an exquisite buttery textured, grilled and marinated octopus over the Chef’s choice polenta, which in this case was a lovely grilled parmesan and pecorino romano polenta. Since octopus is something I never have, and never will prepare at home (and why would I ever attempt to try and equal this in the hands of a master,) all I can say is “Octopus Fans Unite!” We can give you eight great reasons to savor this dish!
Veering away from making a menu choice, Jill thought the description of the Snapper Special sounded too delicious to ignore. The grilled snapper was served over black rice boiled in shrimp water and spices that made it so sublime, we had to call Chef Sam Hatfield out to congratulate him and discuss the depth of flavor in the dish, which came resplendent with a large grilled shrimp, and (surprise!) a seared sea scallop.
Once again, hooray for seafood, and big thanks to the Scallop Fairy for gracing this fabulous dish. The preparation was elegant, fresh, and wholly satisfying, with the rice being not only dramatic in its appearance, but tender and with big flavor, elevating it to almost co-star status.
With both senses and stomachs near full (near being the operative word here,) the evening took on the feel of a special occasion – if fact, Jill remarked early on that she could see Beulah as a place where marriage proposals will be made – we decided to share an apple crumble cheesecake, while I indulged myself with a snifter of Grand Marnier. That officially put a bow on what will surely be seen as a “gift” to the local restaurant scene!
Once home, The evening inspired me to Google a few things, and this turned up on dictionary.com:
Beulahful : [byoo – luh –ful]
1. having beauty; possessing qualities that give great pleasure or satisfaction to see, hear, think about, etc. delighting the senses or mind: a Beulahful room, a Beulahful meal
2. excellent of its kind: The Chef served us a Beulahful dish of food.
3. wonderful; very pleasing or satisfying.
4. Harva’s mom.
‘Bout says it all, doesn’t it?
Enjoy some more of our ‘eye-candy’ photos of Beulah!