Aqua in Naples, FL - custom made vegan + gluten-free - Restaurant Raves & Reviews - Can I Eat Here
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Aqua in Naples, FL - custom made vegan + gluten-free

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While on a recent family vacay to Florida to visit my mother in law, hubby and I used the opportunity for free babysitting and headed to Naples for the night.

I scoped out a ton of places to eat in old Naples, after a quick search brought up over 30 places to eat within a half mile we decided to just walk around and find  a place.

In the 100 degree Florida heat, we walked up Naples ‘famous’ 5th Ave. checking out the dozens of open air patios to choose from. We were hot, hungry and sweaty. Hubby was seeking seafood so we decided the next seafood place we found was the winner. 

While checking out the menu at Aqua, a seafood restaurant, the host asked us what we were looking for. Hubby told him about his sea creature craving and I asked about a vegan, gluten-free menu. He laughed and told me I didn’t need a special menu, and to just ask the chef for whatever I wanted. How fun!

Aqua is dressed up in aquamarine walls, local art and a light and airy, simple, Mediterranean feel. We ordered a bottle of cabernet while I looked at the menu trying to craft something tasty in my head.

I've always wanted to do this, and I figured now was my chance. I asked our waiter Jorge; “I’d like a gluten-free and vegan dinner, I’m REALLY hungry, not picky, and would love the chef to surprise me with a creation.”  

I started with a slightly sour, slightly sweet salad with candied pecans and tomatoes, hold the goat cheese please! 

 My meal arrived! It was HUGE and colorful! I was admiring the colors and the creation and hesitated to dig in. The photo doesn't do the meal justice. To help give you an idea of the culinary creation, here’s the list of the delicious components: grilled sliced zucchini, blistered fresh thin asparagus, grilled tomatoes, roasted red pepper ribbons, garlic broccolini, sautéed garlicky spinach carefully tucked inside a mini-tower of red onion rings, marinated shitake mushrooms served atop the sautéed spinach, and black truffle garnish.

There was so much awesome going on, I didn't know where to start so I picked my way around to make sure I tasted everything. I gave extra love to the black truffles. If you’ve never had the pleasure of truffles, you have to try them! I cook mostly oil-free, but every now and again I add a little truffle oil to take a dish to new levels of yummy. 

For dessert, I keep vegan dark chocolate in my purse. Happy it didn't melt, I enjoyed it with the last of the red wine. After dinner we enjoyed some live music, listening to tunes from Sinatra and Otis Redding, I felt like I was in another time. 

I thanked our friendly waiter Jorge, and shared my rave reviews with the chef, Sandro Durante, telling him it was the best vegan and gluten-free meal I’ve had in a restaurant- he was flattered.  

If you’re in Naples, eat at Aqua, you’ll love it.  Ask the chef to surprise you with an allergen-free creation. 

To learn more about columnist Jacqueline Fisch, click HERE.