By Jeff Stolowitz
40 Years of Dining History, I kept wondering why I had never been here.
The Daytona Shores, notorious for the Police Pulling everyone over for any reason. Maybe that was the answer but in reality it was my bias regarding Pizza in Florida. That was about to change. Porto Fino is a throwback to another era. Where Joe Pesci might meet Ray Liota or Deniro to discuss who sleeps with the fishes.
With era appropo music playing "Staying Alive" by the Bee Gees.
This place has stayed alive in an era where foams moleculer gastronomy, and hand crafted everything this place slays you with great straight forward standard favorites.
This is good food. I could tell as the aroma wafted from the kitchen into the dining room.
Our appetizers were simple the Fresh Fried Zuccini sprinkled with Parm Cheese and a House Salad with a house made Italian Vinagrette perfection in every bite.
The main courses were even better. House Speciall Marsala and Stuffed Shells.
As I sat starry eyed after tasting the Marsala,
I remembered being taught how to make this dish and the velvety taste of the wine that deglazed the pan and reduced with the mushrooms, magic!!! No not magic mushrooms but I was in a euphoric state.
To finish the meal Cappucino, Espresso and the last sips of our Ruffino Chianti Classico.
This my first visit it certainly will not be my last.
To another 40 years I say, "Vine Vide Vici"
3124 South Atlantic Ave
Daytona Beach, Florida 32118
By Jeff Stolowitz
Photos By Jeff Stolowitz
On any other night Wednesdays around here is Bike Night with hundreds of Riders going back and forth to end up at Main Street Station or Bam Bam's but this week we were once again lucky to be invited to the Wine Dinner Series at The Shores Resort and Spa.
Something a little magical occurred this night as the dinner featured a duet called Memory Lane playing.
in that duet is a guitarist who plays with the Band Miss Intent one of the most popular bands now in our area.
With St Francis wines as the headliner having Memory Lane was the touch that caused the dinner to be the most interactive dinner since we started attending them, about 30 attendees were treated to a fabulous 4 course extravaganza.
With the first course arriving the wine began swirling, a 2015 Chardonnay, Buttery and balanced, the wine had the perfect nose of peach and burnt oak. It paired with Chef Patrick Ransom's Sassafras infused White Lafourche Shrimp Gumbo. A shining example of what working with fresh ingredients can mean.
Next up was the ORA KING a farm raised fatty Salmon from New Zealand bred to be just that fatty and flavorful this paired with my favorite wine of the evening the 2015 Pinot Noir a shining example of a 100% Pinot Noir with clarity and visuals that leave you shaking your head. I asked for another glass. lest not forget the Golden Beets that added an earthy undertone that made this dish an experience.
We chatted a bit with food blogger for the West Volusia Beacon
Ryan Rougeux and I both agreed this was a special meal and then the third course arrived.
Ox Tail Osso Bucco, yes it was and not since my days eating a Blue Ribbon Restaurant in NYC delving in Bone Marrow with Oxtail Marmalade have I melted into a dish so eagerly.
For me this was the highlight of everything great they have done this year. Of course it was paired with a Cabernet Blend 2014 it needs that tannin to cut through the delicious cartilage, marrow meet and fat that made me want more.
The evening finished with a dessert few would endeavor to attempt a 10 layer Crepe Cake, Chocolate & Raspberry yummy goodness and the tenacious Chef Ransom pulls another Rabbit out of the hat and completes the meal with a 2015 Old Vine Zin reminiscent of what you'd expect roots, earth, bittersweet chocolate the perfect touch to a perfect meal.
The Shore Resort & Spa
2637 S Atlantic Ave (32.41 mi)
Daytona Beach Shores, Florida 32118
Millie's Restaurant and Catering
A fantastic small family eatery. One of the best dining spots to open in years. The freshest fish and locally sourced produce are a key ingredient to this eatery headed by Chef Jeremy Wimmer
Creative and affordable. Floridian Cuisine no doubt.
We recommend Shoestring fries and Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Bonus they deliver.
A fantastic addition to the Daytona Shores scene.
WINNER: BEST NEW RESTAURANT
Off the Hook at Inlet Harbor
This place is quintessential Florida. Situated at Ponce Inlet, the entire restaurant was rebuilt by Restauranteur Michael Schaler after it was destroyed by the last two Hurricanes. A brand new look and feel combined with the fish from the area that literally jump off the boat into your plate. Live music and a friendly upbeat staff make this the Shangri La of Dining in our area
WINNER: COMEBACK OF THE YEAR
Azure in the Shores Resort and Spa (Daytona Shores)
The chef became the F&B Manager but that has not affected anything regarding the delicious food. Most certainly the view has not changed. A mainstay in the hospitality industry in our area. The creativity is still a focus as is the way they incorporate exotic produce to pair with aged steaks or Piranha Ribs.
Pricey but worth it.
WINNER: BEST HOTEL RESTAURANT DINING & BEACHFRONT VIEW
Ice Plant (St. Augustine)
About as unique place as you will ever find anywhere in the world. The Ice Plant was exactly that at the turn of the century. The building now converted serves up a blend of contemporary cuisine mixed with a craft cocktail hipster bar, Shaped Ice Cubes, Smoke and Steel
WINNER: MOST UNIQUE EATERY
Main Street Station (Daytona Beach)
By an overwhelming margin Main Street Station is the place to visit. Concerts, Fashion Shows, Fundraisers, Comedy, Culture, History and so much more. The owner Phaedra Lee has created and preserved Daytona's cultural iconic building owned by NASCAR's Bill France
As she likes to say #lifesbetterinthegarage
No loss for diversity either as they host Latin Night, Blues Night, Bike Night and Comedy Night on a monthly basis. Paired with bigger shows Main Street Station is the place locals call home.
WINNER: BEST PLACE OVERALL
The Seabreeze Entertainment District (Daytona Beach)
Richard Kitt is an eclectic entrepreneur to say the least. He has created a strip of bars and eateries he collectively named the Seabreeze Entertainment Center. It is locally known for its 420 munchies and best burgers. They host an incredible array and blend of local talent along with some very unique underground national acts. We call this the incubator and it is great to catch some of the young talented teens that play on the outside stage fondly called The Patio.
WINNER: BEST LATE NIGHT 420 MUNCHIES
Cocina 214 (Daytona Beach)
Opened in 2018 the is the first brand new restaurant opened on the beach in decades.
Mexican food, fresh margaritas and fajitas. The view is like no other in Daytona Beach as you dine outside facing the immense Atlantic Ocean. There is nowhere else in Daytona they have fresh Homemade Tortillas and the Ceviche is always fantastic
WINNER: BEST MEXICAN, SECOND PLACE FOR OCEANFRONT DINING
Sunsetters Riverfront Bar and Grill (Daytona Beach)
The view is spectacular when the sunsets, its the perfect spot during Biketoberfest and Bike Week to view the Motorcycles as they cross over the Mainstreet Bridge. Live music on the deck, sunset shots, and a tasty menu are just part of this slice of Florida in Daytona Beach.
Fried Softshell Crab Sandwich, Loaded Chicken Tenders, Oysters and a Free Sunset Shot Every night and the traditional blowing of the Conch greets patrons as they watch the sky go by.
WINNER: BEST SUNSET DINING
Burgey's Tiki Hut (Daytona Beach)
Now in their second year Burgey's is a great find on the Beachside, Mainstreet in Daytona Beach.
There Crinkle Cut fries are second to none and the Burgess family has embedded itself in the heart of our community featuring local musicians and incredible fish tacos and the incredible Walking Taco
WINNER: MOST FRIENDLY BEST SERVICE
The Bounty at Flagler Tavern (New Smyrna Beach)
Our best kept secret. Upscale perfection on Flagler Ave in New Smyrna Beach.
Craft Cocktails with a unique viewing perspective of one of the oldest cities in America , New Smyrna. The attention to detail is incredible. A must for the foodie in you.
WINNER: BEST SPEAK EASY
By Jeff Stolowitz
Chef Patrick Ransom outdid himself last week at Azure’s California wine dinner featuring Twomey and Silver Oak Cellars.
With a big step up to the Culinary plate, Ransom hit it out of the park.
He put out an outstanding menu and the creative execution was flawless.
4 courses 5 different wines.
Twomey Sauvignon Blanc 2016 a deceptive wine that is reminiscent of a Sancerre.
Twomey Russian River Pinot Noir 2015 a wine which the delicate grapes are hand sorted.
Twomey Merlot, Miles said “If anyone's drinking Merlot I'm leaving” he obviously never had this vintage from 2013
Silver Oak Cellars Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, outstanding, deep garnet color, tannic not but it's there and a smooth transition to finish leaves you languishing for another glass.
Silver Oak Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 the cult wine continues it's run and remains one of my favorite wines to put in my glass. Stunning vintage that just is everything you want. From the nose to the finish this wine is a collectors dream.
The wine dinners are well attended and Jeffrey Flood our presenter knows his stuff and the results from working with Chef Ransom getting the pairings right was evident as the first course arrives.
Michael Bartscher the Food and Beverage Director is always present and makes his way around the room and always oversees the final presentation. They have a method and it works.
Sitting next to another frequent guest of the dinners Gregory Dean made for great company and conversation until the Collosal Shrimp and Risotto arrived. We all went silent. Absolutely delicious as I ate everything, all that was left was the tail fin.
The second course was presented an Herb Crusted Lamb Chop it was highlighted by carmelized plums. As I heartily ate this what remained were the naked bones of the chops.
Our third course was a Buffalo Beef Wellington with a traditional Duxelle which the chef used some of the Silver Oak both in the Duxelle and Demi in the creation of this dish Chef Ransom shows his technical skills understanding the nature of Buffalo and adds in his rendered fat to just make the dish delectable.
The 4th and final course was EVERYTHING it was perfect. Like Nadia Comăneci a perfect 10
Soa Tomé Cake, spun Chocolate, Currants, the edges properly charred to that bitter Chocolate crunch that just went peacefully over your tongue while a Chantilly and Hoisin sauce plays trumpets with your taste buds.
Azure Restaurant is located in the Daytona Shores Resort and Spa. The restaurant's monthly wine dinner finishes off it's 2017 season in December, word has it that it will feature Champagne. Please visit Azure's Facebook Page to find the event when it's posted at https://www.facebook.com/AzureatTheShores/
Hope to see you there Behind Daytona