The true essence of a destination is sometimes hidden off the beat path. Since I had one night to dine in Naples, my approach was to find somewhere unique. The Downtown Naples, Fifth Ave South, and Third St South all seemed too Tourism Bureau perfect. With their well paved streets, hardly any parking spaces, colossal crowds of jacketed and gowned distinguish people, fine mannered thrones of Italian and mainstream restaurants, I thought there must be something unique in this town. I turned to social media, scrolling through Yelp I came across IM Tapas.
This restaurant is about 10 minutes away from the distinguished congregation. I called ahead to make sure they could accommodate a dog. They have one table outside. It was all mine. The drive is along a main road that turns into a strip mall. As I pulled up in front of the restaurant, I must admit, I thought it was the wrong place. Gangsta Latin Rap bumped across the parking lot from an auto service shop and Gospel Music echoed from next door. The dark tinted front glass concealed any hint of what is inside. A couple of diners came out. I asked, “how was this place”? The lady replied, “If you like good food, you are about to have great food.”
That was comforting. I pulled the door open. Not anything like the outside. There were neatly set tables with white table cloths, napkins, silverware, and glasses. The bar boasted neatly stocked wine bottles. There were a few tables occupied, but the buzz around those tables was captivating. I notified, what seemed like the only staff, that I had called and was seated outside. It took a minute, but the server came out and set the outside table with table cloth and silverware. We were presented the menu. Out of sheer curiosity, we asked the server about certain items. The true essence of a server is their ability to genuinely explain in detail and show parallels to the items on their menu. It helps, which I found out later, that our server was at this restaurant since they first opened. After his modest but highly informative menu description and suggestions, we selected a few items. A step further, I asked for his wine pairing with what we ordered.
Zestos, Vinos De Madrid, 50% Tempranillio 50% Garnacha – A wonderful blend of Spanish varieties. Fruit forward nose of berries and cherries, with deep violet color. Medium bodied with lingering licorice finish. Soft tannins. A great complimenting wine for items ordered.
Fresh Bread with Spanish Olive Oil – I had to be careful with this, a few more rounds and I would have been full. Chopped olives in the oil is addictive.
U-10 Diver Scallops on a bed of octopus slivers showered with citrus reduction and blood orange infused olive oil – Marvelously seared scallop, cooked to perfect finish in the middle. The accompanied reduction was ever so light and added that touch of citrus to seafood that lights off the palate.
Artichoke hearts (stem in) filled w/Serrano & Manchego in a garlic fume – Rich, creamy, tender textures that melts in the mouth.
Lentil Salad Warm DuPuy lentils with morcilla (black sausage) – The crispy sausage skin was an amazing encasement to the blood innards. Lentils combination was complex and flavorful.
Flan de Cafe Coffee Flan Authentic Spanish Flan accented by espresso liqueur – Bold coffee flavors romanced the delicate silken flan texture to a fulfilling conclusion.
It may appear that these are very limited items for two at dinner But we were very happy to not order another item. Because after the flan, we were completely satisfied. The sheer complexity of these flavors with artful coercion and skillful manipulation made these dishes complete culinary ecstasy.
IM Tapas has managed to capture the dream of successful restaurateurs and chefs. This is staying true to the craft with genuine hospitality. Even though the location may be a little off the beaten path, this is one that is certainly worth the adventure. Look pass the exterior and enter IM Tapas world, good food is definitely great here. This is one of those experiences that longs for a return.