If a name of downtown Monterey’s newest grill sounds familiar, it’s since Frutti de Mar recently changed there from common beginnings during a strip-mall mark in Marina. Tito and Sonia Perez sojourn a cook and manager, respectively, and broach family vibes and homestyle cooking. Happy to have a bigger place for their longtime regulars and uninformed clientele, a dual move genuine passion to patron service—and cooking—in a former Turtle Bay Taqueria. The atmospheric grill and high ceilings emanate an ethereal feel, with a complicated corner combined by black leather booths and potion wall dividers.
On a pleasing Sunday evening, it was balmy adequate to suffer one of a outside tables with a perspective of some downtown Monterey streets. The continue also called for some white wine—and a list featured copiousness of internal options—so we attempted a tawny and rather oaked Bernardus Chardonnay ($10/glass) and some less-local bubbly, Freixenet Cava ($6/glass). The booze was lovely and utterly interrelated to a plenty volume of seafood on a menu that we were fervent to puncture into.
Frutti de Mar, or “fruit of a sea,” creates good on a guarantee of sea fare, nonetheless not nonetheless an Italian-Caribbean twist. It’s an engaging alliance of comforting Italian food Tito mastered operative during places like Pasta Mia Trattoria, and some renouned bowls and tacos hold over from a Turtle Bay days. The exam was adult to see how a Perez group delivered on such variety.
Starting on a Italian side, a eggplant Parmesan came differently than we expected. The eggplant was skinny and didn’t unequivocally seem fried—not indispensably a bad thing, solely a comfort cause was lessened. The eggplant itself was a small bland, nonetheless tantalizing marinara, sharp-witted basil and a flattering display supposing a spark.
The cooking menu was extensive, and a integrate of snack options stranded out. Even nonetheless a calamari beef came in rather of a patty, it had calamari’s heading juicy season ($15.95). Steamed veggies on a side brought mangle while furious rice combined a healthy touch.
As a fool for pasta, it was tough to select between a many offerings, 14 to be accurate (ranging from $14.95-$19.95). There’s a classical duck fettuccine alfredo, some seafood linguine, comforting lasagna and a few some-more engaging pastas like fusilli pasta criminal luganega, sausage and duck in pinkish sauce, linguine alla puttanesca and cannelloni—rolled pasta with veal, spinach, mozzarella, beef salsa and basil cream sauce.
With all a options it seemed usually satisfactory to try a residence special, a Frutti de Mar fettuccine ($18.95) with shrimp, scallops and crab sauteed in garlic cream sauce.
It positively valid tawny and garlicky, nonetheless somehow light, that authorised a unlikely flavors to gleam through, utterly a buttery crab and shrimp. My carb longing was over and my tastebuds were satisfied.
Frutti de Mar is a kind of place we can go to any time, so we found myself there again one weekday lunch mangle for some living to keep me going. Hot apple cider seemed like a pointless nonetheless juicy idea, and it was agreeably honeyed with spices ($2.50).
More regard came in a form of sopa de lima duck dish from a Turtle Bay playbook—namely, “Caribbean character with orange and corn tortillas” ($5.95/cup; $7.95/bowl). Although a tainted gas was friendly and we appreciated a hardness of tortilla strips and liking of cilantro, a duck seemed and tasted a small too mechanically processed for me.
Thankfully a rest of a dish seemed fresh. Lunch equipment such as rice bowls, wraps and tacos do good here, and we was tempted to try one of each. The grilled tilapia play ($12.95) brought a large filet of fish seasoned by a light massage of achiote salsa with worldly and piquant vibes. Though a beans were a bit boring, a rice had a good pristine taste, and tons of season came from a Caribbean salad of cabbage in a softly sharp immature salsa with cilantro, onion and thinly sliced immature peppers.
The seafood combo hang ($14.95) was another winner. Tender stone crab beef sounded irresistible, nonetheless played credentials records behind a scallops and shrimp, that came in a buttery lobster cream salsa surfaced with pico de gallo, cabbage and cilantro. The hang was so large that it compulsory a blade and fork, nonetheless no complaints on that.
I couldn’t conflict a taco, and charbroiled beef called ($4.25). Everything tastes improved on a housemade corn tortilla, and hazed beef with juicy salsa is no exception. Bean pulp and cabbage assimilated a party, and a brew was utterly nice.
All in all, “nice” is a good word for Frutti de Mar. we wish a best for a overworked integrate behind a scenes, nonetheless some some-more season a la a juicy lobster cream salsa and colourful salsas could take it from “nice” to “excellent.” It has well-earned fans and followers—enough to aver a enlargement and top-notch relocation—and my heart and ambience buds demeanour brazen to examination (and eating) as Monterey’s latest unfolds.