August 15, 2015 ~ News-Press ~ Tereza Marks
If you are looking for a great selection of craft beer, particularly Florida craft beer, look no further than Matzaluna on Sanibel Island. After a day of enjoying the beach or the wildlife refuge, what can be better than grabbing a cold craft beer along with great Italian food in a family-friendly atmosphere?
According to Mark Blust, vice president of Marketing and Operations for the Prawnbroker group, which owns four local restaurants including Matzaluna, the logo for the restaurant was changed to make sure that everyone knows they serve craft beer. The idea to bring craft beer to the restaurant started with a group of beer enthusiasts who worked for the restaurant and a change in the local craft beer scene with the opening of Fort Myers Brewery.
Matzaluna’s bar is a bit tight on space as the restaurant has been around for more than 20 years and hadn’t previously served draft beer, so it is limited to only eight taps. Being an Italian restaurant, Peroni beer is kept on tap at all times. However, the other seven taps are constantly rotating through a series of unique, local craft beers. Blust likes to keep the beers local, within a 100-mile radius, and finds that these beers are popular with locals and visitors alike.
Former tap handles are used as decoration throughout the restaurant, providing inspiration for new beer additions. To see what craft beers are on tap, Blust suggests visiting the website which connects to the Facebook page.
The menu is mostly traditional Italian, but the pizzas are unique to Sanibel as they are cooked in a wood-fired oven. The style of the food is similar to other restaurants in the group such as University Grill and The Timbers. The restaurant offers good values for the island.
Sal’s Guava Salmon is one of Blust’s favorites. A good-sized salmon filet is served over cooked spinach and drizzled with a sweet pink guava sauce. The sauce by itself has an interesting flavor reminiscent of a fruit smoothie — a bit sour but sweet with strong guava flavors. On the fish, the sweetness of the sauce is most prevalent. The fish is coated in an herbal rub that has flavors of rosemary, cilantro and watercress. A side of garlic mashed potatoes completes this entrée.
This dish was paired with Fat Point’s Going Mintal, a Belgian-style beer brewed with mint. The beer has a light herbal nose. The taste is primarily the traditional herbal flavor of a Belgian beer but finishes with a hint of mint and lemon. The beer goes particularly well with the herbal coating on the fish, especially the rosemary. The sweetness of the guava sauce is balanced a bit by the lemon flavors in the beer.
The Chicken Marsala is a house specialty. Served with steamed vegetables and garlic mashed potatoes, this dish satisfies that need for meat and potatoes. The mushroom flavors are prevalent in this dish and the sauce also has heavy beef flavors.
Since this is a bit heavier dish, it needs a heavier beer for a pairing. Happy Hermit Pale Ale from St. Petersburg’s Green Bench is a classic style pale ale with a good but light hop nose and light hop flavors. This beer ends with strong bitter flavors from the hops, which pair well with the sauce, yet finish with more citrus, which goes well with lighter flavors from the chicken and mushrooms.
Happy hour is from 4:30 to 6:30 daily and features $1 off of draft beer. From mid August through September, Matzaluna will feature a special of 99-cent pizza slices during happy hour in addition to the regular happy hour menu.
Matzaluna is located at 1200 Periwinkle Way on Sanibel Island.
Original Article Published in the News-Press on August 15 2015
Written by Tereza Marks, Special to Coastal Life