Fusion Bistro and Grill in Cape Coral

Fusion Bistro Cape Coral

NOTE: This restaurant has changed hands and is now known as The Original Moretti's Italian Grill - review coming soon!

Can't decide what type of restaurant you'd like to visit tonight?  Solve your problem by heading over to Fusion Bistro and Grill in Cape Coral.  With a menu featuring a variety of dishes from cultures scattered across the globe, they've got a little something for everyone.

Fusion Bistro is located right across from Big John's Plaza at the corner of SW 47th Terrace and Vincennes Boulevard.  This is the building which formerly housed Taste of New York II.  The attractive and light-colored building with a cave-like entrance features a front patio with several tables available for an alfresco dining experience.

The interior has a modest sit-down bar and an open dining room characterized by an eclectic collection of prints and artwork depicting a wide array of geographic locales.  The restaurant is quiet, but my dining partners and I have arrived at an uncharacteristically early hour for dinner in the South Florida off-season.  We're offered the opportunity to choose any table in the house.  We settle in at a comfortable table with a view of the outdoor patio.

A friendly female server immediately approaches the table and offers to take our drink order.  The wine list is adequate, with an emphasis on affordability.  Most of the bottles are under thirty dollars, and a great many of the selections are available by the glass at prices between 4 and 6 dollars.  My dining partners order some Zonin Montepulciano D'Abruzzo.  I head straight for a not-often-locally-seen German-brewed Warsteiner pilsener on draft.

Fusion Restaurant Review Cape Coral

Drinks arrive almost immediately.  Owner, Remy Saluz, appears around the same time to introduce himself and welcome us to his restaurant.  Born in Switzerland, and having spent most of the last two decades here in Cape Coral, Remy has borne witness to the rapid growth of this city.  With his strong personality, Swiss accent, and colorful opinions -- Remy brings a distinct character to Fusion Bistro.

"Tell me...when you go out to eat...what type of food do you like to have?" Remy asks us as we peruse the menu.  "Oh, you like Italian?  I recommend the Fusion Carbonara, this is real Italian."  He relishes the opportunity to prove that there's something on his menu for you, whatever it is you might be craving.  "This is what my restaurant, Fusion, is about...a group of people want to go out for dinner - they all like different styles of cuisine - if they come here, then everyone's happy."

The menu really does run the gamut...and the printed descriptions are informative and persuasive.  However, I do think it's important to point out how the word "fusion" is being used here.  When most foodies hear the word "fusion", they expect the restaurant to feature individual dishes which have the elements of two distinctly distant culinary traditions blended into one new, interesting, and cohesive food reality.  Here at Fusion Bistro, the term is used loosely in an attempt to convey the eclectic and far-reaching nature of the menu.  Although Fusion Bistro features dishes from Thailand, Italy, Germany, and Switzerland -- they are all fairly authentic examples of dishes from those regions with almost no blending of these varied cuisines taking place.  At Fusion Bistro, the German is German, the French is French, and so on....for the most part, although there are some notable exceptions.

We order Fusion's Spicy Mango Shrimp as an appetizer.  For dinner, we decide to take Remy up on his recommendations.  We order three entrees representing three distinctly different types of food, and vow to share them all.  The first is the Fusion Fish Lover's Pasta.  The second is a Red Thai Curry with Shrimp.  The third is the Fusion Italian Carbonara with Chicken.

Fusion Bistro opened just under a year ago, smack-dab in the middle of the worst economic crisis Southwest Florida has ever known.  This restaurant has struggled in trying to find an audience, even as handfuls of more established restaurants have shut their doors for good.  The local restaurant scene has suffered through a drastic, Darwinian, thinning of the herd, which still continues.  Only the strong will be left standing at the end of the day.  As we wait for the first course to arrive, I'm not sure what to expect.

As soon as the first plate arrives at our table, any worries I may have been harboring subside.

The Spicy Mango Shrimp appetizer ($8) is described on the menu as eight grilled shrimp with a spicy mango salsa.  Descriptions are one thing, but the reality of this appetizer exceeded my expectations.  We're talking major flavor punch here.  This isn't middle of the road blandness -- this is an excellent example of bold Floribbean cuisine....and, thus, one of the few true "fusion" dishes on the menu.  Exquisitely cooked, firm, fresh shrimp, smothered in a lively and vibrant mango and pepper salsa with a serious fiery bite to it.  Grilled pineapple slices serve a dual role here, as a garnish and viable, flavorful way of quenching the pleasant and surprising heat of the dish.  This appetizer is a well-executed triumph.

The entrees arrived in appropriate time with dazzling colors and visible care paid to their imaginative presentations.  So many of our local restaurants just plop food haphazardly onto plain looking plates.  Not Fusion Bistro...every plate comes out of the kitchen photo-ready here.

The Fusion Fish Lover's Pasta ($15) is sautéed shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams, calamari, and whitefish with garlic and fresh basil in a tomato-based seafood sauce and served over pasta.  This can be ordered mild or hot...we went with arrabbiata-style and were happy with the pronounced heat.

Fusion's Red Thai Curry with Shrimp ($13) had the most intricate presentation of our three dishes with molded mounds of rice accented by chopped scallions guarding the four corners of the plate.  We ordered this at medium heat, just to change it up, and it arrived just as requested with a nice slow-building warmth.  The Asian vegetables and shrimp were flavored with a very authentic and complex curry sauce.  Probably the best curry dish I've ever had at a non-Asian restaurant.  Hell, this might even compete with some of the curries served at our local Thai restaurants.  I must admit, however, that I like my curry dishes a little more soupy...the rice should drown in the sauce.  But, then, it wouldn't have looked as pretty.

The unexpected best of the three entrees was the Fusion Italian Carbonara with Chicken ($14).  Shallots, garlic, bacon, and mushrooms fused into a creamy sauce with real Parmigiano cheese and a hint of truffle oil, served over pasta with grilled chicken breast and garnished with fresh herbs -- this dish just worked.  Seldom, do I expect greatness from a chicken dish while dining out...yet, out of the three entrees, this is the one I kept reaching for extra bites of.

The portion-size of all three entrees was on the heavy side...more than any of us would usually eat in a single sitting.  Dinner prices were low, so perceived value was overwhelmingly present here.

For desserts, we split a Flourless Chocolate Cake and a Chocolate Mousse.  Both are made on premises.

The Flourless Chocolate Cake was an oddity to me.  I found the presentation strange, but -- let's face it -- chocolate and vanilla always taste great together.  Anyway, nice for Fusion Bistro to offer a Gluten-Free dessert option.

The chocolate mousse had an exquisitely smooth texture and dreamy, quality-chocolate taste.

My bottom line: I'm granting Fusion Bistro and Grill a rating of Recommended.  This is a local, owner-operated eatery worthy of your visit.  The menu offers plenty of variety.  Lots of quality ingredients and fresh herbs were utilized.  Much thought has been put into the flavor components and presentation of each dish on the menu...and it shows.  I originally had a few nit-picky and superficial aesthetic objections to the interior decoration and silverware used at the restaurant...but if they keep serving this quality of food at these prices, then we'll give them a pass.  Plus I just saw on Facebook that Fusion is now offering even lower-priced early bird specials from 4 to 6.  Check out their website (http://www.fusionbistro.net) for details and give them a try.  I'm sure they've got something you'll like.

Fusion Bistro & Grill on Urbanspoon

-- writing, photography, and video by Eric Taubert

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