Fusion: A diverse new dining option on the island

■ BY SUE ERWIN    

Boca Grande diners now have a new restaurant to add to their list of dinner choices.

Fusion, a new unique establishment located at 5800 Gasparilla Road at the north end of the island, will feature Indian, Thai and Mexican food.

Food and beverage manager Margarita Santiago said a soft opening was held last weekend, and the event went very well.

“We served about 50 people, and there were a few small glitches, but everything went very well in the kitchen, and our guests seemed to really enjoy the food,” she said.

Santiago was associated with the former Patrick’s Thai Bistro restaurant on the island. She said some of themployees at the new restaurant also worked there, so high-quality food is a top priority.

“We’ll be preparing the same kinds of sushi that we used to serve at Patrick’s,” Santiago said.

Sanjay Patel, operating manager and one of the owners of Fusion, said his associates purchased the property in December. His team eagerly worked to prepare the restaurant to open, aiming for a February date. A few cosmetic changes were made to the décor,and more are planned for when season winds down.

Patel formerly owned an Indian catering company in St. Louis, Mo. for many years. He has been in the restaurant business most of his life and said he likes the concept of Fusion, because it incorporates different types of herbs and spices in a variety of ethnic foods.

“Growing up as a vegetarian, there were limited options to choose from at most restaurants, so I started to experiment with different kinds of foods. I wanted to be able to provide more choices for people, yet still maintain a great variety of flavor,” Patel said.

Fusion is the only ethnic-style restaurant on the island. Patel and his associates chose Boca Grande after doing research in the area and realizing it was a good opportunity to fill a void on an island that primarily offered American regional cuisine.

The menu features a wide array of choices, with appetizers like Indian- style wings marinated in ginger garlic and served with chutney sauce. Paneer pakoda, which is an Indian cheese dipped in batter, and skewered grilled marinated tandoor chicken are a couple of other options. A variety of house soups and salads are also available. There is something to please every palate.

Some of the dinner entrees include Panang curry, Thai stir fry, Vindaloo, butter chicken and burritos and fajitas. Most items include vegetarian, chicken, beef or seafood options.

There are three full liquor bars on the property, including one at the outdoor tiki bar in the front of the restaurant. Santiago said she has already booked the Boca Bande to play on several upcoming weekends. The band performed at the soft opening last weekend as well.

Patel said he was pleased with the soft opening, because guests expressed a sincere interest in meeting with him personally.

“Everybody was so welcoming – I was so appreciative. This is such a wonderful community to live and work in,” he said.

The restaurant is currently open seven days a week, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. It will be open five days after season ends.

With a goal of opening this weekend, 5800 Island Café (located under Fusion on the same property) will serve brunch on Sundays starting at 7 a.m. It will feature a full breakfast and lunch menu from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily.

Fusion restaurant is located in the Boca Grande Resort property on the second floor. An outdoor tiki bar exists downstairs that will be opening up in the evenings soon.

Reservations are accepted.

For more information, call 941-855-9733.