Review: Dinner at Il Tesoro, Sanibel, FL

We’ve been vacationing on Captiva Island for about 20 years now, and we’ve been to every restaurant on the island multiple times, so lately, we’ve been venturing out to Sanibel to expand our dining repertoire.  Tonight, we tried Il Tesoro for the first–and last–time.

Caprese salad, drenched in balsamic, $15

The restaurant doesn’t look like much from the outside, but the inside is different from most other island places: instead of a bright, airy theme reminisent of the tropics, Il Tesoro is dark, with an eclectic decor.  There are Edison style bulb light fixtures and exposed pipes in the ceiling, with indoor awnings framing the windows.

The tables are fine, but the wooden chairs—oof, extremely uncomfortable. It was amazing how, even though there’s almost a foot of height difference between my husband and I, we both had the backs of our chairs digging into our spines within minutes of sitting down. And, lest you think it has to do with being “too large” for the chairs (how dare you!) my 5′ 2″, 98 pound daughter had the same issue. The restaurant itself is quite small, and with the kitchen just off the entrance, the tight room heated up quickly once other diners filed in and took their seats.

Is this really $30 worth of pasta?

Our waiter was accommodating, especially when my daughter’s caprese salad arrived with a generous drizzle of balsamic vinegar poured on top and she balked.  She prefers to control the amount herself, and another one was brought out quickly with vinegar on the side. (Several of our dishes came with balsamic vinegar drizzled on top, including my eldest daughter’s chicken dish and my pasta entree, which was a bit odd.)

Pollo Milanese, $23, a better value
than most menu items, but you better
like balsamic vinegar

Unfortunately, when the dinner entrees came out, mine was incorrect–not sure if it was the waiter’s mistake or the kitchen, but I ended up having to wait while everyone else felt really guilty about digging into their food.

I had ordered the pasta special, cheese-filled “pasta pockets” with a gorgonzola cream sauce, and it took a really long time to finally emerge from the kitchen.  Once it came, it was such a small amount of pasta–10 small dumplings only slightly larger than standard tortellini–my husband immediately asked if it was actually an appetizer portion. It wasn’t, and the cost: a whopping $30.

The food itself was absolutely delicious–I would give it a solid 4 stars out of 5–but it was definitely NOT worth the price tag.  We’ve had much better meals at Captiva House (Tween Waters Inn) and The Mad Hatter, with better service and fantastic atmosphere. 
Pappardelle Bolognese, $19
Overall, we were underwhelmed, and ended up skipping dessert.

Final verdict: we were glad we tried someplace new, but would not eat there again. 

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