For many years, we traveled often down Rio Villa turning onto Deltona to reach Alligator Creek. At that time Law's Seafood was in the old gritty, shack along the creek and pelicans loomed there waiting for the remains of fish that the market filleted after boats arrived with their catch. Nearby an undistinguished looking restaurant hugged the Creek at its curve with a beaten up wooden dock. While the place was pretty much a dump, it served up descent seafood and drinks, and the views by the window tables were often breathtaking despite the fifties-era curtains that hampered them.
The owners of the new Callaloo have fixed much of what was wrong with the old Riveria Oyster Bar -- cleaning, painting, putting in a concrete dock, and getting rid of the old curtains opening up the magnificent view where boats go by so close you get the feel of being on a riverboat watching the wildlife and ebbs and flow of the river traffic go by. As Ophelia Rosen and husband Bob told us when we visited recently "there's much more to do -- more color, paintings, decor" but they've made a great start. The place is now very clean and the views especially near sunset when the creek glistens and flocks of pelicans and other waterbirds fly by are enough to come for... and of course, now there is the food.
Ophelia hails from Trinidad and what she brings to the restaurant is from her roots - the flavors of cumin, turmeric, saffron, masala, herbs and garlic. She's also hired a top notch chef who adds his own flare..inspired dishes prepared with relentless care with a Caribbean twist.
The night we visited we sampled the tasty callaloo soup - a silky, thick stew delicately mixed with crab modified from the original - using spinach instead of the root plant not available here - delicious. We quickly ingested some of the intriguing appetizers including the bacon wrapped plantains above in a tangy sweet sauce. Fish is a specialty and there are many choices with a slate of accompanying dishes including macaroni pie, black beans, callaloo (Jamacan style) and more traditional stuff as well. The mango shrimp in a tantalizing sauce is especially good, as are the crunchy coconut shrimp and crab cakes. Friends and neighbors have also given thumbs up to the paella, oysters, and jerk. TripAdvisor reviews have been excellent.
Callaloo's wait staff bustle through the restaurant, but while being efficient, they are also friendly and informative explaining the dishes and making recommendations. Ophelia, ever affable, floats about the restaurant talking to guests, checking on the kitchen and bar. This is defintely a Punta Gorda place to visit again and again.
5500 Deltona Dr, Punta Gorda (turn off Tamiami Trail onto Rio Villa, then left onto Deltona to end)