Restaurant Review: Rosie’s Cafe & Grill

By Melanie Pagan

“Where can you go to get a good sandwich around here?” I imagine many first-timers on Sanibel wonder this. People who drive over the causeway onto Periwinkle Way are greeted by dozens of fancy dinner restaurants perfect for nights out, but it’s less common to find eateries that serve quick, quality food at a reasonable price all day long.

But it’s not impossible. In fact, if a Sanibel visitor were to ask me the aforementioned question, I would point them in the direction of Rosie’s Café & Grill – located in Palm Ridge Plaza, conveniently on the way to Bowman’s Beach (and even more conveniently, across the street from the TOTI offices.)


Here you’ll find all the classic lunch staples: soups, salads, sandwiches, etc., with most meals ranging between $8-13. But it’s the gourmet flavors infused into each bite of these selections that really make otherwise common menu items memorable.

Chicken Cobb salad with blue cheese dressing, and Buffalo chicken sandwich. Notice the homemade potato chips. If only I could photograph their crispy texture…

I have to be honest – I rarely get through an entire chicken sandwich at other restaurants before I toss a bite to the side for being too fatty or tough, but each time I delve into one at Rosie’s (I always order it spicy with their signature seasonings), I consume the entire thing before even realizing it. Each bite of chicken is always tender, hot but not too hot, with fresh tomatoes, lettuce and Kaiser roll to boot. And did I mention the sandwich comes with shoestring fries?

I was feeling gutsy on this particular visit to Rosie’s, and decided to try the Buffalo chicken sandwich instead of my usual order. Just as delicious as the spicy grilled version!

I seldom venture to other parts of the menu because the chicken is consistently that good, but everyone I dine with at Rosie’s orders a different signature item they absolutely swear by (I’ve once heard someone describe the tropical bouillabaisse as “heavenly.”)

A delicate rose can be found at all seating arrangements at Rosie’s.

If you’d like a different recommendation when dining in, you might get the chance to ask co-owners Irving Gavin or Joanne Fitzgerald yourself. The tight-knit staff often doubles in duties like hosting, serving, or scooping up frozen treats from their Royal Scoop Homemade Ice Cream bar, so the two can sometimes be spotted in the front-of-house. Don’t fret if they’re not, though, because each server seemingly knows menu items like the back of their hand.

A sample of blueberry cobbler ice cream from Royal Scoop Homemade Ice Cream, served exclusively at Rosie’s. Not pictured: actual chunks of pie crust inside.

So next time you’re headed back from the beach with the windows down, and your stomach starts to growl, stop and “smell the Rosie’s” at Palm Ridge Plaza … the aroma of their fresh food can be enough to lure you in.

Melanie Pagan is the assignment editor and social media coordinator for TOTI Media, Inc. See what other restaurants we love on our Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest pages.

Rosie’s Café & Grill
2330 Palm Ridge Rd., Sanibel
Open 8 am – 9 pm
Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner
Visit Rosie’s on Facebook

Love the one you’re with

By Melanie Pagan

The loveliest holiday of the year is right around the corner! Though it’s important to shower your lover with affection year-round, Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to take levels of admiration up a notch.

With gorgeous sunsets and dreamy hotel suites, Sanibel Island boasts a romantic atmosphere that is ideal for sweethearts. Delectable eats and exclusive jewels offered on the island also allow for one-of-a-kind keepsakes and experiences. Here are some ways you can spoil your darling on Sanibel in celebration of the big day:


Lily & Co. Jewelers

Cedar Chest Fine Jewelry

Sealife by Congress

Thistle Lodge

Traditions on the Beach

Sundial Beach Resort & Spa

Trader’s Cafe
Trader’s VIP members will recieve a bottle of  house wine, Dante, at 1/2 off with the purchase of two lunch or dinner entrees (not applicable during Happy Hour).  This special will be offered throughout the month of February.

Spa Time
Kay Casperson Lifestyle Spa & Boutique

Off island
Mark Loren Designs

Gulf Coast Coin & Jewelry
gc coin

Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center

Do you know of other Valentine’s Day specials offered in the area? Let us know below!

‘Tis the Season for Pleasin’

by Melanie Pagan

The holiday season is a wonderful time for Floridians. We are able to enjoy the outdoors without breaking a sweat, hospitality services thrive with a tremendous influx of vacationers, and out-of-state loved ones tend to travel here rather than persuade us to head north toward uninviting temperatures.

With that said, this past weekend I hosted a dinner party for my dear friends who escaped from an increasingly cold Colorado climate. We each prepared a special dish, and on that day of we filled up with sweet potato casserole, pot roast, and green beans, all while trading stories of our lives in cities apart. In the days before the gathering, I was not as concerned about the food (I keep that old pot roast family recipe on file for such occasions) as I was about the drinks. After all, everyone knows a dinner party is not complete without a delicious way to wash down an equally delightful dish.

Looking to create something with a seasonal taste like eggnog, but still light enough to compliment a meal, I searched through the November/December issue of Times of the Islands. When I opened up to the Cheers! section, a big bottle of Van Gogh Vodka immediately stared back at me. I was eager to give the liquor a try once I learned that the brand uses natural ingredients for flavoring, and has seemingly endless varieties from Dutch chocolate to PB&J.

The Double Dutch Espresso with Van Gogh Double Espresso Vodka ($29, Total Wine) featured in the magazine sounded simple and delicious—exactly the kind of drink I had in mind. The recipe called for milk or vanilla creamer and ground cinnamon, but I opted for vanilla almond milk and a touch of pumpkin spice creamer instead. I shook the ingredients with some ice, strained them into a martini glass, sprinkled cinnamon on top and voilà! Seasonally infused goodness with just the right amount of kick. I was very satisfied and, it turned out, my guests were too. By the end of dinner, my friends were begging to know where I had gotten the idea for the drink.

“Oh, you know, it’s just something I made,” I responded. I guess I’m not always as good at sharing tips as Times of the Islands can be. I will tell them eventually, but only after I use other ideas from the Cheers section first. After all, the drinks may serve as added incentive for my friends to visit, aside from the gorgeous weather we get during these cozy and inviting months.

Is there a holiday beverage, dish or gift idea we have inspired you to seek out for the holidays? Or is there a go-to recipe you keep just for celebratory occasions? Let us know if you’ve learned more about your favorite cocktail, wine, or spirit by reading our magazines! And if there is one we’ve just got to try, well, you don’t have to tell us twice. Cheers!

To find out more about a beverage to entertain or relax  with next, turn to the Cheers section in our November/December issues of Times of the Islands, Gulf & Main, RSW Living & Bonita & Estero on sale now.

Melanie Pagan is the editorial assistant for TOTI Media, Inc.

In Good Health

by Melanie Pagan

At a recent Carrabba’s luncheon, I listened to Andrew H. Singh, MD, MPH (guest author of Healthy Me. Healthy Lee. in our September/October issue of Gulf & Main) give a lecture on workplace wellness.

Similar to what he wrote in the article, Dr. Singh spoke about the Healthy Lee Workplace Wellness Incentive—a lifestyle plan created by the Horizon Council designed to inspire people in our community to make healthier choices.

Turns out, just a few simple lifestyle changes can take you a long way down the road to healthier living. Here are some key points Dr. Singh went over, showing us how to incorporate these choices every day:

Exercise More: Or, as I like to call it, the hardest activity to dedicate yourself to. But, commitment-phobes can relax. One does not need a gym membership to be active, although it helps.

Thirty minutes of exercise in the form of a brisk walk or three 10-minute exercises a day fits in to even the busiest of schedules, said Dr. Singh.

Eat healthier: Even after I opted for tilapia with my pasta instead of chicken, Dr. Singh offered a healthier alternative to our carb-filled dine in.

“As you can see, hardly anyone has touched the pasta at our table,” he said, pointing to a group of health workers with no more than a few bites taken from their plates. They had filled up on side orders of broccoli instead.

According to doctor’s orders, plates should be filled with 50 percent fruits and vegetables, equaling out to about five-to-nine servings a day. Even at restaurants, he proved this is still able to be done.

Don’t Smoke: The smoke-free environment Dr. Singh has implemented at his office promotes the healthy living lifestyle to all his employees. On average, he said, smokers miss about three-to-four more days of work per year directly from smoke-related illnesses.

Get plenty of rest: According to Dr. Singh, seven hours of sleep is the minimum a mind needs to stay sharp throughout the day.

Enjoy life: Isn’t this what we all want to do, anyway? Keeping your mind and body active, Dr. Singh said, is the key to getting there.

I watched as the doctor and wellness advocate kept us engaged through his honest enthusiasm, and it made me realize just how much he has truly benefited from this lifestyle. While most of us were drowning in that sluggish, two o’clock feeling after indulging in empty calories, I wondered how much better I would have felt had I opted for a plate of broccoli instead, too.

To those who have already adopted a more active lifestyle, how does this fit into your everyday schedule? And to those who are striving to be more health-conscious for 2014, how do you intend to do so? We always want to feel our best, so let’s help each other get there and start sharing some secrets to wellness!

For more information on the Healthy Lee Workplace Wellness Incentive and to learn how to implement this into your own workplace, pick up our September/October issue of Gulf & Main on stands now.

Melanie Pagan is the editorial assistant for TOTI Media, Inc.