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Image: Lori Sax

When you picture your perfect meal in paradise, it often looks something like this: You’re perched lazily in a beach chair on a rustic deck overlooking sparkling blue-green waters, sipping a refreshing tropical drink (preferably spiked with rum) and savoring fresh seafood served by friendly waiters catering to your every whim as a balmy breeze filters through the palm trees. Perhaps island music is playing somewhere in the background, and you and your friends and family are absolutely, perfectly relaxed and content, knowing that dessert—Key lime pie, anyone?—awaits momentarily.

Sound familiar? Of course, here in the Venice area, we don’t have to daydream about those idyllic moments. We can live them, thanks to our plethora of waterfront restaurants, most of them with a casual, laid-back atmosphere that’s welcoming to newcomers and repeat visitors alike. You may have a favorite one yourself, or you may find a new one to check out when you read Abby Weingarten’s feature in this issue describing some of the best waterfront dining at 17 local eateries.

If you can tear yourself away from the restaurant scene long enough, there’s lots more to this issue, including editor-at-large Kim Hackett’s timely piece on what’s happening right now with the health care scene in south county. For years, Venice Regional Bayfront Health has been the local hospital, recipient of national recognition for its cardiac care and other specialties, and residents were fiercely proud of it. Then, last summer, the hospital received lots of negative publicity—along with the threat of losing its Medicare funding—after a sewage spill that wasn’t properly addressed. New management has worked to solve those problems, but the incident shook the faith of some in their hometown hospital and opened the door to the possibility of Sarasota Memorial Hospital building a new Venice facility.  Kim explains how we got here from there; you’re bound to hear lots more on this still-unfolding story.

In the meantime, we hope you enjoy your summer, whether you’re spending it here at home or elsewhere. We’ll be back with a new issue in the fall, ready to start another busy season; in the meantime, please stay in touch with us on Facebook or here at venicemagazineonline.com