Old Americana meets “Bermy” island vibes as whiffs of 15-hour smoked brisket tendril toward the al fresco tables while crackles of hot frying fish spit in the kitchen. George Armstrong, general manager of the Ringling’s former restaurant The Treviso for the last eight years, opened the wooden double doors to The Rosemary last November with a sweeping menu that traces a sort of culinary map of his far-flung homesteads. An Air Force brat born in Bermuda, Armstrong moved every two years growing up, collecting local recipes like seashells. Hawaii, Philadelphia, Charleston, Virginia—the list of temporary residences goes on. But Armstrong credits Bermuda, Austin, Texas and North Carolina as having the most influence on his palate, with a lingering note of Hawaii splashed in for good measure. The menu rides the wave from North Carolina-style barbecue to Austin-inspired Tex-Mex to pan-seared and oil-fried island-style fishes. “It’s a really diverse menu without doing it on purpose,” says Armstrong. “We don’t try to cover A to Z—it just kind of fell into place.”

His Bermudan roots show off with a smattering of cool-cool fish dishes, from the tomato-based Bermuda fish chowder with black rum and a sherry pepper sauce, to the Bermuda Fish Cake Benedict, where flaky white fish and potato replace the English muffin, topped with a poached or fried egg and coated in a Key lime Hollandaise sauce. “Breakfast in Bermuda is a very big thing,” Armstrong explains.

On the flipside, Armstrong fulfills his customer’s longings for straight-out-the-South, fall-off-the-bone barbecue with not one, but two meat smokers. The first is a 4,000-pound wood-burning monster he and his son hauled to Florida from Ft. Worth, almost killing his Jeep in the process. The other is an 800-pound gravity-fed smoker that eats up five pounds of charcoal lit from the top and bottom, staying between 200 and 450 degrees on its own for 15 hours. The end result: 8 to 10 pounds a day of tender brisket sliced and paired with Texas smoked sausage or pulled for juicy Austin food truck-style tacos.

The meat gets slathered in house-made sauce, or as Armstrong’s wife has dubbed it: George’s Interesting Sauce. “What sets the sauce apart is that we de-seed and roast poblano and jalapeno peppers,” says Armstrong. “There’s a little bit of heat but it finishes fast.” And for the real Carolinian in you, Armstrong makes his own bleu cheese coleslaw, because “it’s not North Carolina BBQ without slaw on top.” As the Bermys would say: Chingas!  

The Rosemary, 411 North Orange Ave., Sarasota, 941-955-7600.