Johnny’s Italian Restaurant on a Friday night is a very crowded place. We had to wait about 20 minutes for a table. Salads and bread started off the meal while we waited for our calamari.
The Johnny bread is one of the best things about this restaurant. The oil & garlic dipping sauce will have you warding off vampires for a week. The bread is just perfect and we ended up getting a second loaf. It’s hard to resist. Next up, calamari.
It was very tender and had a nice crunch. The dipping sauce that came with it was rather spicy with lots of red pepper flakes. I was feeling the heat for a while. Loren ordered the Tuscan Steak with Portabella Sauce.
The interesting thing was that he actually tried to order something else, but the waitress talked him out of it. I can’t remember what the other item was, but she said it didn’t have a lot of flavor and that he’d enjoy this one more. And he did. I went for the chicken marsala with a side of fettucine alfredo.
The chicken was tender and the marsala sauce had a really nice flavor to it. When they get their alfredo sauce right, it’s really good here. Tonight was one of those nights. I could have eaten an entire bowl of just that. I felt the need for chocolate tonight so we ordered the chocolate cake.
This was an incredibly rich and chocolately cake. It had thick ganache layers and just melted in your mouth. Perfect ending to a very good meal. Total bill with a drink was $45.75.
Johnny’s Italian Restaurant
2907 SR 590 #1
Salt Rock Tavern recently opened up in Oldsmar and from start to finish, this was not a pleasant experience. For some reason, they chose not to use the entrance in the front of the building, instead choosing to use an unmarked door on the side. We really weren’t sure we were in the right place when we walked in from the parking lot. It was 5:30pm when we got there and though the inside looked spacious and rather empty, we were told there was an hour wait unless we wanted to eat on the patio or at a communal table in the bar area. We went ahead & chose an outside table.
Our waiter brought over a lukewarm carafe of water and two small glasses. Since I drink water with my meals, I had to ask for a larger glass with ice. Loren ordered the crispy chicken sandwich which came with fries.
The Texas toast was quite a bit bigger than the piece of chicken and the name “salt rock” aptly applied to this sandwich. The chicken was coated in what tasted like large crunchy rocks of salt. Loren actually thought it was bacon at first, but since bacon wasn’t listed on the description and it had no bacon flavor, I have to assume it was just salt. Quite inedible in my opinion. My meatloaf sandwich wasn’t much better.
It was almost as salty as the chicken sandwich and had a strong fennel flavor to it. I’m guessing the meatloaf was made partly with sausage. There just came a point where I couldn’t ingest any more salt. The fries weren’t hot or crispy and tasted like they had been sitting in the kitchen for quite a while.
The layout of the patio was also poorly planned. While we were out there, a typical Florida thunderstorm came through drenching the one table of people that were at the edge of the seating area & sending everyone at the bar running inside. There wasn’t an overhang between the restaurant and the side of the patio we were on, so the waiter got wet every time he had to go back inside. Their satellite TV went out with the first raindrop. We won’t be back. Total bill with a drink was $18.
Salt Rock Tavern
3689 Tampa Road
Hot Tuna Sushi Bar & Grille just opened up in Oldsmar, so we headed over there for dinner tonight. We went early and were the only ones there for a while. It’s an elegant looking space, but the thumping music they had playing just didn’t do it for us. I admit, I’m not a twenty-something looking for a party atmosphere. I just wanted a nice, quiet, tasty dinner. They did deliver on the tasty part. We started off with a salad and some dumplings.
Loren liked the dressing on the salad and we both enjoyed the dumplings. They were a little crispier than I had expected, but the filling was flavorful. For our sushi order we decided to try the fresh salmon nigiri, a California roll, a Mexican roll, a Gator roll, a Rainbow roll, and a Lollipop roll.
Though I loved the way the Rainbow roll looked with it’s rainbow colored fish eggs, the crawfish salad inside of it was a bit too spicy for me. I didn’t eat the Gator roll since it was also spicy, but Loren said it was good. The other rolls were also fresh and tasty. I did find the sushi rice to be a little colder in temperature than what I’m used to. Loren didn’t notice it, but it was the first thing that hit me about my first bite. We both enjoyed the freshness of the lollipop roll. The crunch of cucumber instead of rice is just such a nice change of pace. I also couldn’t pass up a dessert called the chocolate trilogy.
It was beautiful to look at and tasted wonderful; however, it was frozen solid. It absolutely needed to be thawed out for a while before serving so that it would have had more of a mousse like texture instead of ice cream like. Besides the annoying music, I also found the use of brown butcher block paper on the tables to be less than appealing. Every drink or cool dish left a mark on the paper. It just seemed inconsistent with the vibe of the rest of the restaurant. Total bill with a drink was $66.
Hot Tuna Sushi Bar & Grille
3689 Tampa Road #302B
Harr’s Surfside Cafe recently opened in the space vacated by MecaFresh. It’s owned by Harr’s Surf & Turf next door. They don’t have a very large menu, but I couldn’t resist the lobster roll & chowder combo.
Though I did think the lobster roll was a bit on the small side, it was all fresh perfectly cooked lobster meat with just a hint of celery and mayo. This is the perfect lobster roll in my opinion. Nothing to get in the way of the lobster. The chowder also had some nice flavors going on. Loren ordered one of the specials, the spicy pastrami.
I made him get the mac & cheese as his side dish. Though it had a very cheddary flavor, it wasn’t quite creamy enough for my tastes. He said the pastrami wasn’t very spicy, but overall the sandwich was good. Total bill with a drink was $23.
Harr’s Surfside Cafe
3235 Tampa Road
Palm Harbor, FL
Quite a few restaurants are closed on Memorial Day so we ended up at the new Five Guys in Boot Ranch for lunch.
The restaurant is big and bright, plenty of windows letting in lots of light. The burgers & fries are what we’ve come to expect from Five Guys and I actually think these were a little less greasy than the ones we got recently at the Westchase location. A little cheeseburger with grilled onions & mushrooms for me and a little bacon cheeseburger for Loren. Plus you can’t leave here without some awesome fries. Total bill was $15.
Five Guys Burgers & Fries
300 East Lake Road
Palm Harbor, FL