Always on the lookout for places we haven’t visited yet, we ended up at Pensare Italian Bistro in Dunedin for dinner tonight. The place was packed and really loud. We were seated in this little alcove and I felt like the sound just reverberated off the walls. Our waiter came over and explained the specials and brought bread and oil to the table.
The bread was warm and crusty and the dipping oil was very flavorful. We were optimistic about the rest of the meal only to be quickly disappointed when our appetizer arrived.
It was a fried platter of calamari, shrimp and zucchini. The calamari was thin and like rubber. The breading had no flavor whatsoever. The shrimp were overcooked and the zucchini was burnt. If our waiter had actually come back to the table in a reasonable amount of time, I would have sent it back. Salads came with our meal and we both got the mixed greens.
Loren likes mixed green salads, I’m not a fan. They also brought oil & vinegar to the table & you can have the waiter dress the salad or you can do it yourself. Eventually, our entrees came out. At this point, I felt like we had been there for quite a while. Loren ordered the Salmone Asparagi which was salmon in a lemon buerre-blanc sauce and asparagus.
He said it was pretty good. I found the sauce to be a bit too tart and sour for my tastes. I went for the pappardelle bolognese.
This was not a good dish. The pasta was undercooked and the sauce was flavorless. It was just very uninspiring. Our waiter disappeared at this point, I think he had tables out on the patio, so we didn’t see much more of him. My expectations were so low at this point that I didn’t even bother with dessert. We won’t be back. Total bill was $59 with a drink.
Pensare Italian Bistro
799 Highland Ave
Loren took me out to my favorite little Italian restaurant tonight for our anniversary. I don’t know why we don’t go to La Trattoria more often, I really do love the food. If you’ve never been, it’s quite the experience. There’s no menu and the owner is this jovial Italian man who just makes you feel like you’ve walked into his home for dinner. He’ll be wandering around the restaurant singing and it’s just a hoot. There’s nothing fancy about this place, but the food is excellent. We started off with some bread, little pizza pieces, and salad.
The little pizza pieces are almost identical in flavor to what my Italian grandmother used to make. The dipping oil for the bread has huge chunks of garlic in it and the salad is just lightly dressed with oil & vinegar. First off, you get shown the appetizers of the day. Tonight there were artichokes, stuffed mushrooms, and stuffed eggplant. Loren went for a mushroom and I tried the eggplant.
Both were tasty. I liked the tomato sauce on mine. Once you’re done with the appetizers, the owner wheels out the cart o’ seafood and meats and tells you all the different ways he can prepare it for you. I have a favorite dish here, the pasta with crab in a pink amaretto sauce. I just can’t make myself order anything else. You can get chicken, pork, veal, steaks, fish, pasta, ravioli and who knows what else in a variety of preparations. Loren ordered the grouper in a piccata sauce with artichokes and sundried tomatoes.
He said it was very tasty. My pasta with crab was just divine.
There are huge chunks of crab in this dish. Loren says the sauce tastes like dessert because it’s so sweet. I just love it. And even though we were both stuffed, I couldn’t resist some ricotta cheesecake.
If you’ve never had ricotta cheesecake, it’s more cakelike in texture and not as creamy as a NY cheesecake. It’s somewhat dense with a little lemon flavor to it. Overall, it was an excellent meal. Total bill with a drink was $60.
2152 Main St
We were over in Dunedin today & stopped for lunch at Delco’s. They still don’t take credit cards, but it doesn’t seem to have slowed their business down at all. There was a line at the counter the entire time we were there. This was the first time we’ve been back since they moved into their new space. We actually ordered the same thing this time as we did the last, a cheesesteak for me and a roast beef sub for Loren.
Loren still prefers the sandwiches at Jersey Mike’s, but I think the cheese steaks here are yummy. We both ended up taking half of our sandwiches home. I still find the way they handle the counter to be a bit odd. You place your order at the register, but you’re not supposed to pay until you leave. It just makes for a bottleneck up front that could be handled so much easier if you just paid when you ordered. Being able to pay with a credit card would also be pretty handy. Total bill was $17 with a couple of drinks.
Delco’s Original Steaks and Hoagies
1737 Main St
This is the third time we’ve eaten at Bascetti’s in Dunedin and after tonight, I’m not sure that we’ll be returning anytime soon. The restaurant does some things very well, but is severely lacking in others. My biggest complaint tonight was the service. For the most part, it was just non-existent. We ordered an appetizer and I assumed the waitress would bring out bread while we waited for it. No such luck. We just sat there for quite a long time waiting on the sausage and crab cake appetizer to arrive.
All the photos are pretty bad because it was so dark at our table. This dish was pretty tasty. Lots of crab and just a hint of sausage flavor. I probably wouldn’t have guessed that there was sausage in it because it was very mild. The sauce with it was sort of a tangy salad dressing. Once we had completely finished the appetizer, we sat and waited some more until our waitress brought out the bread.
The dipping sauce is usually the best part of the bread here, however, tonight, it was ice cold. It must have come straight out of the fridge and was not at all what I was expecting when I took my first bite. It was very disappointing and I would have asked the waitress to heat it up if we had seen her again before we had finished eating the bread. Once we were done with it, she brought out my chicken soup and Loren’s salad.
They really need to get smaller bowls or put more soup in them. The presentation of the soup just immediately made you think they were being skimpy with it. It had a nice flavor, but I found the chicken pieces to be overcooked and sort of dry/grainy tasting. Loren didn’t mind it as much as I did. Usually, I complain that restaurants are too quick to bring out the next course, but that was definitely not an issue here tonight. Service was painfully slow. At one point, our waitress said she was going to refill drinks and she didn’t return for at least 15 minutes. Eventually our entrees came out. Loren ordered the chicken piccata.
He really enjoyed this dish. The sauce was light and tasty, the pasta cooked well and the chicken was tender. He was all mmm, mmm, mmm, while I was less than enthused by my Vodka Princess pasta dish.
This had overcooked rubbery shrimp and minuscule pieces of crab meat in it. I had to really search to actually find any pieces of crab. The sauce just wasn’t anything special and in my mind, the dish wasn’t worth $18. It wasn’t smooth and creamy enough for me. When the waitress came by and asked how it was, I was less than complimentary about the dish and she went back and told the kitchen. They offered a free dessert so we tried the chocolate fig torte.
This was really tasty. I probably wouldn’t have guessed that there was fig in it, though every so often you did get some seeds. It was chocolatety without being overwhelmingly rich. For me, this was the best part of the meal. I just felt like we spent way too much time sitting around waiting tonight. Like I said, they do some things very well, but consistency and attention to the small details just seems lacking. There’s just no reason we should have been in there for over 2 hours. Total bill with a drink was $49.
1568 Main Street
We didn’t realize there was an art festival going on in Dunedin today, so we had to drive around to find parking before we could get to Café Alfresco. Luckily, they still had some tables available for dinner. Loren decided to try the Cajun seafood pasta tonight.
The dish had mussels, scallops and shrimp in a tangy, spicy sauce. He said it was tasty. I tasted it and it was a bit too spicy for me. I went for the chicken marsala.
Though the marsala sauce had good flavor, the chicken itself was very under seasoned. I rarely add salt to my food, but this had to have some. The pasta was good with the sauce, but the veggies were a bit on the crunchy side. We both ended up with some leftovers. Total bill with a drink was $34.
344 Main St
We went down to Dunedin to take an end of year sunset photo and ended up at Casa Tina for dinner. We got there fairly early and they were too busy. Loren munched on the chips & salsa while we waited for our nachos to arrive.
The Monterrey nachos definitely were appealing to look at when they arrived at the table. All of the chips around the edges were burnt to a crisp. As far as I’m concerned, it never should have left the kitchen. We ate around the burnt parts and when our waiter finally stopped by the table to ask if we wanted to take the rest home, I showed him how burnt it was and he took it off the check for us.
For his entree, Loren got the chicken fajitas.
The fajitas were tender, but the veggies, especially the onions, weren’t cooked enough. For $18, it also seemed like a rather small portion. I got the chicken flutes.
They were less than great this time. They just weren’t crispy enough. The guac was really spicy this time too. Overall, the prices just seem to be getting higher here, but the food quality isn’t. Total bill with a drink was $36.
Oh, and here’s that final sunset of 2012. Good eatings to all for 2013!
365 Main Street
Another quiet dinner tonight, this time at Bascetti’s in Dunedin. The restaurant was pretty empty when we got there around 5:45pm. We liked the calamari the last time we were here, so had to get it again.
The calamari was very tender and flavorful, though some of the pieces were stuck together and didn’t get quite as crispy on the outside as I would have liked. It’s a really tasty dish though, especially with the dipping sauce. Next up were the salads and bread.
The last time we were here, neither of us were too keen on the housemade salad dressing. It was better this time, but I’d still prefer a nice ranch dressing. The bread was warm and delicious. The dipping sauce is addictive. Loren decided to try the catch of the day which was mahi.
He said it was good, though he didn’t like all of the veggies that came with it. I ordered the bolognese pappardelle.
This dish was quite unexpected. Any other places where I’ve ordered the bolognese, it’s been a tomato based sauce. This was a very thin, white sauce. It almost reminded me of a stroganoff. The meat tasted like sausage and the pasta was homemade and cooked perfectly. I just have mixed feelings about the dish. It was ok, but I don’t think I’d order it again. It just lacked depth of flavor. Total bill with a drink was $49.
1568 Main Street
The last time we ate at Benedict’s in Dunedin was in 2010. Where has the time gone? Unfortunately, our experience today didn’t live up to what I remembered about the food here.
Loren got souvlaki and I went for some breakfast.
He said it was seasoned ok, but didn’t taste like it had been marinated and wasn’t very tender at all. I ordered scrambled eggs with cheese, home fries, and pancakes.
It’s funny what you remember about a restaurant. The last time we were here, I was so impressed with the way they made my eggs with cheese. The eggs were cooked with the cheese, so they were ooey, gooey and yummy. This time, not so much. The cheese was sprinkled on top after the eggs were cooked, so the whole thing was just dry and rubbery. The home fries were ok, but the pancakes were on the thin side, so not quite light and fluffy. Total bill with a drink was $18.
2676 Bayshore Blvd
It’s funny what sticks with you about a restaurant. The only thing I remembered about it was that they did a really great job
We went over to Dunedin tonight for dinner at Tom Yum Thai & Sushi. They were pretty busy both in the restaurant and with take out orders. There were at least three waitresses all sharing all the duties throughout the restaurant which made it somewhat chaotic and disorganized. Multiple people trying to take orders and bring out food and it just didn’t work all that well. Loren ordered a coke from one of the waitresses and didn’t see it until after the sushi came out and we asked for it again.
We started off with some steamed dumplings.
This is the first time we’d seen open dumplings like this. They were tasty though. They had a nice blend of pork and spices. We ordered three sushi rolls and Loren got an order of ginger chicken.
We wanted the sushi and the chicken to come out at the same time, but this was one of those areas where having multiple waitresses led to miscommunication. We had to ask for the ginger chicken when someone came by to check on us after the sushi had come out. I got the Dragon roll and the Lucky roll and Loren got a crunchy spicy tuna. They were all ok. The spicy mayo was really spicy and overwhelmed the rolls. Overall, not the best experience we’ve had here. Total bill with a drink was $54.
Tom Yum Thai & Sushi
104 Patricia Ave
Our original lunch plan was to go to Tom Yum Thai in Dunedin, but we discovered they aren’t open for lunch on Sundays. Next stop was Casa Tina, but they were only serving brunch, so we ended up at Cafe Alfresco and had a very yummy lunch. Next time, we’ll just have to remember to start here. We started off with some egg rolls.
Mmmm… this is how egg rolls should be. They were fresh and crunchy and had wonderful flavors inside. Plus the dipping sauce was tasty too. We decided to split a buttermilk ranch chicken sandwich and a bowl of gumbo.
Great flavors all around. The chicken was cooked perfectly and the fries had a nice crunch. The gumbo wasn’t spicy, but it had a deep, rich smokey flavor to it. We both left there with happy taste buds. Total bill with a drink was $25.
344 Main St
We ate lunch at Cricketers in Dunedin today. Loren wanted a bacon cheeseburger and I went for the banger sandwich with some onion rings.
He really enjoyed the burger, though it was huge. I ended up eating half of my my banger sandwich. It was big too. I really enjoyed the flavor of the sausage and the onions, but there was way more cheese on it than I needed. The onion rings were crispy and yummy. And even though we were both pretty full, I wanted to try the bread pudding.
I’m so used to the bread pudding at the Cajun Cafe, that I was surprised when this came out since it looked completely different. It was really tasty though. Lots of cinnamon and a nice creamy sort of texture. I’d order it again. What’s funny is Loren said he’d only eat a bite of it since he was full, but he ate just as much as I did. Total bill with a drink was $28.
2634 Bayshore, Blvd
The last time we drove into Dunedin, I noticed a new Italian restaurant had opened up at the end of one of the strip malls on Main St. It’s called Bascetti’s and is owned by the same folks that own Spoto’s down the street. From the exterior, you’d never guess that there was such a nice little gem inside. The décor was classy and they definitely didn’t have any issues dealing with the Florida August heat. It was downright cold inside. They started us off with some bread that came with a tomato pesto for dipping.
The bread was warm and soft and tasty on its own. The dipping sauce was interesting. I’m not really sure how to describe it. As soon as it hits your tongue, there’s this burst of flavor. I think it was Balsamic vinegar, but I’m not positive. Whatever it was, it didn’t let up no matter how much you ate. It was a very fresh flavor that packed a punch. We tried the fried calamari which also came with a spicy sundried tomato and roasted red pepper dipping sauce.
This was perfectly cooked calamari. Crispy on the outside and very tender inside; even the tentacle pieces were tender. It also had some fried artichoke pieces which were good, but somewhat unnecessary. There was a lot of calamari in the basket. Between that and the bread, I was pretty well full by this point. The dipping sauce with the calamari wasn’t spicy as indicated on the menu, but it did have some unique flavors to it. Loren’s only complaint was that there wasn’t enough of it. Next up were the salads that came with our meals.
Neither of us was fond of the mango dressing. It just wasn’t a flavor we liked. For his entrée, Loren got the cannelloni.
It was flavorful, full of meat and cheese. You can get it with red or white sauce. There were two in the dish and he ended up only eating one and bringing the other home. I went for the chicken marsala which came with mushroom risotto.
This was a really tasty dish. The chicken was incredibly tender and the marsala sauce was thick and flavorful without being overwhelming. Plenty of mushrooms and tomatoes in the sauce and the risotto was perfectly cooked. I would absolutely order this dish again. I ended up taking half of it home as well. We also tried a piece of their cannoli cake.
This was the only disappointment of the meal. Loren liked it more than I did. The texture was too dense and the flavors were just too mellow. It tasted slightly cinnamon-like, but lacked creaminess. I should have tried the chocolate dessert instead, but this was the one the waitress had recommended to another table as her favorite, so I thought I’d give it a try. As for the service, it was just ok. Our waitress seemed to disappear for a while and our drinks were getting low. Overall though, it’s a restaurant we’d go back to. Total bill with a drink was $53.
1568 Main Street
We decided to try Bambino Pizzeria in Dunedin for dinner tonight. Being July, the first thing we noticed was that the air conditioners were not able to properly cool the space down which made for a somewhat uncomfortable dining experience. We started off with some eggplant sticks.
Loren was hesitant at first, but they were really good. Crunchy on the outside with perfectly cooked pieces of eggplant inside. They came with a side of marinara sauce that was pretty tasty. Loren liked the bread more than I did. It had lots of cheese and herbs on top, but it was a little too crunchy for me.
I decided to try the lasagna which also came with a side salad.
There was a high proportion of meat to cheese in this lasagna. Since I’m more of a cheesy person, I probably wouldn’t order it again, but Loren liked it. It had some nice flavors, but I found it to be a bit on the salty side the more I ate of it. I ended up bringing half of it home. Loren tried the Bambino Mitt which was sort of an Italian sub on thin crust pizza dough.
He really liked it. I didn’t think he was going to eat the entire thing, but he cleared his plate. It had ham, salami, provolone, lettuce, onions, banana peppers, tomato, mayo and Italian dressing on it. Of course, I couldn’t pass up the cannolis.
They were ok. A little too much cinnamon flavor in the shells for me. As for the service, it was lacking. There was only one waitress on the floor and she was overwhelmed. She never stopped by to check on us after the food was delivered and when I ordered the cannoli, she mistakenly filled Loren’s empty iced tea glass with water. Total bill was $28. The food was pretty good, but this may be one of those places where take-out is a better option than dining in.
Bambino’s Pizzeria & Restaurant
2028 Bayshore Blvd
We were going to eat lunch at the Gaelic Dish in Dunedin, but it didn’t look like they were open yet. Or if they were, we couldn’t figure out how to get into the restaurant, so we ended up at Casa Tina instead. Loren likes the fresh salsa here.
He went for some beef tacos and I reverted back to my favorite dish, the chicken flautas.
We both like the freshness of the food here. Good flavors all around and I liked the fact that they didn’t put the guac, sour cream, and pico de gallo on top of my flautas. This way they stayed crunchy instead of getting soggy. Total bill with a drink was $23.
365 Main Street
Stopped by Eli’s BBQ today & picked up a couple of BBQ pork sandwiches & headed down to the water to enjoy them.
Eli’s is it when it comes to BBQ for me. The pork is always tender and moist. There’s always a line of people there since it’s open Friday & Saturdays until 6pm, but always worth the wait. It’s also cash only and the best $15 we spent this week.
360 Skinner Blvd
We decided to try Umberto’s of Long Island in Dunedin for dinner tonight. It looked like a cozy little Italian restaurant. We sat in the back, which was rather dark, so the photos are a bit washed out. We started off with some salad.
If you’re only going to have one salad dressing, it should at least taste like more than oil & vinegar. Mine actually tasted like just vinegar. We tried the calamari.
The texture and crunch were there, but it was completely underseasoned. A little salt & pepper went a long way to improve this dish. The sauce was ok, but didn’t taste like a long simmering sauce by any means.
Loren tried the Chicken Maximo for his entree.
There was a definite lack of fresh ingredients in this dish. Both the asparagus & mushrooms were out of a can and absolutely tasted like it. The entire dish was also underseasoned. I went for the chicken marsala with penne pasta.
Mine suffered the same lack of seasoning and there really wasn’t a lot of marsala sauce on the dish. The chicken was very plain and the lack of an actual steak knife made cutting it more difficult. I’m also not a big fan of canned mushrooms.
As for the service, our waitress was very nice, but unlike the other waitress in the dining area, she didn’t offer us bread or ask if we wanted dessert. For what we got, the meals were overpriced. Total bill with an undrinkable iced tea was $45.
Do you ever watch “Restaurant Impossible”? All during our meal, I could hear Robert Irvine in my head talking about how fresh ingredients and a bit of seasoning would really help the food.
Umberto’s of Long Island
150 Patricia Ave
I was off work today for MLK Day, so we headed into Dunedin and ate lunch at Tom Yum Thai & Sushi. This is one of those places that I really like. The service and food are both very good.
Our lunches started off with a little salad and soup.
I liked the dressing on the salad and the chicken & rice soup had a nice flavor. They even brought mine out without scallions since I had asked them not to put scallions on my pad thai. I really like places that make that connection.
Loren got the spicy tuna bowl for lunch.
It was a beautiful color and he liked the dish. He said it wasn’t killer spicy, which was good and there was plenty of tuna on the plate. I ordered the Pad Thai bento box.
Besides the Pad Thai, it had an egg roll, California roll, three pieces of sushi & three pieces of sashimi. The fish, tuna, salmon & escolar, was really fresh and tasty. Everything on the plate was good and it was definitely too much for me to eat in one sitting. For $23, definitely one of the tastier lunches we’ve had in a while.
Tom Yum Thai & Sushi
104 Patricia Ave
Chilly day in Florida today, so we caught an early movie and then got some BBQ take out from Eli’s BBQ in Dunedin.
$27 got us a full rack of ribs, cole slaw & baked beans which will feed us for both lunch & dinner today. Eli’s got it going on when it comes to ribs. They are fall off the bone tender with just the right amount of smoky goodness. There’s a reason there’s always a line here for the two days a week he’s open. It’s cash only and definitely worth every penny.
Today there was also a sign out front for free hamburgers & hot dogs on Monday, 1/16/2012 starting at 10am until they run out in celebration of MLK Day.
360 Skinner Blvd
We ate dinner at La Trattoria in Dunedin tonight and every time we eat here, I wonder why we don’t do it more often. If you haven’t been there before, it can be a little bit overwhelming at first. There are no menus so you don’t know what anything costs. The owner comes to your table and rattles off appetizer options to you with a very thick Italian accent. Everything sounds delicious, but you have to draw the line somewhere, so we settled on some lobster bisque and an eggplant rollitini. But first, some bread & pizza squares.
Both are tasty, but you have to save room for the lobster bisque.
I have never had lobster bisque with such big chunks of perfectly cooked lobster in it. This was absolutely amazing. It was creamy and had a lovely flavor to it. The eggplant rollitini was tasty too.
We just got one to split. It was filled with ricotta with a nice tomato sauce on top. Once the appetizers are done, the owner comes by with a cart of proteins and goes through a long list of ways he can prepare them for you. There’s seafood, steak, veal, and pork and every preparation he mentions sounds better than the last one. I come here for one dish that is like nirvana to me. It’s penne pasta with crab in a pink amaretto cream sauce.
From the first bite to the last, I’m making giddy “Mmmmm, Mmmmm” noises. There are just some flavors that sing to me and this dish tops them all. It’s very sweet, so Loren doesn’t like it, but it was all I could do to not lick the plate clean. There are large chunks of crab in it and the pasta was cooked just right. I’m salivating just thinking about it again.
Loren went for the NY Strip prepared pizziola style which also came with a side of pasta.
Yes, those are large chunks of garlic in the sauce. The steak was a little overcooked on the ends, but the center was a perfect medium. Considering how thick it was, I was amazed at how well it came out. He did have to add a little salt to it, but otherwise, he enjoyed it. In fact, he ended up taking half of it home because it was so big. We didn’t have any room for dessert tonight; we were both stuffed and with very happy taste buds.
This is definitely not one of those restaurants you want to go to if you’re in a hurry. Service was pretty slow, especially when we were waiting for our check. One of the funniest things about the experience was that the owner always addressed me, “Senora, what would you like?, Senora, how was everything?”, but when it came time for the check, he very pointedly put it in front of Loren. Total bill with an iced tea was $66. Well worth it in my book as it was one of the tastiest meals I’ve had all year.
2152 Main St
Always wanting to try new restaurants, we headed over to Dunedin tonight to eat at Bistro Atlantis. It’s in the space where Walt’s Seasonal Cuisine used to be. The menu is mostly Greek with a flair all their own. Our waiter dropped off some bread and convinced us to try the Shrimp Atlantis appetizer.
The bread was good, slightly warmed and the oil had a hint of herbs and garlic. The appetizer was a great recommendation, their signature dish as it were. The shrimp was placed on toast points with a creamy, garlicy white wine sauce. We would have been happy just to have a bowl of the sauce to dip bread in. It was yummy. I could do without the shrimp tails as it made it difficult to eat, but overall, a win in the appetizer category.
My first visit to any Greek restaurant, it’s a gimme that I’m ordering the pastitsio.
It came with sauteed veggies, rice, and a potato wedge. It didn’t wow me, so I’d probably order something different next time, but it was ok. It was a fairly big piece and I ended up with leftovers.
Loren tried the chicken Atlantis.
The very tender chicken was in a creamy, garlicy sauce, similar to the appetizer, but with artichokes, capers, sun dried tomatoes, basil and served over angel hair pasta. He really liked it and ended up with some leftovers too.
Service was really good at the beginning, but sort of waned by the end of the meal. The space could really use something to dampen the noise level. It’s not a big room, has tile floors, and when there’s a couple of big groups, it gets difficult to have a conversation. Overall, though, this is one of those restaurants that, as Loren would say, “gets it”. The food was fresh, had delicious flavors, was well seasoned, and they served some unique dishes you don’t see everywhere else. Definitely a restaurant we’ll go back to. Total bill with a drink was $49.
1140 Main St