The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

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Archive for the ‘Italian’ Category

We’d already eaten at two new places for us this weekend, so I decided to try for a third.  We ate dinner at La Bella Eva over in Clearwater.  It’s a small Italian pizza place in strip mall on Belcher.  It was nice and toasty inside which was perfect on this rather chilly evening.  We decided to try the potato soup.

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My first bite was very flavorful, but cold.  We had to send it back to the kitchen to get heated up.  After that, though, things went much better.  The soup was really good.  Thick & rich with a wonderful flavor.  Loren kept trying to slide it closer to his side of the table.  The bread was crusty on the outside and soft on the inside.  You know it’s good when Loren reaches for more before I get a chance to.  We also got some calamari.

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The calamari was a little chewy and needed some salt, but otherwise pretty good.  You can get a medium or spicy sauce to go with it and we chose the medium.  It wasn’t really spicy, but definitely had some red pepper in it.  At this point, we both realized we had already ordered too much food, and then the entrees came.  Loren got the linguine with meatballs.

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He liked it.  It was a rich sauce.  I though it tasted like there was wine in it that hadn’t been fully cooked off.  I got the eggplant rollatini.

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It was like lava when it came to the table.  The eggplant was cooked very well.  It still had some texture to it and the cheese and sauce were tasty.  Too many places overcook the eggplant to mush, but this was a really good dish.  We both had leftovers and decided to split a Manhattan truffle for dessert.

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Vanilla and chocolate ice cream covering a cherry & almond center and completely enrobed in dark chocolate.  It was delicious.  They had several different varieties of these truffles and I think we may have to go back just to try some of the other ones.  Total bill with a drink was $38.

La Bella Eva
1469 S. Belcher Rd
Clearwater, FL
727-400-6824

La Bella Eva on Urbanspoon

Food4/5
Service3/5
Atmosphere3/5
Value3/5
3.4/5

Yummy Subs


I was in the mood for a sub for lunch, so we drove over to Largo to Cesarina Deli & Bakery.  They have a big variety of cold and hot subs along with some Italian dishes.  I went for the California cheese steak.

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I couldn’t even begin to pick it up & eat it until I had taken half of the meat off.  There was so much of it and it was really flavorful and delicious.  It had a wonderful seasoning to it and the bread was fresh and tasty.  I was only able to eat half of it.  Loren went for the muffalata.

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He was only able to eat half of his too.  He said the bread was crusted in some really tasty herbs, the deli meat was fresh and the olive spread was tasty too.  Overall, some really yummy sandwiches.  With a couple of drinks, the total bill was $19.  I also ended up spending about $30 in the deli on some meats, olives, a really delicious cannoli, and some other baked goods.  I had to buy some of this cake just so I could photograph it.

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Definitely check this place out if you’re in the area.  The subs are delicious.

Cesarina Deli & Bakery
2575 East Bay Dr, Ste 1
Largo, FL
727- 536-2119

Cesarina Italian Deli & Bakery on Urbanspoon

Food4/5
Service4/5
Atmosphere3/5
Value4/5
3.9/5
  • 0 Comments
  • Filed under: Italian, Largo, Subs
  • Poor Service


    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

    Bascetti’s
    1568 Main Street
    Dunedin, FL
    727-738-2808

    Bascetti's on Urbanspoon 

    Food3/5
    Service2/5
    Atmosphere3/5
    Value2/5
    2.6/5

    AAA Coupon


    We had a AAA coupon for 25% off at Olive Garden that expired today, so we headed over there for a late lunch.  We weren’t sure how busy they were going to be on Christmas Eve, but when we got there at 1pm, we didn’t have to wait for a table.   We started off with soup, salad and breadsticks.

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    I think we could have stopped right here and been very full and very contented.  The breadsticks were fresh and soft and both the salad and soup were yummy.  I like the pasta fagioli soup here.  It has a nice blend of flavors and textures.  For some reason, we felt the need to order an appetizer.

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    Calamari & stuffed mushrooms… oh so good!  They prepare a really tender calamari here.  The mushrooms were also flavorful and filling.  As if this wasn’t enough food, we ordered entrees as well.  Loren got the braised beef tortelloni.

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    It was definitely more tortelloni than beef, but he said it was very good.  I ordered the fettucine alfredo.

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    This is my favorite dish here, though it could have used a little more sauce on it.  It’s very creamy and the noodles are cooked perfectly.   There’s a reason we don’t come here very often; we eat too much.  We both took home some leftovers.  For a chain restaurant, they really do prepare the food very well.  After the coupon, the total bill was $26.

    Olive Garden
    29461 Us-19 N
    Clearwater, FL
    (727) 787-3988

    Olive Garden on Urbanspoon

    Food4/5
    Service4/5
    Atmosphere4/5
    Value4/5
    4.0/5
  • 0 Comments
  • Filed under: Clearwater, Italian
  • We went to a holiday dinner at Maggiano’s Little Italy in Westshore Plaza with about a dozen people.  The only reservation they could get was at 4:30pm, but we didn’t get out of there until around 8:30pm.  I didn’t take any photos during the meal, but still wanted to comment on the food.

    The bread on the table was soft and chewy and very good.  We also got the fried calamari, fried zucchini, stuffed mushrooms and mussels for appetizers.  I didn’t try the mussels, but the people who did seemed to really enjoy them.  The zucchini was very good.  Crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.  I’d definitely order it again.  Both the stuffed mushrooms and calamari were good too.  I think everyone at the table was full before our entrees came out.

    Loren got the salmon oscar and really liked it.  The salmon was cooked well and the crab and sauce on top had some wonderful flavors.  I ordered the mushroom ravioli with braised veal in a marsala cream sauce.  It was delicious.  From the first bite to the last, the textures and flavors just danced in my mouth.  It was yummy.  Everyone at the table seemed to really enjoy the food.  We also got dessert which I ended up taking over half of it home because it was huge.

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    This is what was left after Loren & I ate some and we gave some to another person at the table.  It was a huge piece of chocolate cake with a Sambuca mousse.  It was moist and rich and very chocolatety; however, I probably wouldn’t order it again.  I didn’t know what Sambuca was before I ordered it (an anise flavored liqueur), but it seems that both Loren & I had the same reaction to it.  It numbed the roof of my mouth and my tongue.  It was a very odd feeling.

     

    There were a few issues with the evening.  There was one entree that didn’t come out until almost everyone was halfway through eating.  I guess it got overcooked in the kitchen, so they had to prepare a new one.  The restaurant is very loud and parking is a small nightmare, but granted this was the Friday before Christmas.  I don’t know what the final bill was, but it wasn’t cheap.  The prices are a bit on the high side, but the food was really good.  We don’t get over to that part of Tampa very often, but we’d definitely eat at Maggiano’s again.

    Maggiano’s Little Italy
    203 Westshore Plz
    Tampa, FL
    813-288-9000

    Maggiano's Little Italy on Urbanspoon

    Food5/5
    Service3/5
    Atmosphere3/5
    Value3/5
    3.8/5
  • 0 Comments
  • Filed under: Italian, Tampa