The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.


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We wandered around Universal Studios all morning and then decided to get lunch out on City Walk.  We didn’t realize so many of the restaurants didn’t open until late afternoon.  We finally ended up out on the patio at Pastamore.  The waitress brought bread & dipping oil to the table first.


The bread was wonderful.  Soft and warm and very tasty.  The dipping oil, on the other hand was served in a rather large bowl and didn’t have any herbs in it.  It was just odd.  We started off with the fried calamari.


I felt the portion size was small for a $9 appetizer, but I had to remember we were in a theme park.  Realistically, though, it was enough to share without totally spoiling our appetites for our entrees.  The calamari was cooked well and had a nice crunchy exterior without being too chewy on the inside.  The balsamic glaze and garlic aioli added a nice flavor, but the marinara sauce was pretty bland.  Loren got the salmon salad.


He said the salmon was cooked perfectly and he enjoyed the salad.  He likes olives and there were plenty in the salad.  I went for the chicken marsala.


This was the lunch half portion, though to be honest, I didn’t realize that’s what I was ordering.  Again, I had to remember theme park prices.  The chicken was very tender and the pasta was just the right tenderness. The dish could have used a bit more of the marsala sauce, but overall, it was pretty tasty.  I was also craving chocolate, so we settled on the chocolate sabayon for dessert.


It was a pretty little plate with a very tasty raspberry sauce.  It was a light and fluffy sort of dessert, just what I was craving.  Total bill with a drink was $47.

6000 Universal Blvd
Orlando, FL

Pastamoré Ristorante and Market on Urbanspoon


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.




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

La Bella Eva on Urbanspoon


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.



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.



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.



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

  • 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.


    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
    Dunedin, FL

    Bascetti's on Urbanspoon 


    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.







    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.



    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.



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



    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

  • Filed under: Clearwater, Italian