The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

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Panos Kouzina has changed owners and they’ve renamed it Bella Kouzina.  It looks the same inside and the menus haven’t been changed yet, but there was definitely a difference in the food.

We both decided on the clam chowder to go with our entrees.

The chowder was pretty good.  Not quite as creamy as other places, but it had a good flavor to it.  The bread was tasty.  I seem to remember it being a lot more garlicy here before though.  For his entree, Loren got the Pork Medallions.

He said the pork were very tender and tasty.  The dish was served with rice, but he sort of wished it was served with a vegetable as well to round out the meal.  I ordered the chicken marsala with a side of fettucine alfredo.

My plate was very plain looking.  The marsala sauce was very thin and looked like chicken stock, though it absolutely tasted like marsala.  It had a nice sweet flavor, though I’d just never seem a marsala dish that looked that color before.  (Here’s a photo of the last time I ordered it)  The chicken was ok, though, very plain.  It didn’t even have any sort of breading on it whatsoever.   They also hit on a pet peeve of mine by not giving us steak knives to cut our food.  I’m sorry, but butter knives just don’t cut it, literally.

Surprisingly, Loren liked the taste of the fettucine alfredo more than I did.  There was just something off about it.  I don’t know if it was the type of cheese in it or if they added some additional herbs.  All I know is that it just didn’t do it for me.

Unfortunately, our waitress ignored our table quite a bit.  We were done eating long before she ever stopped by again.  And once she brought us boxes for our leftovers, she disappeared again.  The owner ended up clearing the dishes off our table.  We didn’t even get asked if we wanted dessert.  Total bill was $30 with a drink.

Bella Kouzina
3101 SR 580
Safety Harbor, FL
(727) 797–2667

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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.

La Trattoria
2152 Main St
Dunedin, FL
(727) 733-5664

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  • Filed under: Dunedin, Italian
  • I’d eaten lunch at Zerillo’s Italian Grill before, but this is the first time we’ve gone for dinner.  It was really crowded for a Friday night and we had to wait about 15 minutes for a table.  There were a lot of families with small children eating here tonight so the decibel levels were a bit high.

    Our waiter was flaky right from the beginning.  He brought our drink order, then disappeared.  The specials board said they had stuffed mushrooms, but when we went to order them, the waiter said they didn’t have them anymore.  Same thing with the sirloin Loren tried to order.  We settled on the calamari for an appetizer.

    The tomato sauce for dipping was really tasty.  Loren liked the calamari more than I did.  I found it to be a bit on the chewy side.  We both got salads with our meal and the waiter brought over some bread.

    The bread was warm, which I really like, but the crust was really hard.  Instead of the sirloin they no longer have, Loren ended up ordering a filet with garlic mashed.

    It was a pretty stark looking plate.  The filet was tender and he liked it, but they didn’t quite get it to medium.  I liked the mashed potatoes more than Loren did.  He thought they had been whipped too much and were pasty.  They had a lot of garlic in them too.  I ordered the chicken marsala which came with a side of pasta.

    When I ordered, I asked the waiter if I could have fettucine alfredo and he said no problem.  What he neglected to mention was the $4 upcharge for it.  And the kicker?  I didn’t even eat it because it tasted overly salty to me.  It may have been the cheese they used, but either way, I just didn’t find it edible which is a shame since I’ve enjoyed it in the past.  When the waiter cleared the plates, he even asked what was wrong with it & I told him, yet they still charged me $4 for it.  The chicken marsala was pretty good.  I liked the taste of the sauce and it went well with Loren’s mashed potatoes.

    There’s no reason we should have been in this restaurant as long as we were.  There were long gaps between courses and the waiter had horrible timing.  He didn’t bring out any of our dishes and failed to check on us in a reasonable amount of time after anything had gotten to the table.  Dishes weren’t cleared and we sat with empty glasses waiting on our check.  Although the list of desserts looked yummy, since he didn’t bother to ask if we wanted anything and we were so frustrated at that point, we skipped the sweets.  Total bill was $52 and I doubt we’ll be back anytime soon.

    Zerillo’s Italian Grill
    11653 Countryway Blvd
    Tampa, FL

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  • Filed under: Italian, Tampa
  • So Long Nick

    We ate dinner at Panos Kouzina tonight and found out the restaurant has been sold to the guy who used to own Alberto’s in Oldsmar.  Tonight was the original owner Nick’s last night in the restaurant.  He came over and chatted with us for a while when he noticed me taking photos and said he’d been reading my blog.

    Tonight we tried the Mediterranean hand tossed pizza.

    It was really good with a very fresh taste to it.  It had chicken, spinach, sun dried tomatoes, feta, and garlic.  I’m usually a fan of a deep dish crust pizza, but I enjoyed the hand tossed crust on this one.   The last time we had pizza here we both got personal pizzas and the crust seemed a lot thinner on that one.

    Since we’re not sure what’s going to change with the new owner, I figured I better get a piece of the chocolate cake while it’s still there.

    It’s got the fudgey goodness.  It’s such a thick, rich yummy chocolate cake.  Total bill was $23.  The name of the restaurant will likely change in the next few months so we’ll have to go back and check it out under the new owner.

    Panos Kouzina
    3101 SR 580
    Safety Harbor, FL
    (727) 797–2667

    Panos Kouzina on Urbanspoon


    We stopped in Bryson City for dinner tonight at Pasqualinos Italian Restaurant.  Unfortunately, out of all the places we ate on vacation, this one ended up being at the bottom of the list.  From start to finish, service and flavor were lacking.

    The restaurant was understaffed and the waiter we had was clueless.  He was completely overwhelmed with the number of tables he had and other people working in the restaurant did more for our table and other tables of his, than he did.

    Once we finally got our order placed, they brought some bread to the table.

    The bread sticks were ok, but the dipping sauce had way too much balsamic vinegar in it for my taste.  Our dinners came with soup or salad, so we got one of each.

    The pasta fagioli was like mush with no flavor whatsoever.  I never put salt on my food and this needed it desparately.  It was so bland and a foreshadow of everything else to come.

    Loren ordered the ribeye for his entree.  They actually had another steak special tonight but we didn’t know about it until we heard our waiter tell another table.

    The steak was cooked well, but again lacked any seasoning whatsoever.  Same with the marinara sauce.  It tasted like tart tomatoes with no spices at all.  A sauce has to cook for a lot longer in order to mellow that tartness.   I ordered the fettucine alfredo.

    The sauce was creamy, but again lacked in flavor.  The alfredo sauce at Olive Garden is much better.   Despite my better judgment, I ordered a piece of French Silk pie to go.

    It would have been much better without the Hershey’s syrup drenching it.  I couldn’t even taste the pie.  Total bill with a drink was $41.  This is not a place we’d recommend.

    Pasqualinos Italian
    25 Everett Street
    Bryson City, NC
    (828) 488-9555

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  • Filed under: Dessert, Italian, NC