The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

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Italian Food


We timed our dinner just right at Johnny’s Italian in Clearwater.  This place gets busy on the weekends but we were able to get in & get a table without a wait.  Loren started off with a salad and I went for the New England clam chowder, but let’s face it, we come here for the fresh baked Johnny bread.

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That bread.  It’s warm and soft and you just don’t care that you’re going to smell like garlic for the rest of the night because that dipping oil is just so delicious.  The clam chowder was creamy, thick and rich and hit the spot.  We decided to try the crab cakes tonight.

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They were quite good.  Very little filler, just lots of crab.  The sauce on the plate had a bit of a zing to it.  Loren tried the chicken Briscante for his entree.

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The chicken was very tender and the pasta cooked perfectly.  It had a light cream sauce that was quite tasty.  I went for my favorite dish on the menu, the chicken marsala with fettucine alfredo.

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I had lots of leftovers tonight.  The chicken was tender and the alfredo sauce is so creamy and delicious.  And since I took half of my entree home, we couldn’t pass up a slice of the chocolate dream cake.

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This cake is so rich and chocolatety.  The frosting is a fudgey ganache and the cake is quite moist.  So good.  Total bill with a drink was $47.

Johnny’s Italian Restaurant
2907 SR 590 #1
Clearwater, FL
727-797-2940

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

Loren was in the mood for Italian food tonight, so we headed over to Johnny’s in Clearwater.  We just beat the dinner crowd and didn’t have to wait for a table.  There’ s no passing on the bread here.  It’s so yummy.

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The dipping oil has enough garlic in it to ward off a gang of vampires.  Tasty, but really strong.  While Loren went for the salad, I opted for the New England clam chowder.

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The chowder was thick and creamy and had a good flavor.  We hadn’t completely finished when our calamari arrived.

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Some pieces were a bit chewier than others, but overall it was good.  The tomato sauce served with it had a little bit of a kick.  Our entrees arrived before we had finished the calamari.  It seems they were in a hurry to turn over tables.   Loren tried the linguine with red clam sauce.

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He said the clams were a little chewy, but the dish was flavorful.  I thought it had a really strong aroma.  It was also way more than he could eat in one sitting.  I went for the chicken marsala with fettucine alfredo on the side.

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I would have liked the chicken to have been more tender, but the marsala sauce was tasty.  I love their fettucine alfredo when it’s done right.  I’ve had mixed experiences here where the sauce breaks and you’re left with a pool of oil on the plate, but tonight’s pasta was spot on.  I also ended up with leftovers.

We decided to try something different for dessert and ordered the cookies and cream ice cream cake.

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When it arrived, it was nothing like I expected.  When I think of ice cream cake, but mind goes back to those rolled ice cream cakes.  This was just ice cream with a fudge layer on top.  There wasn’t any cake to speak of.  The ice cream was good, but it’s probably not something we’d order again.  Total bill with a drink was $44.

Johnny’s Italian Restaurant
2907 SR 590 #1
Clearwater, FL
727-797-2940

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Food3/5
Service3/5
Atmosphere3/5
Value3/5
3.0/5

Cuban Food


We were down in Ruskin tonight and stopped at the Ybor Grille for dinner on the recommendation of a friend.  Loren started off with a salad and I devoured some bread.

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The bread came with an olive butter that Loren liked, but since I’m not an olive fan, I just stuck with the warm, crusty, tasty bread.  I went for a Cuban sandwich and fries.

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I liked the flavors in the sandwich and the bread was perfect, but would have preferred that it had been warmed all the way through.  The meats in the middle were still cold.  It was a huge sandwich and I ended up taking half of it home with me.  Loren tried the Lechon.

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The pork was very tender and tasty.  Normally, I don’t like onions on the rice and  beans, but these were sauteed and added a nice flavor to them.  We ended up taking half of this dish home too.  For dessert, we tried the bread pudding.

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Loren liked it more than I did.  It was served cold, which was off putting to me, and it had a dark, almost molasses flavor to it.  I just never knew there were so many variations to bread pudding.  It’s completely different everywhere we try it.  Overall though, it was a lot of tasty food for $28.

Ybor Grille
105 E Shell Point Rd
Ruskin, FL
813-641-7300

Ybor Grille on Urbanspoon

Food4/5
Service4/5
Atmosphere3/5
Value3/5
3.7/5
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  • Filed under: Cuban, Dessert
  • Johnny Bread


    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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
    Clearwater, FL
    727-797-2940

    Johnny's Italian on Urbanspoon

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

    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    He said it was very tasty.  My pasta with crab was just divine.

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    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.

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    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.

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

    La Trattoria on Urbanspoon

    Food5/5
    Service4/5
    Atmosphere3/5
    Value3/5
    4.1/5
  • 0 Comments
  • Filed under: Dunedin, Italian