The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

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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


Quiet Dinner

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
Dunedin, FL

Bascetti's on Urbanspoon

  • Filed under: Dunedin, Italian
  • Stone Crabs

    It’s not often that emailed offers work on me, but when I got the limited time $16.90 offer for a pound of stone crabs from Bonefish Grill, I just couldn’t resist.  I haven’t had stone crabs in quite a few years and we figured there probably wouldn’t be a wait on a Tuesday night, so off we went.  We started off with bread and calamari.

    Bonefish really does make some of the best calamari in the area.  It’s tender and comes with an Asian dipping sauce that’s really tasty. It’s both sweet and spicy.   The bread was fresh and warm and delicious as well.  Loren got a salad and I got some of their crab corn chowder.

    Their corn chowder is really thick and creamy with lots of crab in it.  It’s almost a meal in itself.  Loren got the mahi for his entrée.

    He said it was perfectly cooked and tasty.  He didn’t care for the carrots side dish though.  He said they were too sweet and too hard.  I, of course, got the stone crabs with some drawn butter.

    I didn’t like the fact that they were served cold, so the waitress took them back to the kitchen to get heated up.  Cold crab just doesn’t work for me.  Otherwise, though, they were just how I remembered them.  It cracks me up (no pun intended) that a pound of crab is only 5 claws, but I was so full from the calamari, chowder, and bread that it was fine.  Our server was very attentive and friendly.  Total bill with a drink was $55.

    Bonefish Grill
    2519 McMullen Booth Rd
    Clearwater, FL

    Bonefish Grill on Urbanspoon

  • Filed under: Clearwater, Seafood
  • We decided to give Bella Kouzina another try, but unfortunately, this visit wasn’t any better than the last.  It started with the fried calamari.

    We order calamari almost every place that has it on the menu, so I think I’m a pretty good judge of how it should taste.  This was just beyond chewy and had no flavor whatsoever.  When the waitress stopped by and asked how it was, I told her it was chewy.  She looked at me and said, “But, it’s calamari.”   I’m guessing she’s just never had calamari cooked the right way before.  She took it back to the kitchen and we heard someone say “drop another order of calamari”.  Since nothing else was said as to cooking it differently, we ended up sending the second batch back as well & they took it off our check.  The waitress said they must have just gotten a bad shipment.  Personally, we both thought they just didn’t have the oil at the right temperature, so it was getting overcooked.  But, on to the soups.

    Loren got the clam chowder and I got the pasta fagioli.  His had a decent flavor, but it wasn’t thick and creamy.  My first bite tasted like baked beans and each subsequent bite had sort of a metallic taste when it hit my tongue.  Loren said he could taste what I was tasting as well.  The bread, however, was the highlight of the meal for me.

    Loren ordered the salmon Cleopatra which had artichokes, celery and mushrooms in a white wine lemon sauce.

    He said it was ok.  At first, he didn’t like the sauce on it. I tasted it and thought it  just tasted like olive oil with a little bit of lemon in it. His dish also came with pasta.  He said it was overcooked and the sauce wasn’t great.   I decided to try the pastitsio.

    Again, this is a dish I order at most Greek restaurants, so I expect certain flavors.  This one didn’t deliver.  Instead of being cooked as one large dish and portioned out, it looks like an individual serving was made.  The pasta wasn’t drained properly, so there was water in the bottom of the bowl.  The meat filling had no flavor and the pasta sauce was tart.  It hadn’t cooked anywhere near long enough to develop any decent flavors.  This was a pretty disappointing meal for $29.

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

    Bella Kouzina on Urbanspoon


    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
    Dunedin, FL

    Bascetti's on Urbanspoon