The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

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We both like Johnny’s Italian Restaurant in Clearwater, but they’re usually so crowded that we don’t eat there very often.  Today, we managed to get there after the lunch crowd, but before the dinner crowd, so the restaurant wasn’t very busy at all.

Bring on the Johnny bread.

I think this is one of the only restaurants where Loren eats almost as much bread as I do.   It’s got that perfect crust, texture and flavor and their dipping oil is beyond garlicy.  We ended up asking for a second loaf.

Loren got a salad and I got the New England Clam Chowder.

The soup was ok, but not the best chowder I’ve ever had.  For his entree, Loren ordered the Special Calzone which had a little bit of everything inside.

He liked it and it was way bigger than he could eat in one sitting, so half came home for leftovers.  I got the chicken marsala which came with a side of fettucine alfredo.

This was also too much food for me (ok, maybe we shouldn’t have gotten that second loaf of bread).  I really like their fettucine alfredo.  The chicken was tender and the marsala sauce had a decent flavor, though I would have liked more of it on the plate.  Since we were able to order off the early bird menu, the total bill with a drink was only $24 and we both had leftovers.  We’ll just have to remember Sunday afternoons around 3pm is the perfect time to come by.

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

Johnny's Italian on Urbanspoon

Food4/5
Service4/5
Atmosphere4/5
Value4/5
4.0/5
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  • Filed under: Clearwater, Italian
  • We ate dinner at Jonny Primo’s tonight.  They weren’t very busy for a Friday night even though the parking lot looked full.  We started off with some bread while we looked over the menu.

    They make some really awesome bread here.  It’s warm and soft with just enough crunch on the crust, and the dipping oil was very flavorful.   Loren ordered the same thing he always gets here, the Giobotto.

    This is one of those dishes that has everything you can think of in it.  A huge pile of pasta, plus steak, sausage, chicken and veggies.  There’s always enough leftovers for at least 2 more meals. 

    I decided to try something different tonight, the Italian trio.

    It had chicken parm, lasagne and cheese ravioli.  I have to say, it’s not a dish I’d order again.  The chicken wasn’t very tender.  I ended up not eating much of it.  The lasagne had a lot of sausage in it, so that was the overwhelming flavor.  I did like the cheese ravioli though.  They were in alfredo sauce which was a nice change. 

    There was something about our waiter that I just didn’t like.  Loren called him insincere and I think that’s the right word to describe him.  It was as if our being there in his section was an inconvenience for him.  Even when I asked what they had for dessert, he just flippantly pointed to the dessert menu which was on the back of a placard on the table instead of telling me what they had.  His whole attitude just turned us off.  Total dinner with a drink was $36.

    Jonny Primo’s Italian Grill
    33180 US 19 N
    Palm Harbor, FL
    727-772-7874

    Jonny Primos on Urbanspoon

    Food3/5
    Service2/5
    Atmosphere3/5
    Value3/5
    2.7/5

    We ate dinner at Panos Kouzina tonight.  They were fairly busy, with several tables coming in at one time, so service was a bit slower than usual.  We ordered off their specials menu, which is a great deal.   I got a Greek salad and Loren ordered a house salad.

    The Greek salad had big chunks of feta on it.  Unfortunately, I forgot that they put sliced onions on the salad, so I had to pick those off. The dressing was very tangy.  One of my favorite things here is the bread.

    Loren got the souvlaki and I ordered the eggplant parmesean.

    He liked the souvlaki.  He’s had it here a few times before.  This was the first time I tried the eggplant and unfortunately the last.  It was just too mushy.  I expect a bit of crunch and texture to fried eggplant, but this just disolved in your mouth, no chewing necessary.  Total bill for both dinners and a drink was $20.

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

    Panos Kouzina on Urbanspoon

    Food3/5
    Service3/5
    Atmosphere3/5
    Value4/5
    3.2/5

    We headed out to Tarpon tonight to go back to the Zante Cafe.  We needed some awesome food and they didn’t disappoint.  The owner seemed a bit frazzled as the restaurant filled up, but they still managed to bring out one delicious course after the next.  Their kids tend to the dining room and the youngest was more interested in playing than helping out.  But, our drinks stayed filled and they were pretty good at clearing away plates.  It’s a very laid back place, so expect to spend about 2 hours here for dinner.  Everything is made fresh and well worth the wait.

    First out were their homemade rolls.

    Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside with a slight hint of garlic, served fresh out of the oven.  It’s a good thing they just serve these one at a time, otherwise, I’d fill up on bread without thinking twice about it.   Next up was the gumbo.

    The flavors are delicate in this gumbo, but you can taste the freshness of all the ingredients.  Chicken and sausage in a light, flavorful broth.  Again, I could eat so much more of this and be incredibly happy. 

    We ordered the Crawfish Vol Au Vent for an appetizer.

    Crawfish, mushrooms, and onions in a creamy sauce served over heart shaped puffed pastry.  I’m guessing the heart shape was because it’s Valentine’s weekend, but regardless it was yummy.  There were lots of crawfish and mushrooms and the sauce was lightly spiced.    

    Loren ordered the seafood fra diablo with a spice level of 2 out of 5.

    Crawfish, shrimp, mussels, scallops and veggies in a creamy, spicy sauce over spaghetti.  It had a lot of flavor and it all blended well together.  Loren would have preferred rice to spaghetti and he’s not a fan of cauliflower, but he still enjoyed the dish. 

    I ordered the Paneed Tilapia w/ Crawfish and Tasso in Brandy Cream.

    The tilapia filet was thick and cooked perfectly.  It was flaky and tender with a crisp breading.  The crawfish and mushroom brandy cream sauce really complemented the fish well. 

    At this point, we really were quite full, but I wanted to try the bananas foster.

    The owner/chef comes out and flambes it right at the table.  It was delicious served over vanilla ice cream and whipped cream.  It had a nice carmelization and was a perfect ending to a wonderful meal. 

    And even better, we had a $25 Restaurant.com coupon, so the bill before tip ended up being $42.  Absolutely the best $42 we’ve spent on food so far this year. 

    Zante Cafe Neo
    13 N Safford Ave
    Tarpon Springs, FL
    727-934-5558

    Zante Cafe Neo on Urbanspoon

    Food5/5
    Service3/5
    Atmosphere4/5
    Value5/5
    4.3/5

    Loren said he wanted a salad for dinner so I suggested Olive Garden.  We haven’t eaten there in a long time.  Being Superbowl Sunday it wasn’t very crowded, yet the service was a bit slow.

    We started off with salad and breadsticks.

    Normally, I scarf an entire basket of breadsticks, but these weren’t all that fresh.  The salad was good though.  I really like the dressing they use.

    Loren got the stuffed chicken marsala.

    The chicken was tender and the sauce was tasty, especially over mashed potatoes.  He managed to stop himself from eating the whole thing and took some home for leftovers.  (he knew I was planning on ordering dessert).

    I got the same thing I always get at Olive Garden, the fettucine alfredo.

    They make a nice alfredo sauce here, but they need to put more on the plate.  The dish gets dry after a while, but it’s still my favorite thing on the menu.

    And for dessert, I just couldn’t pass up the dolcini.

    Three little dessert cups of yummy goodness.  We got the chocolate mousse, the dark chocolate with caramel, and the strawberry & white chocolate.  They were all really delicious.  The chocolate mousse was my favorite, but the strawberry one ran a close second.  The nice thing about them is that they were all fairly light, which was perfect after such a heavy meal.  Plus the different flavors were wonderful.  Total bill with a drink was $39. 

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

    Olive Garden on Urbanspoon

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