The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

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Awesome Grits


Johnny Grit’s recently opened up where Nana’s was in Tarpon Springs.  We were amazed at how different the interior looked.  It went from kitschy to classy.  It was like watching an episode of Restaurant Impossible.  Remove the clutter, remove the carpet, repaint and all of a sudden the whole restaurant seems brighter.  Loren went for the shrimp and grits with andouille sausage.

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Johnny definitely knows his grits.  I kept stealing bites off of Loren’s plate.  The grits were creamy and cheesy and perfectly cooked and seasoned.  Loren said he could have eaten just a bowl of grits with the sauce on top.  The andouille was spicy and flavorful.  The only thing he didn’t like was that the shrimp still had the tails on so that made them a little difficult to eat.  I’d definitely order this dish again.  I went for the Southern Chicken Hash which came with two sides.

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The hash was delicious.  The chicken was tender and the gravy was flavorful and rich.  It also had potatoes, onions, and mushrooms.  So good.  I ate every last bite of this dish.  The sweet potato fries were good.  Loren actually liked the mac & cheese more than I did.  I like a more mild, creamy cheddar and this one was a bit too sharp for me.  The menu said that the chef is Italian and his mother made him put cannoli on the menu, so how could I pass that up?

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It was a pretty tasty cannoli.  Mom knows best.  The restaurant is only open for breakfast and lunch, but we’ll definitely be back.  I wish I had a bowl of those grits right now.  Mmmm.. Total bill with a drink was $29.

Johnny Grits
857 E. Klosterman Rd
Tarpon Springs, FL
727-942-4748

Johnny Grits on Urbanspoon

Food5/5
Service4/5
Atmosphere4/5
Value4/5
4.4/5

One of our favorite pizzas is the Grandma’s pizza at Corteos in Palm Harbor, so it’s doubly disappointing when it doesn’t turn out as well as we know it can.

We got it with mushrooms and meatballs.  Besides taking a really long time to come out of the kitchen, the pizza was so unevenly cooked.  The middle was really soggy, one side was crispy, and the other side not quite there.  Our waiter disappeared, so I think it was the manager that boxed up the leftovers.  She asked how it was and we said not as good as it should have been and she said, “Because it was soggy in the middle?  Sometimes the oil in the pan does that. “.   Obviously, she noticed it when she went to box the pizza, but you would think that if this has happened before, they’d find a way to fix it.  She did offer me a free cannoli though.

It was ok, but had a little too much cinnamon for my tastes.  Total bill with a drink was $21.

Corteo’s Pizza and Pasta
32922 US Hwy 19 N
Palm Harbor, FL
727-781-9114

Corteo's Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Food2/5
Service2/5
Atmosphere3/5
Value3/5
2.3/5
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  • Filed under: Palm Harbor, Pizza
  • We decided to try Bambino Pizzeria in Dunedin for dinner tonight.  Being July, the first thing we noticed was that the air conditioners were not able to properly cool the space down which made for a somewhat uncomfortable dining experience.  We started off with some eggplant sticks.

    Loren was hesitant at first, but they were really good.  Crunchy on the outside with perfectly cooked pieces of eggplant inside.  They came with a side of marinara sauce that was pretty tasty.  Loren liked the bread more than I did.  It had lots of cheese and herbs on top, but it was a little too crunchy for me.

    I decided to try the lasagna which also came with a side salad.

    There was a high proportion of meat to cheese in this lasagna.  Since I’m more of a cheesy person, I probably wouldn’t order it again, but Loren liked it.  It had some nice flavors, but I found it to be a bit on the salty side the more I ate of it.  I ended up bringing half of it home.  Loren tried the Bambino Mitt which was sort of an Italian sub on thin crust pizza dough.

    He really liked it.  I didn’t think he was going to eat the entire thing, but he cleared his plate.  It had ham, salami, provolone, lettuce, onions, banana peppers, tomato, mayo and Italian dressing on it.  Of course, I couldn’t pass up the cannolis.

    They were ok.  A little too much cinnamon flavor in the shells for me.  As for the service, it was lacking.  There was only one waitress on the floor and she was overwhelmed.  She never stopped by to check on us after the food was delivered and when I ordered the cannoli, she mistakenly filled Loren’s empty iced tea glass with water.  Total bill was $28.  The food was pretty good, but this may be one of those places where take-out is a better option than dining in.

    Bambino’s Pizzeria & Restaurant
    2028 Bayshore Blvd
    Dunedin, FL
    727-734-5555

    Bambino Pizza and Restaurant on Urbanspoon

    Food3/5
    Service2/5
    Atmosphere2/5
    Value3/5
    2.6/5

    Good Flavors


    We drove up to Tarpon Springs tonight to have dinner at The Plum Tomato.  It’s a little Italian restaurant and though our first impression wasn’t great, the food made up for it.  When we walked in the door, we weren’t greeted by anyone.  Waitresses walked by and no one acknowledged us and then an older gentleman (I’m guessing the owner) sort of looked at us, but I honestly couldn’t tell if he was a customer or worked there.  He eventually came all the way over to us & directed us to a table being cleared.

    They started us off with some homemade bread.

    The bread was warm and tasty.  Would have been nice to have a plate of oil & herbs to dip it in.  It was gone in a few minutes though.  Our entrees came with soup or salad and we both chose the clam chowder.

    It was really creamy and had some rich flavors to it.  Very, very tasty and had a nice assortment of ingredients that weren’t mushy and a good depth of flavor.  We also decided to try the calamari.

    It was good, but not great.  Loren liked it more than I did.  It was a little on the chewy side, mostly because the pieces were very thin, but the breading was flavorful and the marinara sauce was very good.

    Loren got the chicken mediterranean which was chicken & eggplant in a lemony sauce which also came with a side of pasta.

    Eggplant is not the easiest thing to get right and they did a really good job with it here.  It still had texture and the flavors blended together very well.  The chicken was tender and the sauce was good.  He even ended up with some leftovers.

    I ordered the pasta bolognese based on another review I had read.

    I swear there was a pound of pasta in this bowl.  I absolutely had leftovers.  The sauce was slow cooked and you could really taste the deep flavor of the wine that only comes from letting the sauce simmer for hours.    Really tasty.

    I also had to get a cannoli to go.

    It was pretty good.  One of the better ones I’ve had lately.  I think for to-go orders though, any toppings should be put in a separate container on the side, otherwise the shell gets soggy.  Honestly, it didn’t even need the chocolate sauce & chocolate chips.

    Overall, the food was really good.  We sat in the booth furthest to the back, so we heard & saw a lot of the service delays.  The were busy tonight and we could hear the upset customers waiting on late pizza deliveries as well as the wait staff going back & forth with the kitchen on orders.  We had both a waitress & waiter that tended to our table and they were really good, but where we were sitting, I felt a definite tension in the overall air.  It also didn’t help that the guy I’m assuming is the owner, sort of hung out at the back of the restaurant where we were and it felt awkward.  Total bill with a drink was $43.

    The Plum Tomato
    1988 Pinellas Ave S
    Tarpon Springs, FL
    (727) 944-3330

    The Plum Tomato on Urbanspoon

    Food4/5
    Service4/5
    Atmosphere2/5
    Value4/5
    3.7/5

    Luck Ran Out


    The last couple of new restaurants we visited were really good, but our luck ran out when we went to the Lombardi Cafe today.

    The place was empty for Sunday lunch.  Just one other table with a bunch of annoying children.  It’s an Italian restaurant with pasta dishes, pizza and sandwiches, but it’s sort of set up like a sports bar with a bunch of TV’s all tuned to sports channels.   Plus there was a DJ set up in one corner & a disco ball on the ceiling, so I’m not totally sure what the overall vibe of the place is supposed to be.

    But, on to the food.  We started off with some calamari.

    It had a decent crunch, but was a bit chewy and definitely underseasoned.  The sauce was really thin and watery.  The flavor was ok, but it just dripped off the calamari.  Loren got an Italian sub with potato salad.

    It was huge.  Definitely enough for two meals and he liked it.  I, on the otherhand, ordered a Philly cheesesteak and ended up sending it back.

    I’m not sure how to describe what it was that I didn’t like about the sub.  The first thing I did was just pick a piece of meat off and tasted it and immediately didn’t like the flavor.   I don’t know if it was herbs blended with it or what, but it just didn’t taste right to me.  I tried a couple more bites, but just couldn’t get past the odd flavor.  Loren tried it and didn’t seem to think there was anything wrong with it, but it wasn’t something I was going to eat.  I also didn’t like how crusty the bread was.  The waiter saw I wasn’t eating it and offered to bring me something else, so I went for a simple ham & cheese.

    It was ok, nothing to write home about, but at least it was edible.  I wasn’t a fan of the bread they used here.  It was just too thick and hard to eat.  I also didn’t like the potato salad.  It was too sweet and very generic.  Definitely not homemade.

    I also got a dessert to go since I figured it wasn’t likely we’d be coming back to eat again.

    Believe it or not, there’s a cannoli in there somewhere.  Talk about overdoing it.  I’m of the mind that you should be able to eat a cannoli with your hands.  There was so much extra filling, whipped cream & chocolate sauce ladled on top of it that you had to eat it with a fork.   The overall flavor was ok, but it was way too messy.  Total bill with a drink was $32.

    Lombardi Cafe
    34210 US 19
    Palm Harbor, FL
    727-330-7594

    Lombardi Cafe on Urbanspoon

    Food2/5
    Service3/5
    Atmosphere3/5
    Value2/5
    2.5/5