The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

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We were in St Pete with friends for a show at the Mahaffey Theater and ate dinner at Gratzzi Italian Grille.  Luckily, we had made reservations because they were quite busy for a Wednesday evening at 5:30pm.  They started us out with some bread and herb infused oil, then soup or salad included in the meal.

The bread was ok; the crust a little too crunchy for my taste, but the infused oil had some nice flavors.  The salad had a variety of different things in it.  Both the Pasta e Fagioli and Italian Wedding soups looked very similar to each other, just with a few different ingredients.

Our friends ordered the Chicken Parmigiana and the Pappardelle Giuliana

The chicken parm was big enough for leftovers (we’ll get to that later) and the pasta dish had scallops in a roasted red pepper sauce.  They both said the food was good, but nothing out of the ordinary.  Loren ordered the cedar planked salmon and I ordered the chicken marsala with a side of Pappardelle Alfredo.

The salmon was nicely cooked and topped with blue crab.  Loren liked it.  The chicken marsala was tender and the sauce was good, but I’ve had more flavorful at other Italian restaurants.  The alfredo pasta was tasty, but not worth what I ended up paying for it.  (we’ll get to that later).  For dessert, we got the Lemoncello cake and our friends got the gelato.

The cake was really good.  Very strong, tart lemon flavor to it. Now, for those things we were going to get to later.  We were busy talking and not really paying attention as we paid the bills and left the restaurant.  Come to find out, they charged me the full entree price for the side of alfredo pasta that I ordered.  The waitress also didn’t bring the leftovers back to the table that my friend had from her dinner.  Drinks weren’t always filled quickly enough and Loren’s pretty sure his glass of tea was refilled with diet soda.  Overall, the food was ok, but nothing that would make us feel the need to return. And the mistakes with the check and leftovers definitely would keep us from recommending to others.  Our half of the bill was $77, $10 more than it should have been.

Gratzzi Italian Grille
211 2nd Street S
St Petersburg, FL
727-623-9037

Gratzzi Italian Grille Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Food3/5
Service2/5
Atmosphere3/5
Value2/5
2.6/5

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

Click to add a blog post for Johnny's Italian on Zomato

 

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

Click to add a blog post for Johnny's Italian on Zomato

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

Italian Lunch


We went over to Zerillo’s Italian Grill for lunch today.  The restaurant was pretty empty for lunchtime.  We haven’t been here for quite a while since our last experience wasn’t that great.  We started off with some garlic rolls.

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I think these were the best part of the meal.   They were fresh out of the oven, soft and warm and very garlicy.  Good stuff.  The tomato sauce had a nice flavor to it as well.  For his lunch, Loren ordered the chicken parmesan which came with a stuffed shell and I ordered the chicken marsala which came with pasta.

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I should have reread my last blog post about this restaurant before I ordered.  The waitress asked what kind of pasta I wanted and I said fettucine alfredo and just like last time, she never indicated that there was a $4 upcharge for it.  Either tell me what kind of pasta comes with the dish or let me know it costs more for what I ask for.  Other than that, though, both dishes were pretty good.  The chicken was tender and the sauces both had a good flavor.  There was a lot of food and we both had leftovers.  At one point Loren attempted to use the salt shaker only to discover the salt was one big clump inside the shaker.  Total bill with a drink was $27.

Zerillo’s Italian Grill
11653 Countryway Blvd
Tampa, FL
813-855-5178

Zerillo's Italian Grill on Urbanspoon

Food3/5
Service2/5
Atmosphere2/5
Value2/5
2.4/5

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