The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

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Poor Service

We hadn’t been back to Dominic’s Italian Grille in a while because our last visit left something to be desired.  Unfortunately, tonight’s experience wasn’t much better.   The restaurant was pretty crowded and we ended up at a table right in the middle of the room.  Loren’s dinner came with a salad & we started off with some Arancini.



The menu said the rice balls were stuffed with crab, but neither of us could find any.  They were very dense and really needed some seasoning.  Loren ordered one of the specials tonight, the braised short ribs.


It tasted like pot roast.  He liked it, but the green beans were inedible.  I ordered the chicken marsala.


The chicken was overcooked and not tender enough for me.  The sauce was ok, but didn’t really pop.  Again, I think it was a lack of seasoning.  I like the pasta souffle that came with it.  Service was rough all the way around.  Our waitress disappeared for a while, someone took Loren’s drink and we weren’t sure if they were going to bring it back, we had another lady clear some plates, only to stack them in an unstable pile with one ending up in pieces on the floor.  Total bill with a drink was $35.

Dominic’s Italian Grille
3163 Curlew Road
Oldsmar, FL

Dominic's Italian Grille on Urbanspoon

  • Filed under: Clearwater, Italian
  • Pastamore

    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


    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


    We decided to try Umberto’s of Long Island in Dunedin for dinner tonight.  It looked like a cozy little Italian restaurant.  We sat in the back, which was rather dark, so the photos are a bit washed out.  We started off with some salad.

    If you’re only going to have one salad dressing, it should at least taste like more than oil & vinegar.  Mine actually tasted like just vinegar.   We tried the calamari.

    The texture and crunch were there, but it was completely underseasoned.  A little salt & pepper went a long way to improve this dish.  The sauce was ok, but didn’t taste like a long simmering sauce by any means.

    Loren tried the Chicken Maximo for his entree.

    There was a definite lack of fresh ingredients in this dish.  Both the asparagus & mushrooms were out of a can and absolutely tasted like it.  The entire dish was also underseasoned.  I went for the chicken marsala with penne pasta.

    Mine suffered the same lack of seasoning and there really wasn’t a lot of marsala sauce on the dish.  The chicken was very plain and the lack of an actual steak knife made cutting it more difficult.  I’m also not a big fan of canned mushrooms.

    As for the service, our waitress was very nice, but unlike the other waitress in the dining area, she didn’t offer us bread or ask if we wanted dessert.   For what we got, the meals were overpriced.  Total bill with an undrinkable iced tea was $45.

    Do you ever watch “Restaurant Impossible”?  All during our meal, I could hear Robert Irvine in my head talking about how fresh ingredients and a bit of seasoning would really help the food.

    Umberto’s of Long Island
    150 Patricia Ave
    Dunedin, FL

    Umberto's of Long Island on Urbanspoon

  • Filed under: Dunedin, Italian
  • Panos Kouzina has changed owners and they’ve renamed it Bella Kouzina.  It looks the same inside and the menus haven’t been changed yet, but there was definitely a difference in the food.

    We both decided on the clam chowder to go with our entrees.

    The chowder was pretty good.  Not quite as creamy as other places, but it had a good flavor to it.  The bread was tasty.  I seem to remember it being a lot more garlicy here before though.  For his entree, Loren got the Pork Medallions.

    He said the pork were very tender and tasty.  The dish was served with rice, but he sort of wished it was served with a vegetable as well to round out the meal.  I ordered the chicken marsala with a side of fettucine alfredo.

    My plate was very plain looking.  The marsala sauce was very thin and looked like chicken stock, though it absolutely tasted like marsala.  It had a nice sweet flavor, though I’d just never seem a marsala dish that looked that color before.  (Here’s a photo of the last time I ordered it)  The chicken was ok, though, very plain.  It didn’t even have any sort of breading on it whatsoever.   They also hit on a pet peeve of mine by not giving us steak knives to cut our food.  I’m sorry, but butter knives just don’t cut it, literally.

    Surprisingly, Loren liked the taste of the fettucine alfredo more than I did.  There was just something off about it.  I don’t know if it was the type of cheese in it or if they added some additional herbs.  All I know is that it just didn’t do it for me.

    Unfortunately, our waitress ignored our table quite a bit.  We were done eating long before she ever stopped by again.  And once she brought us boxes for our leftovers, she disappeared again.  The owner ended up clearing the dishes off our table.  We didn’t even get asked if we wanted dessert.  Total bill was $30 with a drink.

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

    Panos Kouzina on Urbanspoon