Loren took me out to my favorite little Italian restaurant tonight for our anniversary. I don’t know why we don’t go to La Trattoria more often, I really do love the food. If you’ve never been, it’s quite the experience. There’s no menu and the owner is this jovial Italian man who just makes you feel like you’ve walked into his home for dinner. He’ll be wandering around the restaurant singing and it’s just a hoot. There’s nothing fancy about this place, but the food is excellent. We started off with some bread, little pizza pieces, and salad.
The little pizza pieces are almost identical in flavor to what my Italian grandmother used to make. The dipping oil for the bread has huge chunks of garlic in it and the salad is just lightly dressed with oil & vinegar. First off, you get shown the appetizers of the day. Tonight there were artichokes, stuffed mushrooms, and stuffed eggplant. Loren went for a mushroom and I tried the eggplant.
Both were tasty. I liked the tomato sauce on mine. Once you’re done with the appetizers, the owner wheels out the cart o’ seafood and meats and tells you all the different ways he can prepare it for you. I have a favorite dish here, the pasta with crab in a pink amaretto sauce. I just can’t make myself order anything else. You can get chicken, pork, veal, steaks, fish, pasta, ravioli and who knows what else in a variety of preparations. Loren ordered the grouper in a piccata sauce with artichokes and sundried tomatoes.
He said it was very tasty. My pasta with crab was just divine.
There are huge chunks of crab in this dish. Loren says the sauce tastes like dessert because it’s so sweet. I just love it. And even though we were both stuffed, I couldn’t resist some ricotta cheesecake.
If you’ve never had ricotta cheesecake, it’s more cakelike in texture and not as creamy as a NY cheesecake. It’s somewhat dense with a little lemon flavor to it. Overall, it was an excellent meal. Total bill with a drink was $60.
2152 Main St
We were over in Clearwater tonight and ended up at Greektown Grille for dinner. It’s been a while since we’ve been here, but luckily we got here early and it wasn’t too crowded. They started us off with very yummy bread.
This was one of those addictive breads. We had to move the basket away or we weren’t going to eat any of our dinner. Soft and thick and just yummy. We ordered the crab and spinach dip appetizer.
Though neither of us could actually identify any crab in the dip, it was still very good. There weren’t really enough pita chips to finish the dip, but I don’t think there was any way we were going to finish it anyway. Loren ordered the seafood platter.
It came with calamari, flounder and shrimp along with some rice and horta. We had no idea what horta was and it turns out it was boiled greens similar to spinach. The rice was a little on the spicy side and the fish was covered in a lobster cream sauce. I ordered the seafood pasta which had the same lobster cream sauce on it.
My dinner also came with a small Greek salad. The seafood pasta had both shrimp and scallops, but there really weren’t a lot of scallops in it. Some little pieces and maybe one full sized scallop. There was something about the lobster cream sauce that I didn’t really like. I can’t put my finger on what the flavor was, but it just wasn’t vibrant enough. I know that’s a vague description, but there are sauces that sing to me and this one was just flat. Total bill with a drink was $50.
1230 Cleveland St
Woodstock on 5th recently opened up in the space where Crepeology used to be in Safety Harbor. It’s a really small building and I’m amazed at the quality of food they were able to put out of that tiny kitchen. There aren’t a lot of tables, but there is a patio out back and they had live music tonight. The whole restaurant and staff are decked out in a 60’s music theme and the menu items are all named after musicians and bands of the era. We started off with some of the white chili.
When it came to the table, we both thought it looked like a bowl of cheese queso dip. And to be honest, it would have gone great with some tortilla chips. It was very thick, creamy, and cheesy. It had a nice flavor to it, just a hint of heat and overall very tasty. For his entree, Loren ordered the “Grateful Dead”.
It was two tri tip grilled steaks with potatoes and green beans. The steak was cooked a perfect medium, seasoned wonderfully, and was very tender. I ate some of it because it was actually too much food. Drop the price a little and just serve one steak and it still would have been enough for an entree. I ordered the “Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young”.
It was a pappardelle pasta with wild mushrooms. One bite and I was hooked. The cream sauce was amazing. The only thing I really didn’t like were the wild mushrooms. Some of them were really tough and chewy. The pasta was cooked perfectly and I licked every last bite of that sauce off the plate. We also decided to try the desserts. We got the citrus cake and a strawberry mousse tart.
They don’t make the desserts in house, but instead get them from a local bakery. Loren really liked the citrus cake. It was moist and had a wonderful orange flavor. I found the crust on the tart to be a little hard, but the strawberry mousse filling was tasty.
Overall, the food was amazing; however, other aspects of the experience weren’t as great. It did take a while to get our food, but, it was definitely fresh and homemade. They have a very young and inexperienced wait staff. They were very sweet and pleasant with bubbly personalities, but seemed a bit over their head when it came to actually keeping up with their tables. The other thing we found annoying was that the door to the patio is in the small dining room, so there was a constant opening & closing of the door as people went in & out.
They post their weekly menu specials on their website and also serve breakfast & lunch. We’ll probably go back again as the food really was delicious. Total bill with a drink was $61.
Woodstock on 5th
155 5th Ave N
Safety Harbor, FL
We’d already eaten at two new places for us this weekend, so I decided to try for a third. We ate dinner at La Bella Eva over in Clearwater. It’s a small Italian pizza place in strip mall on Belcher. It was nice and toasty inside which was perfect on this rather chilly evening. We decided to try the potato soup.
My first bite was very flavorful, but cold. We had to send it back to the kitchen to get heated up. After that, though, things went much better. The soup was really good. Thick & rich with a wonderful flavor. Loren kept trying to slide it closer to his side of the table. The bread was crusty on the outside and soft on the inside. You know it’s good when Loren reaches for more before I get a chance to. We also got some calamari.
The calamari was a little chewy and needed some salt, but otherwise pretty good. You can get a medium or spicy sauce to go with it and we chose the medium. It wasn’t really spicy, but definitely had some red pepper in it. At this point, we both realized we had already ordered too much food, and then the entrees came. Loren got the linguine with meatballs.
He liked it. It was a rich sauce. I though it tasted like there was wine in it that hadn’t been fully cooked off. I got the eggplant rollatini.
It was like lava when it came to the table. The eggplant was cooked very well. It still had some texture to it and the cheese and sauce were tasty. Too many places overcook the eggplant to mush, but this was a really good dish. We both had leftovers and decided to split a Manhattan truffle for dessert.
Vanilla and chocolate ice cream covering a cherry & almond center and completely enrobed in dark chocolate. It was delicious. They had several different varieties of these truffles and I think we may have to go back just to try some of the other ones. Total bill with a drink was $38.
La Bella Eva
1469 S. Belcher Rd
This is the third time we’ve eaten at Bascetti’s in Dunedin and after tonight, I’m not sure that we’ll be returning anytime soon. The restaurant does some things very well, but is severely lacking in others. My biggest complaint tonight was the service. For the most part, it was just non-existent. We ordered an appetizer and I assumed the waitress would bring out bread while we waited for it. No such luck. We just sat there for quite a long time waiting on the sausage and crab cake appetizer to arrive.
All the photos are pretty bad because it was so dark at our table. This dish was pretty tasty. Lots of crab and just a hint of sausage flavor. I probably wouldn’t have guessed that there was sausage in it because it was very mild. The sauce with it was sort of a tangy salad dressing. Once we had completely finished the appetizer, we sat and waited some more until our waitress brought out the bread.
The dipping sauce is usually the best part of the bread here, however, tonight, it was ice cold. It must have come straight out of the fridge and was not at all what I was expecting when I took my first bite. It was very disappointing and I would have asked the waitress to heat it up if we had seen her again before we had finished eating the bread. Once we were done with it, she brought out my chicken soup and Loren’s salad.
They really need to get smaller bowls or put more soup in them. The presentation of the soup just immediately made you think they were being skimpy with it. It had a nice flavor, but I found the chicken pieces to be overcooked and sort of dry/grainy tasting. Loren didn’t mind it as much as I did. Usually, I complain that restaurants are too quick to bring out the next course, but that was definitely not an issue here tonight. Service was painfully slow. At one point, our waitress said she was going to refill drinks and she didn’t return for at least 15 minutes. Eventually our entrees came out. Loren ordered the chicken piccata.
He really enjoyed this dish. The sauce was light and tasty, the pasta cooked well and the chicken was tender. He was all mmm, mmm, mmm, while I was less than enthused by my Vodka Princess pasta dish.
This had overcooked rubbery shrimp and minuscule pieces of crab meat in it. I had to really search to actually find any pieces of crab. The sauce just wasn’t anything special and in my mind, the dish wasn’t worth $18. It wasn’t smooth and creamy enough for me. When the waitress came by and asked how it was, I was less than complimentary about the dish and she went back and told the kitchen. They offered a free dessert so we tried the chocolate fig torte.
This was really tasty. I probably wouldn’t have guessed that there was fig in it, though every so often you did get some seeds. It was chocolatety without being overwhelmingly rich. For me, this was the best part of the meal. I just felt like we spent way too much time sitting around waiting tonight. Like I said, they do some things very well, but consistency and attention to the small details just seems lacking. There’s just no reason we should have been in there for over 2 hours. Total bill with a drink was $49.
1568 Main Street