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Looking for a good non-chain place North Tampa/New Tampa Lutz

Can anyone recommend a good place between Tampa Palms and Cheval? I'm looking for a place with a reasonably nice atmosphere in the moderate to higher end price range. Any recommendations out there?

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  1. Thai Ruby is good. off BB Downs. Otherwise, I don't get up that way much.

    1. Beneditto's is very good off of 52 and 41 (in the Wal-mart plaza). Right outside Cheval (off Dale Mabry/Van Dyke) is Splash, continuously rated as one of the best seafood restaurants in Tampa.

      1. I'd go with Benedetto's - it's one of my favorites in the Tampa area. The Italian favorites (ziti, lasagna, etc) there are decent, but they really shine with their appetizers and their chef's specialties.


        I've only been to Splash! once, but I was pretty unimpressed. Boring menu of "fresh fish" and the usual tired potato and veggie side items. The bar area looked cool, but the meal definitely wasn't good enough to warrant an almost $100 price tag for dinner for two.



        1. I didn't think Benedetto's warranted a second visit. It's standard American cuisine with an 'Italian' label. Nothing distinctive or exciting there. Sushi Alive on N. Dale Mabry was pretty good- very modern decor. Thai Basil on Northdale Blvd. had good food and I would describe it as 'upscale' Thai. Bella Gente is a decent Italian place next to Sushi Alive with food that comes much closer to authentic Italian than Benedetto's.

          1 Reply
          1. re: rikkikm

            The question asked for a good non-chain place in North Tampa, but didn't mention anything about "authentic Italian. Not sure what you ordered at Benedetto's, but my several visits there have been phenomenal. Again, the Italian favorites are just OK, but they have surprisingly fresh seafood and some great chef's specials. I can understand if you didn't enjoy it and wouldn't return, but it is only fair that you tell why.


          2. Gus' Cafe in Carrollwood is kind of dumpy but the food is great. Benedettos is an average Italian joint. Gino's in Tampa has good food, decent atmospher and not too pricey. Donatello is the best if you want to spend a few bucks.

            1. Not that it's on the mod to high end, but if you want good food, try the new place called Mariposa. It's near Cheval on Dale Mabry and Van Dyke. I tried the wahoo fish tacos and they were tasty!! You might want to try it for lunch since I think you're looking for a different feel based on your post. It's very casual. The chef used to be the executive chef at our local Roys. http://www.mariposamexicangrille.com/

              Another place a little south of Tampa Palms is Don Jose - I love their sangria.

              And one more place just south of Cheval, closer to Carrolwood is Micheal's Grill

              Cafe Don Jose
              12350 N 56th St, Tampa, FL 33617

              1 Reply
              1. re: dmfnole

                I 2nd your recs for Don Jose and Mariposa. Have been to Don Jose many times in both the old and new location. The duck is very good, as is the chicken and yellow rice. Although I haven't had it in a while, the ostrich is pretty good too. It's a lot like beef if you've never had it before. I've only been to Mariposa once, but I had the sopes and they were great. They also have lots of great fresh juices there.

              2. Any new feedback on Mariposa, Cafe Cibo or the Asian place that are in that strip center?

                1. We went to Benedettos fairly recently. The food was ok, just ok; the real problem was that the entertainer was so loud that everyone in the restraurant had to shout if they wanted to converse.

                  IMHO not much point in going back.

                  1. There is a new place called "Mangroves" opening up in that area. It is in the Northdale Shopping Center in what appears to have formerly been a night club, I am guessing, based on the physical configuration. (I peeked in the window.) The menu on the wall outside looked interesting, especially the appetizers. Some of them were unusual. Appetizers were in the $9-13 price range, with entrees in the $27-$35 area. I assume it a branch of the Mangroves in Hyde Park on Howard Avenue.

                    I went there a few times on Howard Avenue about five years ago and it seemed pretty good, but alas, my usual companion is averse to high end dining--hence, no return trip. Chowhounds, is this the same outfit? If so, would anyone recommend it to "Tcgdodgen," and me or should we stay away?

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: gfr1111

                      I believe once upon a time that location was Sonny's BBQ before they built a free-standing restaurant around the corner.

                      1. re: rikkikm

                        According to their website, it (Mangroves) is the same place. It seems pretty pricey for the Northdale area. Can anyone tell us if it is worth it?

                    2. I have to agree wholeheartedly with those who dumped Benedetto's. We ate there once; my Veal Marsala was sooooo sour (and I like sour things!) I could taste neither the veal nor the marsala wine. It was loaded with lemon juice. It was just plain awful! Too much 'show' and hardly any skill.



                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Sambarkudiyan

                        The problem with Benedetto's is that they go for QUANTITY instead of QUALITY. If the chef's specials are better than the normal menu, that tells me that they need to work on making the food on the menu better.
                        It seems as though they are not doing as well as they used to be. For the record, there should not be lemon juice in Veal Marsala.

                        Good Eats

                        1. re: horvath42

                          Villagio's Italian Restaurant on Hwy 41 in Lutz. This is true Italian cuisine, run by a family from Torino. It may not look like much on the outside, but their wine selection is great...the dishes truly fresh. Harp music on certain nights. They will even store your wine here. Benedettos COPIED Villagios. This is the real deal.

                          1. re: Queen Bee Cheese

                            Well Queen bee....Copied villagio?, well if you consider, lasanga, manicotti, spagettti , and other pasta dishes, that would mean every italian restauaraunt in tampa copied Villagios. What a nieve and arrogont remark. Did vita bella copy villagios too???? the owners are ex-employees of villagios, right? I was at vilagios for 1.5 years, 1 year with Bosko(the previous Owners) and 4 months with Guisppe. I must ne some type of genius, to copy villagios in the 4 months I was actually cooking. The first year I was there I washed dishes!!
                            We have a piano bar, full liquor, live lobster, ahia tuna, Cowboy steak, filets, new yorks, and many other items that villagio chooses not to offer, becuase they are so limited in thier kitchen. villagios is a quiant little restauraunt , if you like a quite atmosphere, harp music, paper tablecloths, and one of a kind service (lol) Unlike some places, all of our food is made to order, no pre -satuee chicken or veal, no pre-breading of chicken parms or beef parms(there version of vealparm) no pre-sauteing mushrooms, no romano already grated, no buying mozzerella already grated. We do everything by hand. We are a freestandnig building, not in a plaza, we have live piano bar music every night of the week.(but i must of copied armanis or donetello). When you make comments, please think them through, becasue it makes you look like a a??

                          2. re: horvath42

                            Well its 20011 now and Benedetto's turned ten years old Sepetember 6t. Things are going great, my health has improved and I am cancer free now. I am in the restauraunt basically 24/7. There should never be lemon juice in marsla, and I dont think there was, must of been referring to another dish. We are busy as ever, back on waits on the weekends and even waits during the week. We have been busy like this since late late 09' Give as another shot, you will not be dissappointed, but be sure to make reservations, you will need them

                        2. Old thread, but I had a great meal (with 3 other people that would completely agree) at BluFIGS on N Dale Mabry

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: askdrtodd

                            I thought the food was great there when I went, but do they still blast the music really loudly when not too many people were there? I found it to be quite distracting.

                            1. re: queencru

                              hm. It was busy when I went so that didn't catch my attention. I bet if you asked, they'd cut it down a notch, the service was great when I went too, quite accommodating as I recall.