Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Florida >
Oct 4, 2008 08:56 PM

Best Sarasota Pizza... Dometrio's, El Greco, Valentino's or...?

These three names have come up in recent posts as "Pizza that will blow you away!" One major compalint when I lived in the area 28 years ago was the lack of decent pizza. Certainly then, there were none that you would consider outstanding. What do current locals think? We're visiting for a week soon. Thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Dometrio's on 41 South -- or -- El Greco.... Both very close and both excellent.
    I never heard of Valentino's.

    4 Replies
    1. re: irwin

      I've had pizza at the world famous Lombardi's in New York. Vanetinos is as good or better. They also have a fabulous menu of traditional Italian dishes, not Italian-American over-sauced dreck. Valentinos is at 4045 Clark in a little shopping strip just west of the railroad tracks. Best Italian in the area, IMHO as a chef.

      1. re: KiltedCook

        I'll have to check it out....
        Thank you

        1. re: thepizzacriticsrq

          Probably the best Pizza in Sarasota is:
          Il Panifico on Main St and also in Gulf Gate.....
          Really truly the best, great selection, fast service, eat-in or take-out, and they have been doing it for a very long time.....

          1. re: irwin

            Il Panificio both locations+1....+1....

            Il Panificio
            1703 Main St, Sarasota, FL 34236

      2. I just recently had a pie from Shaner's, on Clark somewhere between MacIntosh and Beneva (near the Harbor Freight store). Remarkable thin, crispy crust.

        1. Shaners is standard midwest thin crust, Demetrios and El Greco are both decent greasy, garlicky greek pies, but the best pizza in Sarasota is without a doubt Panificio on Main Street. Order by the slice -- the extra blast in the oven the slices get is the best way to eat the super-thin semolina crust.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Bries

            I second that Panifico is definitely THE BEST......I live in south Sarasota so I often go to Pontillios on Superior in Gulf in this area

          2. Having grown up on Pizza Hut pizza, I am not the best judge. However, my boyfriend who grew up in Hyannis, went to college in Boston and lived in NYC for several years has consistently complained about the lack of "decent" pizza in Sarasota. He agrees about Il Panificio on Main Street downtown, Definately the place to get a slice on the go. For more casual sit down fare, check out the individual pizzas at Caragiulos downtown on Palm Ave. Their crust is the perfect combo of crunchy and chewy. Great for two to share with a glass of wine or beer on the way to a movie. Out on Siesta Key, Siesta Smeag's has a really great reputation with the locals. Do yourself a favor though and stay far, far away from anything Solorazano Brothers. Even if they do make decent pizza, these guys are rude ugly people and have been known to verbally and at least once physically assault customers including spitting in someones face. Not nice people, and not worth spending your money on when there are so many other places to try.

            15 Replies
            1. re: ellimac13

              Wow!! How do they stay in business? I have never been there, and certainly have no intention of ever going, after your comment. He sounds like the owner of Zaks Steak house!! A very ugly man!!

              1. re: Mother of four

                Say, you seem to know about the restaurants in town. We live in Charleston, SC and are coming to Sarasota to visit my son. My husband used to work for the company that started Fred's on Osprey. It looks like Fred's closed and also that the one in Lakewood Ranch was bought by Tommy Klauber. Do you know if either of those restaurants are open again and if so what are the names? Do you know the phone numbers?

                1. re: goodwordtoday

                  Libby's opened in the old Freds. We went there a few weeks after it opened, and they had a few kinks to work out, but overall it was very good, and we will go back. The menu is nice, because you have many choices, both price wise and quantity size. Phone number is 941-487-7300 Polo (not exact name, maybe Polo Club) opened up in the one at Lakewood ranch, but I have not been there so can't tell you anything about it. I also really like Mattisons 41 which is a lot like Libby's, but a bit larger and they have nice music, a great bar, and the food is very much the same. I also like Deja Vu, which is in Gulf Gate. Very small and chef owned, with good food. Phone 941-926-2994.
                  I hope this helps, just let me know if you need anymore information!

                  1. re: Mother of four

                    Mother of four---you are right on........
                    Libby's (formally Fred's) is very good, but need to work on a few kinks.
                    Have not been to Mattisons 41, but just love DejaVu, as well as:
                    Euphenia Haye for duck
                    Bijou for rack of lamb
                    Demetrio's for pizza
                    Beach Bistro -everything is excellent
                    Cafe E"urope for potato crusted Grouper and Dover Sole
                    Tommy Bahama's for Ribs
                    Hyde Park for a good steak
                    Flemings for a wonderful double Pork Chop
                    Simon's for lunch
                    El Greco for the best gyro and greek salad
                    Cork for a great Hamburger
                    Yoders for really great food like your grandmother's and the deserts are the best
                    Hickory Hollow for the pulled pork
                    Citrus for the lunch salads
                    Divino for the best italian in Sarasota
                    I could go on and on, but I listed the best Sarasota has to offer.

                    1. re: irwin

                      I keep forgetting about The Cork. We went there last year and had a wonderful meal. Just haven't been back. We went upstairs, but I guess the downstairs is a bit more casual! Although Sarasota is pretty casual everywhere! Maybe because it's a trip for us that we haven't been back, as, we are on the south side of Sarasota!

                      1. re: irwin

                        Best restaurant in Sarasota...Cafe Bijou...hands down. Their a class of it's own.

                        1. re: oldvines

                          Bijou Café has changed their executive chef. Whether or not anyone believes it WAS the best restaurant in Sarasota -- and I sure don't -- it's a new restaurant now.

                          1. re: Longboat

                            I sure agree with you concerning the Bijou Café. We have not been there since the changing of Chefs, but in my opinion they defiantly needed a change. The prices were high and the food very old, if you know what I mean. Nothing innovative about it. We also went there with six other people, I had told them that we had two birthdays when I made the reservation, but when they presented us with dessert menus I whispererd to the server that we had two birthdays. Her reply was "all they will do is put a candle on a dessert if you order one". It did not leave a very good impression on any of us! I don't think that any of us have been back since.

                            1. re: Mother of four

                              I haven’t been to the “new” Bijou Café yet, either. The chef is from Canvas Café and he’s considered to be innovative. When he took the job at Bijou, he announced that the cuisine would change to some extent while the “classics” would be kept on the menu. Previously, I got caught in the mystique of going to Bijou prior to the opera across the street. That said, a few months back I got tickets too late for a Bijou reservation and so booked instead at Selva Grill. When you think about it, Selva is much better and it’s only a 2 minute walk. Also, Bijou is jammed opera nights while Selva gets a later crowed and is fairly empty at 5:30 – 6:00 PM.

                              1. re: Longboat

                                Love the Selva Grill.. I remember when it was a little hole in the wall in a strip mall at Clark and Swift! Their food is wonderful! . Canvas Cafe had it's ups and downs. The first time we went we had a fantastic meal, could hardly wait to return. Unfortunately the return was no where near the first meal. Sort of lost interest after that.

                  2. re: Mother of four

                    Mother of four:
                    ate at Duvals Friday night. Ceci was out with a bad back. They now offer early birds from 4:30 to 6:00 so when we arrived at 7:30 the place started to empty out. When the early birds all left, only two tables were occupied including ours. Food was just OK.... Service was good, but the waitress talked way too much. They only had 3-varities of fish left, so that was very limited. I had the chicken and it was good. Wife had a fish that was tasteless, and so did the other couple. Calamari was excellent as well as the salads. Little surprised that on Friday evening 8pm -- it was empty.
                    (Owner) Wes said they need to do some advertising. I hope they can bring it back as I love the food, but the atmosphere in this new place is just OK..

                    1. re: irwin

                      Sorry to hear that. We had a very good experience and so did the friends we went with, who have returned at least two times. Maybe they should do away with the early birds!!
                      I feel this time of the year the restaurants are fairly empty due to holiday parties and such. They have done no advertising so I'm surprised that anyone is there.
                      Had a horrendous experience at Bijou Cafe Thur. night. They are definitly living on their reputation! Went with my golf group of eight woman. Their food was OK, mine was horrible, Veal Scallopini that was like shoe leather, but the worst was when the person that was clearing the table decided to throw the uneaten roll that was on a bread plate to the middle of the table to land in the bread basket, then the next throw was the container that held the butter! Totally unreal. From a restaurant that has entrees from $28 upward. Plus the only starch offered on any of the entrees was mashed potatoes... honestly that was it. My bill for horrible was $64! Never again.

                      1. re: Mother of four

                        Mother of four:
                        Wow-poor help can ruin the experience. I thought Bijou got a new chef that I heard was great. My wife does not like that restaurant because it needs a rehab. I heard great remarks about a new italian restaurant on 41 south across Mattisons 41 called "Puccini"s.
                        Need to give it a try....
                        Stay in touch, Irwin

                        7275 S Tamiami Trl, Sarasota, FL 34231

                        1. re: irwin

                          I totally agree with your wife.
                          Went to Puccini's in May, before we went back north. It was OK, best part was you could bring your own wine and no corkage fees, haven't returned since we have been back. Must get back to Lans, as we had a wonderful meal there, also Derick's.
                          Really wishing for a good Chinese restaurant, but I guess that's not going to happen.
                          We really should meet! Carole

                          1. re: Mother of four

                            just heard about a chinese restaurant on Cortez down by Cody's. Will chek it out and report back to you. We also love Lans.

                2. Not a fan of Panificio....prefer a tastier/zestier sauce and find their's too bland. Fillipo's at University and Lockwood Ridge is good if you like a thinner crust. Honeycrust Pizza on 17th Street not bad if you like a very thick layer of cheese.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: hibeta

                    My only experience with Panificio pizza on Main: burnt. I've been going to Napoli's in Siesta Key Village for almost twenty years. Demetrios is a good place too.