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Oct 20, 2009 10:20 PM

Tampa Bay neighborhood Italian restaurants

i'm interested in knowing about small, neighborhood-ish, hole-in-the-wall type of italian restaurants in the tampa bay area.......we've dined at most of the familiar italian restaurants in tampa and the few in pinellas county......but i'm not talking about well-known fancy places or even more modest spots - we've dined at virtually all of those kinds......we're originally from new jersey, and small italian restaurants were plentiful - noted for very good home cooking with a variety of "touches"......i've got to believe that some of these types of places exist in our own backyard, but we just have not found them.......any "finds" that you know about would be welcome......

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  1. vino e pasta on gandy or spartaco (which now has a different name) on south macdill are both pretty decent. There's also a little spot on Kennedy near dale mabry with torches that are lit at night that's OK. Ooh also Cafe Paradiso on South MacDill and the spot in the same plaza, I forget the name, it's also italian and great for a really modest looking little spot.

    5 Replies
    1. re: askdrtodd

      we have dined at those places - all good restaurants.......
      but i'm looking for a hole-in the-wall spot that serves good, basic italian dishes - whether lasagne or veal piccata - that brings back memories.......again, i don't know if these kinds of restaurants exist anymore, but i thought i would ask......

      1. re: ruready

        try casa ludovico in palm harbor for a nice dinner. Early bird specials until 7 pm. I am from New york and love them. Also try Positano's in Palm Harbor. Casa Ludovico is better but I go to both regularly and love them.

        1. re: ruready

          Joesph's Little Italy in Pinellas. I think it's almost in Dunedin. Good food and has the neighborhood family run vibe.

        2. re: askdrtodd

          In my neighborhood there is Cafe Paradiso, Vino E Pasta, Luigis, Cellini's - ll in South Tampa.
          Laughing Cat in Ybor remains my favorite Italian place.

          1. re: rshally

            Are you speaking of the new Luigi's on Gandy? If so, how is it? I just saw it the other day and posted about it and no one has said whether or not they've tried it yet, thanks!
            I just ate at Laughing Cat last night, tasty! Good selection of dishes, good wine, good atmosphere, I had bowtie pasta w roasted red peppers and crab meat w a cream sauce. The crab cake app is a fave!

            Laughing Cat
            1811 N 15th St, Tampa, FL 33605

        3. i like Umberto's of Long Island...they're on Patricia in Dunedin. I used to go Umberto's ON Long Island.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Manderley

            I second the vote for Umbertos. I don't think I've had better lasagna than theirs. and the brothers who own and run it are great guys--a real hoot. This is definitely our "go to" down-home Italian fave in Pinellas County.

            1. re: laurie


              i'm addicted to their baked clams and fried calamari

          2. when i lived in forest hills (Tampa), i relied on Gino's for great, huge portions of red sauce Italians and good draft beer.

            4 Replies
            1. re: andy huse

              we have been there a couple of times in the last 6 months and it is still good. definitely has the neighborhood privately held Italian feel. They also own the wine shop next door which is nice because you can go pick your wine then go have dinner.

              1. re: andy huse

                Oh man, I'm happy / not happy to find out about Gino's!
                I absolutely can't wait to get there....
                Seems from my quick Googlin' action that they do a great Eggplant Parm----

                Maybe Friday lunch...

                1. re: Mild Bill

                  I think it's your kind of place. Nice and family run. I think Joseph's in Dunedin has better food but Gino's is in Tampa ;-)

                  1. re: Mild Bill

                    the burgers are very good and not expensive. i always liked the chicken or veal parm, chicken piccata with fettuccini alfredo, spaghetti and meatballs, the eggplant appetizer is good. i always upgraded to the oversized caesar salad. i remember the mussel app being good, too. other pastas are good, too. i was there a few months, matbe a year ago and thought the gnocci were frozen. in any case, they were a bit dense.

                2. have you tried Da Sesto Italiano Restaurant? 7199 66th St, Pinellas Park, (727) 209-2695
                  I've been a couple of times, very good very traditional italian. and a very nice 'family' feel. The web site is a little corny - but i wouldn't hold that against them! :)

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: luvscannoli

                    I agree about the website but don't that stop you. Been there many times and like it a lot. One of my favorites is the pasta with Mama Angela sauce. Both the calamari and the mussel apps are good also.

                  2. I REALLY enjoyed my lunch today at Marchello's Pizza at Van Dyke & Dale Mabry in Lutz...

                    As I did in my past two visits, I just got two 'big' slices of Pepperoni Pizza with extra cheese, but I thought it was spectacular...

                    The crust was toasty and crusty, I tasted real Mozzarella, and the Pepperoni with its rendered oil flavored it perfectly...
                    I shook on a lil' red flakes, oregano, grated parm, and I was in pizza heaven...

                    I almost went with a Calzone but I'm taking it easy for a while...

                    Next time I might try their Lasagna or Spaghetti & Meatballs and see how they do, but I think Lutz has a damn good pizza jernt------ right next to 'The Vine' in that Home Goods shopping Center...

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Mild Bill

                      .....a "pizza jernt"??? Bill, are you from Brooklyn??? :)

                      1. re: Manderley

                        Nah, Philadelphia & South Jersey...
                        I was just toying with the language...