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Apr 15, 2011 02:17 PM

need Tampa advice for best food

We will be in Tampa on business from NYC for 3 nights and after looking at many of your posts are trying to decide which to choose. We will be staying at the Hyatt - not the one with Armani's and will have some access to a car but don't want to drive too far..

We like places that use high quality locally sourced ingredients creatively and preferably some local flavor (FLORIDA not Asian or French) Good food is the key - doesn't have to be formal service.

Here are the places that I've gleaned from the posts. Please give your advice.


Armanis (We have great Italian in NY so is this really top notch?)
Middle Grounds on Treasure Island - is it far?
Ocean Prime
The Refinery ?
Bailey's on Davis Islands
Pane Rustica (We have great Italian in NY so is this really top notch?)
Walt's Seasonal Cuisine
Sideberns (sounds like more of a scene than for food)
Guppys on the beach

Ocean Prime
7339 W Sand Lake Rd # 400, Orlando, FL

Walt's Seasonal Cuisine
1140 Main St, Dunedin, FL 34698

2208 W Morrison Ave, Tampa, FL 33606

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    1. I travel to NYC just for food a few times a year, so the first thing I recommend is that you don't come here expecting NYC. There is however some excellent food in Tampa, and you've listed a few winners.

      Armanis (We have great Italian in NY so is this really top notch?) It's top notch food, service, and view (make sure to go just before sunset), but not better than torrisi or del posto or something along those lines. Get veal if you go.

      Oystercatchers - I feel this is the best seafood in the immediate vicinity, and also by far the best brunch buffet in the vicinity, possibly in the bay area.

      Middle Grounds on Treasure Island - is it far? - Yes.

      Starfish - Never been.

      Ocean Prime - Skip it.

      The Refinery ? - creative and reasonably priced small plates, cool atmosphere.

      Bailey's on Davis Islands - cool southern food, huge portions, pretty courtyard area.

      Pane Rustica (We have great Italian in NY so is this really top notch?) - Again, take NYC out of the equation. Also this is not Italian food per say, more contemporary American that's rustic Italian inspired.

      Walt's Seasonal Cuisine - No idea.

      Sideberns (sounds like more of a scene than for food) - It is a bit of a scene but I think this is one of the best restaurants in Tampa, especially if price isn't a concern. Go around 6pm, no wait, much less of a "scene" and amazing bar bites/happy hour specials. Some of the best mixed drinks in Tampa, rivaled only by the nearby Ciro's Speakeasy (you might also want to check that place out too). Sideberns' food is very unique and creative with fresh and interesting ingredients, and beautiful presentation.

      Guppys on the beach - people will argue with me, but skip it. also quite far.

      1. Sideberns- very good food scene. It is a pretty restaurant and there are beautiful people there but it is not pretentious. I think you would have a nice experience.
        Sounds like you are in the downtown Hyatt so I don't think I would take a special trip to Armanis. But it is only about 15 mins from downtown.
        If you want some Tampa flavor go to the Columbia one night. You could get something as simple as the 1905 salad, cuban sandwich or one of their soups and leave very satisfied.

        2208 W Morrison Ave, Tampa, FL 33606

        1. I lived in New York for many years and travel there on occasion for work. The food scene is very different and should not be used as a baseline when dining in Tampa. That said, the food finds here are wonderful and should be appreciated for what they offer. Your list included many favorites. I agree with the others to skip Armani's - it is not true Italian and over priced. I've recommended Osteria Natalia a few times but don't think too many have tried it so wait on other reviews if you prefer. I especially enjoy their tasting menu (Tues - Thurs). Food is prepared simply with fresh ingredients. The restaurant is a small neighborhood type eatery with a friendly intimate atmosphere. Clientele tends to be mostly mature professionals. I agree with the comments on Sidebern's. Its is worth a trip. Bern's Steakhouse is also good for a dining experience especially if fantastic wines are high on your list. They have their own farm so you can't top their access to locally grown ingredients. They pride themselves on prime meats and seafood. No one tops their dessert room. For chains, I personally like Ocean Prime, especially their lounge. Good drinks and lounge menu, although pricey. Same with Roy's. Both use fresh ingredients and prepare their foods very well.
          Malio's is near where you are staying. It is owned by a local family that have been in the restaurant business for many years in Tampa. For a NY connection, it is also a local favorite of the NY Yankees and the Steinbrenner family. I enjoy their FOS, appetizers & steaks. They also carry a good selection of wines. In fact I love going there for dinner and making the short drive over to Bern's for dessert.

          Referring back to Italian foods, Donatello Italian restaurant is a high end restaurant however I've never dined there so maybe someone can comment on their dining experiences. Good luck on your choices and happy dining :)

          Ocean Prime
          7339 W Sand Lake Rd # 400, Orlando, FL

          400 North Ashley Drive, Tampa, FL 33602

          2208 W Morrison Ave, Tampa, FL 33606

          4 Replies
          1. re: Birdcage_Chef

            Donatello is very good but I am betting not any better than Osteria Natalia and probably much higher priced. I haven't been to ON but have heard nothing but good things about it.
            Donatello is very old school Tampa. You feel like you are stepping back in time. Live music in the lounge, the owner or mgr greeting at the door, a flower for all of the ladies, etc... Very good discreet service where they seem to anticipate your needs without being intrusive. I went there once with a very picky friend and the waiter asked her, what she would like them to make for her, and they made it. That was pretty impressive.

            1. re: Birdcage_Chef

              i love the Osteria. it feels special every time i dine there.

              1. re: Birdcage_Chef

                x3 for Osteria. Good spot, probably the best Italian in the area, but lacks the grandeur of the other places you mentioned. Really I like Armani's for the view & service first and the food second, it's good food just expensive as heck. I doubt there's a much prettier place to be at sunset than out of on their patio next to the waterfall with a glass of wine (14 floors up right on the water too)

                1. re: askdrtodd

                  Starfish although right on a commercial fishing dock, and has great simple fresh off the boat fish; it is way south of Tampa in the village of Cortez which is on the mainland side of Anna Marie Island, about 60 miles South of Tampa.

              2. Thanks for the advice....

                Sounds like I need to include Side Berns

                If I need to leave one out - WHICH?
                SIDE BERNS
                OSTERIA NATALINA

                5 Replies
                1. re: nyperr

                  Were you planning on brunch at Oyster Catchers? That is where they really shine. If I had to choose between OC and Armani's for dinner I would go to Armani's. The view is wonderful and I like their food. They do veal and duck well. I would make a sunset reservation.

                  1. re: rhnault

                    x2 on what rhnault said. Oystercatchers is good for lunch and spectacular for brunch. if you are going only for food and value, go to Osteria. If you want the full experience, and $ isn't an issue, go to Armani's and make sure to catch the sunset. I wouldn't miss Sideberns personally.

                    Regardless of where you go, give us a report! I'd love to hear an NYC foodie's experience.

                    2208 W Morrison Ave, Tampa, FL 33606

                    1. re: rhnault

                      Thanks! Unfortunately, we're only able to get out for dinners as we're tied up with business all day.

                      So, I'm guessing I should drop Oystercatchers if we're going to the view the same?

                      Is there another GREAT fish restaurant where we can get the local flavor of Florida? More casual is OK as long as the food is really good.

                      1. re: nyperr

                        If you are up for a bit of a drive (35 minutes), there is no better seafood restaurant in the area than Middle Grounds Grill on Treasure Island. Amazing preparations of super fresh local fish.

                        Middle Grounds Grill
                        10925 Gulf Blvd, Treasure Island, FL 33706

                        1. re: nyperr

                          I like Middle Grounds as well. It would also be a shame to come all the way down from New York and not see the beach!
                          Armani's is at the top of the Grand Hyatt and Oyster Catchers is a free standing building down around and away from the main hotel. It is on the Bay by the Casitas. Also, nice and a nice view but Armani's at sunset is better.