Black-and-white portraits of Sophia Loren stare down at diners as sunlight bounces off the mirrors lining one wall of Gio's Italian Restaurant. After inspecting wine bottles lined up against the wall or arm-wrestling a date to determine who gets the tallest chair, guests can dig into sautéed fish or chicken, fresh salads, or Italian classics such as penne alla vodka.
Nestled in baskets and swaddled in checkerboard paper, many of Twinz Big City Hotdogs' beefy creations transport tongues to faraway cities. Its bun dappled with poppy seeds, the Chicago dog channels Windy City tradition with toppings of tomatoes, pickles, relish, peppers, onions, and celery salt. Both the New Yorker and Coney dog come with spicy-brown mustard and sauerkraut. Other offerings on the à la Carte menu—including burgers and wings—keep things closer to home. The signature bacon-burger dog combines two beef patties, strips, and choice of cheese into a towering mélange, surrounded by lettuce, tomato, onion, and topped with chipotle mayonnaise.
Carne asada, hot off the grill, occupies one quarter of the plate; another quarter is loaded with zesty mojo shrimp sauteed in chile and garlic, and the remainder is piled high with rice and beans. This is just one of the hefty and tasty combination plates on the menu at Casa Ramos Tampa, part of a chain of family owned restaurants that stretch from the west coast to Florida. The restaurant creates an authentic Mexican ambience thanks to real Saltillo clay tiles that adorn the walls and bar, where staff members mix fresh watermelon with Patron tequila for tasty margaritas that pair well with spicy dishes.
The Manhattan Dolce Bar & Bistro’s tapas-style dishes range from rosemary-lamb lollipops and meatballs in marinara to tuna tartar and uptown crab cakes. Servers pour out lush red and crisp white wines, or deliver cocktails that include fruit-laden mixes and a Manhattan with Gentleman Jack. Patrons can let their ears absorb live entertainment on most evenings, or let their faces absorb liquor-infused desserts thrown by angry acquaintances. Happy hour takes place from 5–7 p.m. and 11 p.m.–1 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday.