During World War I, Greek immigrant Louis Pappas served in the Army as a personal chef to General John Pershing. To give the hungry general some extra nutrition, Louis began adding scoops of potato salad to his traditional greek salads. When Louis returned to the United States, he opened up his own restaurant, Louis Pappas Riverside Café, where he would re-create this signature dish using fresh produce from his own ranch in Tarpon Springs.
Today, Louis Pappas's grandson continues his grandfather's old Florida family tradition at Pappas Ranch. There, he and his kitchen serve up a new menu of fresh seafood, poultry, sandwiches, street tacos, hand-cut steaks, and barbecue dishes whose "family flair" has been lauded by Metromix Tampa Bay. They continue to scoop savory housemade potato salad into their internationally renowned Louis Pappas Famous greek salad, tossing it in massive bowls that serve as many as four diners. Bartenders dole out glasses of locally brewed craft beers and wine or mix cocktails and martinis at the full center bar with flat-screen TVs.
The restaurant's decor channels that of the original Pappas family ranch. In the dining room, spacious booths are surrounded by rustic wooden walls, and outside is a covered outdoor patio.
Lonzalos Pizzeria & Ristorante borrowed the name of the one-time foreman of the Starkey Ranch, Lonzalo “Lonnie” Cannon, whose work ethic and Italian origins inspired the eatery’s culture. The man himself still resides in north Florida at the ripe old age of 95, not too far away to visit owner Scott Cochrane’s homage to his life.
The pizzeria serves regular, deep-dish, and stuffed pies, but also delves extensively into traditional Italian cookery, combining choice pieces of meat and seafood with rich sauces and pasta. The rich scent of cheese and wine wafts through the dining room, though visitors can opt instead to enjoy the fresh air, sunshine, and potential UFO sightings of alfresco dining on the outdoor patio. The indoor space transforms into a late-night comedy venue on the second Saturday of each month at 10 p.m., hosting a rotating cast of funny-bone ticklers.
Wining and dining yourself is easy at Clearwater, whose eclectic menu will mollify even the grumpiest of your taste buds. Begin a romantic dinner for yourself and your cute hitchhiker with a starter of brandied shrimp ($9), hummus and grilled pita bread ($7), or a salsa trio with tortilla chips ($6). Ask your server to whip out the award-winning wine list and double-team your main course with a glass of Borsao ($7) and a chipotle chicken quesadilla ($9); a pairing of pizza margherita ($9) and Vicolo pinot grigio ($7); or, in celebration of the day you saw your first squid, a glass of Marcel Martin Tetê de Cuvée Brut Cremant ($10) and a specialty cinnamon-apple and brie quesadilla ($10). Stop in during the daily happy hour from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and say goodbye to the sad and perplexed hours with two-for-one house wine, or drop by on the second and fourth Friday of every month for a free wine tasting and live music.
The patient chefs at Pit Boss Bar-B-Q have slow-cooked succulent ribs and barbecue fare over an oak-wood fire for over a quarter century, earning the 1994 small business of the year award from the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce. The menu proffers starters such as colossal onion rings, which chivalrous chefs bravely hand-dip in beer batter before deep-frying and delivering to diners from armored horse ($4.99). Mounds of succulent pork smothered in Pit Boss’ signature barbecue sauce nestle into the pork sandwich ($5.99), and a full pound of pork ribs can be ordered with an entourage of texas toast and two sides ($9.99; $8.49 for a smaller portion). To slake thirst, adults bob for fruit bits in a pitcher ($9.99) or frosted mug ($3.79) of Pit Boss’ homemade sangria, and kids take turns hunting for ghosts of vegetables within the Scooby Doo burger ($4.99).
San’s delectable menu bursts with a medley of homemade thin crust pizzas, piping pastas, and hearty sandwiches crafted with fresh ingredients. Dinner DJs hand-hurl each pie sky-high upon your order, slathering it in scratch-made sauce, a rich blend of cheeses, and tantalizing toppings including house-made meatballs, artichokes, eggplant, and feta ($1.95+ / slice, $7.50+ / pie). Silence trilling tummies with specialty pizzas, such as the rail-thin Cara’s Crispino sprinkled with tomato, basil, garlic, and balsamic ($2.50 / slice, $18.95 / 16’’x16’’), or the Balls of Fire pizza, a pizza topped with cheese and pizza sauce combined with a special hot sauce, meatballs, jalapeno and crushed red peppers ($18.95 / 18" large). Homemade manicotti ($10.95) and lasagna ($10.75 for cheese, $11.75 for beef) soak in flavorsome lochs of house marinara, and a bevy of hot and cold sandwiches ably sate bun enthusiasts ($5–$8.75).