Papa John's has carefully crafted a menu of specialty pizzas to satisfy any taste or mouth shape. Order a Hawaiian BBQ Chicken, or go all-out and get The Works, a top-heavy combination of pepperoni, ham, spicy Italian sausage, fresh-sliced onions, green peppers, gourmet baby portabella mushrooms, and ripe black olives. Satisfy herbivores and herbivoyeurs with a Tuscan Six-Cheese or Garden Fresh pie. The full list of specialty pizzas includes several more; take the hassle out of haggling over individual ingredients and boldly cast your straight-ticket ballot for the pizza party that your conscious dictates.
At O'Maddy's Bar & Grille, chef Wade Parrish takes ownership for more than the menu; as the man who built O'Maddy's, Wade takes credit for the waterfront view. When construction wrapped up more than 20 years ago, Wade tossed his tools into the Boca Ciega Bay and became a full-time executive chef, cooking starters such as gator bites with Guinness breading ($7.95) and clams with cilantro pesto and toast ($8.95) for soaking up juices or dabbing away drool slicks. From the entrees, Gulf of Mexico red grouper ($15.95) arrives grilled, blackened, or fried, and a 6-ounce grilled Maddy's filet partners with fontina cheese, fresh basil, and a Marsala demi-glace ($17.95). The drink menu promises refreshment with a multitude of wines, beers, and cocktails. An aromatic and fruity glass of Oyster Bay sauvignon blanc ($6) plays well with ocean fruits, and a Gulfport Guava Breeze tropical cocktail gently whistles down gullets. Decorating the restaurant's walls, a beach mural serves as the backdrop for nightly karaoke. When the microphone comes out at 9:30 p.m., guests can belt out a classic or croon "Just the Two of Us" to the last remaining clam.
With its plates of homemade pasta, sautéed marinated chicken, and seafood dishes lit by streaks of neon and sided with martinis, Primi - under new ownership - evokes the image of both a homey Italian restaurant and a swanky nightclub. That's because executive chef Tony Macaroni spent years not only mastering the cuisine of his native Italy, but also working in the kitchens of high-class hotels cooking for celebrities such as Evander Holyfield, Scott L. Schwartz, and Bob Newhart. Together with sous-chef and baking specialist Kenneth Kopcsik, Chef Macaroni whips up elegantly plated dishes such as a thin-sliced tenderloin carpaccio, wild-mushroom ravioli in sage butter reduction, and a slowly braised lamb shank served with broccoli and homemade croquette. An extravagant selection of wines from the Americas and Europe complement the flavors of mussels in garlic butter while four-course chef's table events allow guests to experience the luxury of having their own personal chef.
Gigi's Italian Restaurant is a family-owned eatery that has been injecting diners with the recommended dose of pizza, pasta, and parmigiana since 1967. Initiate meal time with appetizers such as the calamari, lightly fried to crispy resistance ($8), or Gigi's bruschetta, a toasty platform topped with fresh tomatoes, zesty snips of red onion, and dewed by balsamic vinegar and olive oil ($7). The specialty brick oven pizzas tempt taste seekers with the minimalist pizza margherita ($14.17 for a medum) and Gigi's special, an ensemble of pepperoni, mushrooms, onion, sausage, and green pepper peacefully playing culinary bocce ball within the boundaries of a thin-crusted circumference ($21.94 for a medium). Gigi's dinner menu represents the full gamut of authentic Italian favorites, including creamy pasta carbonara ($12), chicken piccata sautéed in a lemony garlic sauce ($15), and eggplant a la parmigiana, where slices of thick, breaded and fried eggplant are crowned with Gigi's sauce and accompanied by a hearty portion of pasta ($14). Pair plates with beer and wine, or a libation from the full liquor bar at the South Pasadena and St. Petersburg locations.
Voted Best Central Avenue Dining in 2009 by Tampa Bay Magazine, JoJo's in Cittá Restaurant dishes up a palate-pleasing menu of piping-hot pizzas and savory pastas. Launch your edible expedition with a glass of Coppola shiraz, with hints of plum and raspberry ($6.50); and a plate of shrimp scampi Milaro, cooked with white wine, fresh garlic, and olive oil, crowned with bread crumbs, and baked to a golden brown ($7.95). Molar-pleasing entrees include the St. Pete Beach pizza ($11.95)—blanketed in pesto sauce and topped with pillows of chicken, roasted peppers, and artichokes—and the penne alla vodka ($13.95), where inebriated pasta challenges ham to a garlic-fueled game of Trivial Pursuit in a creamy tomato sauce. Munch indoors or nibble a cannoli ($4.95) al fresco in the Italian eatery's outdoor dining area.
The brick walls of Jane Aberro's pizzeria are covered with autographed photos of celebrities such as Robert De Niro and Samuel L. Jackson, each scrawled with lines of encouragement for the restaurant Aberro opened in her hometown of St. Petersburg. After working in show business in Los Angeles, Aberro decided to return home and open a pizzeria with partners, eventually taking the helm herself.
Inside, the manager gathers orders from customers, joking with a light Texas drawl while carefully monitoring the pizza, sandwiches, and soups. Behind the counter, cooks knead dough made from scratch, pour on house-made sauces, chopped herbs, and custom toppings, then fire pies in the oven until the crusts become golden and crisp. Aberro believes that what sets her pizza apart is the quality of her hand-selected ingredients, especially when it comes to her favorite component, cheese. She said the calzones are one of her favorite dishes because of the amount of cheese in each bite, noting, "even if you are used to eating cheese out of a can, you can taste the difference that the fresh cheese makes."
Aberro's attention to detail led to her personally designing the store's logo, hanging up the eatery's photograph of the Brooklyn Bridge, and following up with her customers. Open until 3 a.m., the pizzeria transforms from a cozy lunch spot into a well-oiled machine, rapidly producing slices for the late-night customers who line up around the block after leaving a nearby concert venue.