The Dog House's endlessly edible bill of eats accumulates a satisfying variety of burgers, dogs, sammies, fish, and fried chicken. Settle disagreeable hunger grievances with the justice of comfort foods such as the pulled-pork sammie ($7), then follow its order to pick up a hefty portion of fried pickles ($6) and deep-fried onion straws ($6). The St. Bernard chicken rescues hungry taste buddies with a fine cut of grilled chicken blanketed in cheese, bacon, and mushrooms ($9), and the half rack of St. Louis–fashioned Rottweiler Ribs ($11) fills diners with a satisfaction paralleled only by watching a Meg Ryan romantic comedy. Guests can also quell burger cravings with one of six options, including The Great Dane, a mammoth patty piled with blue cheese, bacon, and mushrooms ($8), or choose to ebb the rising tide of seafood desires with the hand-battered Fish and Collie Chips ($10).
Weighing in at almost a pound per slice, Mario's Pizzeria Trattoria's philly-cheesesteak stuffed pizza teems with meat and three cheeses. This is just one of the menu's specialty pizzas, which also include the pizza with nine vegetables and four cheeses and the Chicago Classico, made with sausage and fresh basil. The pizza dough is made fresh daily, as is the tomato sauce that douses pasta dishes.
Diners enjoy their pizzas, pastas, subs, and salads inside or out on the patio tables. They can even cruise through Mario's drive-thru window in Largo if they need a meal to go or a quick olive-oil top-off to keep car engines running smoothly.
Max & Sam's Bar & Grill carries on a classic neighborhood-chophouse tradition with hand-cut steaks and seafood served within dark-wood-paneled walls built in 1924 and brushed against by the likes of Al Capone, Marilyn Monroe, and Joe DiMaggio. Under the gaze of jazz-age crooners swirled onto framed canvases, soaking up aromatic inspiration for their next musical meditation on cheese grits, the five-course meal kicks off its culinary set list with parmesan-crusted beef tips or calamari. Bowls of the chef's french-onion or soup du jour, depending on whether jour is in season, set the scene for a simple house salad of mixed greens and veggies.
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.
Winner of two gold metals and five silver medals at the Indy International Wine Competition, the Florida Winery prepares its Vino Florida wine on-location and often infuses it with tropical fruits, including raspberries, strawberries, kiwis, and melons. Vino Florida's blends and traditional wines are sure to please both vino novices and difficult-to-impress wine connoisseurs alike. A bottle of the Vino Florida ORWI, a species of flavorful fermented Florida orange juice, arrives stuffed with enough fruit to stave off scurvy in malnourished sailors' monkeys ($14.99). Free wine tastings are offered at The Florida Winery store, so you can meet the winemakers and hone in a bottle that best complements your taste buds. The shop also concocts ice cream made from its own wine and stocks a diverse supply of gourmet foods sourced from the Sunshine State, including coconut candies, spices, salsas, and more.
Though most vintners have made their wines from grapes, the Shook family turned their focus to other fruits. Starting in 1991, they began fermenting batches of juice from mangoes, red raspberries, limes, and oranges. In 1997, they opened their 14,000 square foot winery shaded by three large oak trees ?where licensed winemakers and distributors ferment and bottle 42 varieties of exotic wines stamped with the Sunshine Tree, the Florida Department of Citrus's mark of quality. Their eclectic selection encompasses citrus, tropical-fruit, berry, stone-fruit, and vegetable wines, each made entirely from the juice indicated on the label. The winery also makes and distributes wine-smoothie mixes and wine pouches, sherries, ports, and champagnes.