Culinary masterminds at La Nostra Pasta craft classic Italian dishes and homemade desserts that sate appetites in an informal, welcoming ambiance. Foursomes debate whether tomatoes are fruits, vegetables, or alien spy technologies over an order of caprese salad, which buddies tomatoes up with buffalo mozzarella and basil leaves ($7.99). Pasta-seekers can sink forks into the three fromaggio penne with fontina, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese doused in cognac and tomato cream sauce ($10.95), and guests can traverse land and sea with the mare e terra, a 12-ounce grilled rib-eye steak accompanied by spicy shrimp skewers, mascarpone mashed potatoes, and merlot and tarragon butter ($18.95). Pastas and entrees waltz to tables with soup or salad, and they also dance well with a homemade dessert such as cannoli, a cylindrical pastry that makes a mean jazz flute when not occupied by citrusy ricotta cheese, chocolate chips, and pistachios ($4.25). Soft sconce lighting illuminates menus, and flower arrangements add hints of color at each wooden table.
You'll never find a packet of dry spaghetti noodles, nor a bag of frozen ravioli, in the kitchen at Giuseppe's Ristorante. That's because the restaurant's Italian-born chef, Eduardo, insists on making every piece of pasta from scratch. He rolls out thin layers of eggy dough to make fresh ravioli, butterfly-shaped farfalle, and long, flat fettuccine noodles perfect for sopping up sauce or lassoing morsels from your date's dinner plate.
After Eduardo has cut and shaped these pastas, he serves them up with proteins such as calamari, salmon, or tender veal, and sauces such as marsala or creamy b?chamel. Just-baked pizzas, salads, and a selection of gluten-free pasta dishes round out the menu. Servers prepare coffee drinks, pour wine, and serve beer?including Italian imports such as Moretti La Rossa. For dessert, try the made-from-scratch zeppole pastry or the affogato, which pairs rich espresso with creamy ice cream.
Former pro baseball player Shane William Rawley helms Shaner's Restaurant, where an arm that pitched 12 seasons in the major leagues now hoists menus of Italian and American food. The menu features burgers and sandwiches such as italian sausage and roast beef, alongside thin-crust pizzas such as the five-cheese white pizza and the supreme, boasting a medley of meat and vegetables. Sports games play on 14 high-definition televisions throughout the dining room, which also makes way for dancing powered by the tunes of a live DJ on Friday and Saturday nights.
Gillian's Pizzadelli caters to various cravings by serving hand-tossed New York-style pizzas and hot and cold deli sandwiches. Whether sitting outdoors or indoors at a brightly painted table, guests can dig into light wraps stuffed with veggies, hot sandwiches bubbling with melted cheese, or hand-tossed pizzas slathered in housemade sauce and piled high with toppings such as sweet capicola ham and bacon.
Free WiFi allows guests to browse the Internet while awaiting regular or gluten-free eats. Menus are available in multiple languages, making the restaurant a favorite among international travelers.
With its cheery red awnings, cool marble tabletops, and bustling coffee bar, Caf? Americano wouldn't be out of place on the narrow side streets of Europe's great capitals. Instead, it brings that same sense of continental sophistication to the artsy avenues of Sarasota's historic Five Points neighborhood. Here, diners pass the breakfast, lunch, and dinner hours with Mediterranean cuisine ranging from prosciutto and gorgonzola omelets to classic steak frites and grilled whole sea bass. As they dine, servers slip past them to a cellar brimming with 300 wines, sourced from renowned growing regions around the globe.
Some restaurant owners prefer to stay behind the scenes. Achille and Massimo Nigri are not those people. At Cafe Amici, each guest is greeted “like a long-lost friend,” according to one happy customer. The homey eatery not only makes diners feel welcome, but also sates appetites with authentic Italian eats such as homemade lasagna, gnocchi with crabmeat, and wild mushroom ravioli. One whole wall inside the sun-soaked dining room is covered with framed accolades from local media outlets and taste buds with the ability to type.