After moving from Greece in 1950, the six Fotopoulos brothers turned their hard-won earnings into the first of 12 ABC Pizza locations in 1966. From its humble beginnings in Connecticut, the chain grew to serve central Floridians and vacationing time travelers a menu of build-your-own pizzas topped with gourmet ingredients such as crab, feta, and shrimp, as well as preconceptualized specialty pies festooned with meats, seafood, and Mediterranean morsels. Hearty grinders and Italian pasta dishes share menu real estate with Greek delicacies including gyros, spinach pies, and grape leaves stuffed with shredded pages of Plato's Republic.
For Las Vegas Cafe owner Francies Vega, cooking is about putting smiles on people's faces. So when she designed her menu, she didn't stick to just one cuisine, but instead incorporated all the dishes that make her happy. The result is a fusion of Cuban and Italian recipes such as chorizo spaghetti, vegetable breakfast crepes, and Cuban-style fried rice sprinkled with ham, peppers, and eggs. Vega's signature dish is the chancellor fish fillet stuffed with ham and cheese and fried until it's as crisp as the first day of autumn.
Chefs at La Casa Della Pasta embellish pastas, gnocchi, and desserts made in-house with handfuls of imported Italian ingredients, including eggplant and mozzarella. As owner Enrique Tangari told the Tampa Bay Times in 2011, "I import everything, flour, water, tomatoes, cheeses … to make any kind of pasta dish you want, on the menu or not." His commitment to imported flavor also extends to the restaurant's drink menu, which features wines made from such traditional Italian varietals as pinot grigio, sangiovese, and nebbiolo, as well as beers with suspiciously small amounts of fermented grape juice.
Like any great Italian meal, made-from-scratch dishes at Spaghetti Warehouse are created from family recipes passed down for generations. Using fresh ingredients ranging from ricotta, romano, and mozzarella cheeses to house-made tomato sauce and Italian sausage, chefs labor for up to three days to prepare batches of their 15-layer signature lasagna from scratch. The menu also offers perfectly al dente pasta, bottomless soups, and 12-layer chocolate cakes to share with family and friends.
It?s that feeling of togetherness that people love about Spaghetti Warehouse, a feeling that is only enhanced when the drinks start flowing and the air is punctuated by the sounds of laughter as kids play retro games, such as The Claw prize-grabbing machine. To reach their table, guests commonly have to step through two doors: the front door of the restaurant and the door of the antique trolley parked inside. Since its inception in 1972, the Italian eatery has merged the functions of kitchen and museum. Artifacts such as grandfather clocks, factory flywheels, and circus billboards surround diners as they delve into Italian creations.
A series of sensual portraits by Tamara de Lempicka graces the walls of 717 South’s dining room. The flashy art-deco aesthetic extends to the whole dining room, where burnt orange and blue walls glow in contrast to angular black stripes. 717 South’s plates of upscale fusion fare are no less elegantly appointed: chefs - including recent Tampa Best Chef Competition's "Chef of the Year" winner Robert Masson - drizzle fresh seafood, aged Hereford steaks, and farm-fresh chicken with sauces, herbs, and salsas inspired by Asian, American, and Italian flavors. In addition to the dining room, guests can perch on the outdoor patio, which is secluded enough for sharing romantic dinners or tenderly whispering nutrition facts.
Far away from the honking cabs and aggressive balloon-hawking mimes of downtown, That's Amore Restaurant sits hidden amidst the lofty palm trees and sunny walkways of Harbour Island. Water taxis en route to the restaurant cruise across the Garrison Channel, drawing ever closer to the sight of the lush front patio and the aroma of sizzling garlic.
The source of the fragrance can be found within the restaurant's kitchen, where chefs are hard at work folding fresh seafood, chicken, and veal into the southern Italian dishes lauded by reporters from Creative Loafing as hearty and soul satisfying. Servers carry these dishes out into the bright dining room, where vibrant murals of rustic Italian cityscapes sweep across the wall and lofty windows reveal spectacular views of the downtown skyline. The restaurant plays host to live entertainment nightly, including piano and vocal performances and improvisational haikus from internationally renowned entertainers.