Unlike applying for a job, auditioning for a play, or winning over in-laws, becoming a member of the Lobosco clan is as easy as eating pie. Pizza pie, that is. "One bite and you'll be family!" is the restaurant's fun-loving motto, one that the kitchen crew reinforces by crafting homestyle pasta dinners, hot hero sandwiches on fresh-baked bread, and classic Italian entrees such as eggplant parmigiana. Pizzas are stretched thin in the New York fashion, then topped with ingredients ranging from classic sausage, pepperoni, and olives to less common shrimp, crab, and white sauce.
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.
Voted Best Specialty Pizza in Dunedin in a House of Beers citywide contest in 2010, Bayshore Pizza’s success comes courtesy of co-owner Erik Johanson’s passion for quality ingredients. That and his mom’s secret sauce recipe, of course. Making good on a lifelong dream to run his own restaurant, Johanson oversees the family-owned-and-operated pizzeria, where chefs hand-toss fresh, daily prepared dough before transforming it into thin-crust and pan pizzas, folding it into ricotta-stuffed calzones, and rolling into hearty strombolis. Pizzas are available whole, or by the slice, where toppings range from the classic––pepperoni, sausage, green pepper––to the creative––clams, garlic, parmesan, and bacon––and a choice of five sauces waits to grace Bayshore’s chicken wings, which also won top prize in 2011, but never brag about it.
At Pronto Pizza, chefs whip up Chicago-style, New York-style, and thin Italian-style crusts on their signature pies. Customized pizzas can be enhanced by more than 15 toppings, from pepperoni and sausage to eggplant and banana peppers. Pizzas range from the Hawaiian pizza, with ham, pineapple, and mozzarella, to “Carlos Pie,” with grilled chicken and pesto. The menu is also rife with classic Italian dishes, such as veal piccata, chicken Palermo, and shrimp fra diavolo, paired several wines and beers.
Cesare Tini grew up in Rimini, Italy, where his family of restaurateurs slowly conditioned his brain with their culinary secrets. When he departed for America, he packed a stack of his clan's perfected recipes, which he eventually parlayed into a hearty menu for his eatery in Clearwater Beach.
Cesare's at the Beach's house-made pastas include fettuccine, lasagna, and crabmeat-stuffed ravioli, which arrive at tables draped in sauces such as creamy b?chamel, white wine, and marinara. Veal, chicken, beef tenderloin, and sea scallops also fight for the spotlight, making the dinner menu a suitable metaphor for junior-prom court. A lengthy wine selection washes down savory bites before handcrafted tiramisu, cr?me br?l?e, and cannoli brush tongues with Italian sweetness. All of these menu items helped Cesare's at the Beach receive TripAdvisor's "Certificate of Excellence" in 2012?2014.
Chefs whip up house-made pasta, sizzle ocean-fresh salmon fillets, and pair red cherry tomatoes with imported buffalo mozzarella to populate a menu of traditional Italian cuisine. After the chefs apply the final garnishes to entrees, servers shuttle the piping-hot dishes to diners seated at round tables draped in white linens. On Wednesday–Saturday evenings, live music fills the dining room, bouncing off exposed brick walls and jingling off the chandeliers to tickle the ears of patrons as they sip red and white wines from the full bar. Outdoors, an expansive courtyard hosts sunlit and moonlit dining enclosed by brick columns and lush palm trees that occasionally lean over patrons' shoulders to steal a bite when they're not looking.