Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bernini, Tampa, FL

Note:  I blogged a more recent Bernini visit in January of 2011. To see how that trip went, click here.

Bernini is one of my favorite restaurants in Tampa (and is definitely my favorite Italian restaurant in the area).  The restaurant is housed in beautifully restored old bank building in Tampa's historic Latin quarter, Ybor City.  It is named after the famous sculptor, architect and painter, Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini, of the late renaissance period (1598-1680). He is best known for being the founder of the Baroque style of art. Prints of many of his sculptures adorn the restaurant’s interior.  The interior of the restaurant is bustling, beautiful and's almost always noisy, but it's a good kind of noisy.  It's filled with the sound of friends enjoying wonderful food, wine and ambience.  This is no Carrabba's...but nor is it stuffy and full of itself.  It reminds me of actually being in Italy, or at in the very least (as my friend Karen pointed out) being in a large city like New York or Philadelphia, in a bona fide Italian ethnic district restaurant.

Not the best photo/representation, but here you go:

As it happened, $2 Finlandia martinis were being offered on the night we why wouldn't we do that?
Knowing full well how huge the portions were, we simply started with some of the wonderful bread with dipping oil, and an order of Carpaccio (Pepper Crusted, Seared Thin Beef Tenderloin with Capers, Red Onions, Shaved Parmesan, Crostini & a White Truffle Balsamic Drizzle) to share, of which about 50% had been snorted before I could even get my camera out.  I wonder who would do such a thing?  Oh...right.
Underdog can never seem to pass up the Grilled Veal Chop Topped with Proscuitto & Fontina Cheese Served over Risotto ala Florentine...and who can blame him?
I got our buddy Ed hooked on my favorite Bernini dish, which I've yet to see him veer from.  Bernini’s Signature Pistachio Nut Crusted Grouper Served with Mashed Potatoes & Broccolini with a Marsala Brown Butter Sauce (except he loves Bernini's creamy, cheesy risotto, so he always substitutes).  IMHO, there are few better grouper dishes in Tampa Bay.

Karen, who is a tiny little thing, clearly had delusions of grandeur when she ordered this monstrous slab of Veal Lasagna (Layers of Veal Bolognese, Ricotta Cheese, Sautéed Spinach, Pasta Sheets & Marinara Sauce).  I've had this one before, too...and it only falls short of being the best restaurant lasagna I've ever had because I think it could stand a little more marinara. Over half of it went home with her. 

As difficult as it was for me to pass on the Pistachio Crusted Grouper, I decided on a dish I hadn't tried at Bernini before...Cinzano de Pesce (Shrimp, Mussels, Clams, Fresh Fish Medallions & Blue Crab Sautéed in a Sweet Red Vermouth Marinara Sauce with Crushed Red Pepper Served over Linguini).  I may have a new was insane!  The fish and shellfish (which the dish was absolutely loaded with) were fresh, tender and perfectly cooked (not dried out like seafood in Italian red sauces sometimes are).  Thanks to the red pepper flakes, the marinara sauce had a spicy kick which I really loved. 

In spite of the fact that we had all gorged ourselves, we couldn't resist a little palate cleanser in the form of Bernini's Flourless Chocolate Cake (Two Layers of Belgian Chocolate Cake with a White Chocolate Ganache Topped with Cocoa Whipped Cream)...with four forks.  It was like chocolate "buttah".  :thud:
Like the swallows to Capistrano, we will return!

1 comment:

  1. These...look......amazing!!!! I AM going to this restaurant. :) My mom does tend to have delusions of grandeur...I may have to help her get rid of that lasagna next time.

    I love your blog!
    Sonata V