Friday, January 14, 2011

Bernini, Tampa, FL

Is it poor form to blog the same restaurant twice?  I don't care...I'm doing it anyway.

Bernini in Ybor is that place that UD and I seem to find ourselves going back to time and again.  The ambience is great, food and service are always well above average...and they keep running this deal where entrees are 1/2 price and Finlandia martinis (and other vodka drinks) are $2 between 4:00 and 7:00 PM on weekdays.  Since I had the day off, the spousal unit cut out early so we could go see The Green Hornet *yawn* at the Ybor Muvico in the afternoon and then meander over to Bernini to check out their new menu at the early evening discount prices.  We got the most amazing service and recs from Gary...we will be asking for him when we return (as we most certainly will).

First off, the bread basket was a sight for sore eyes after 10 days (post new year's resolution) on the Atkins diet.  They have replaced the dipping oil with herb-infused butter, which was nice...but I do miss the olive oil. 

Step away from my bread basket and no one will get hurt.

Jimbo was also in heaven, his little accountant heart bursting with joy as he sipped his $2 vodka and tonics and calculated his 1/2 price entree savings.  Bread in one hand, "almost-free" cocktail in the other = doggyboy nirvana.  Kerching!

We tried one of the new appetizer items...Langostino Del Diavolo, which was described as "Crispy Langostinos in Crystal Marinara with White Wine and Crostini".  Epic fail...we both hated it. The sauce was way too spicy for the delicate, tiny lobster tails.  Gary asked for our feedback because this was a new item and we provided our honest opinon of the dish (and let him remove it, largely untouched).

APRIL UPDATE:  I returned to Bernini for lunch yesterday and had the opportunity to try the revamped version of this dish, which features the crispy langostinos with the marinara on the side along with two other alternative aioli-style dipping sauces, and my galpal and I hoovered down every morsel...I'm thrilled to report that this app has gone from "meh" to "marvy" IMHO. 

Jonesing for duck because I haven't had it in about six months, I went for the Crispy Duck with Dried Cherry and Vanilla Chianti Sauce with Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes and Broccolini.  Ummm...this was sensational.  I had the duck once before here and haven't ordered it again because I found it a little dry on that occasion, but this duck was perfect...crispy on the outside, moist on the inside...and that sauce. Wowza!

Underdog never turns away from a veal chop offering and he has loved many basic Bernini veal chops in the past.  The new veal chop menu item is a Grilled Veal Chop Stuffed with Prosciutto and Fontina Cheese (and, honestly, I'm not sure you couldn't stuff a cow paddy with prosciutto and fontina and make it delicious) which was stellar!  It also came with awesome polenta fries (which are my new "tame the hormonal inner beast" meds) that you don't find much around these parts.  So good!

Of course I had no interest in dessert, but went along with the spousal unit because he seemed to want it so desperately.*CoughheisthereasonIcan'tshoehornmyassintoasize8Cough*  We locked horns over his desire for the Bernini Sampler, which was a combo of Flourless Chocolate Cake, Tiramisu and Creme Brulee, and my longing to try the new kid on the block...Aunt Cookie's Cassata Cake (pound cake layered with ricotta cream, whipped cream, chocolate chips and cherries).  Neither of us care that much for tiramisu, so our amazing server (did I mention that his name was Gary and that he was amazing???) offered to modify the sampler for us, substituting the Cassata Cake for the tiramisu.  OMG...I was all over this plate like Tiger Woods on an IHOP waitress.

So many desserts, so little time!  Life's short...why wasn't this my appetizer???
That Cassata Cake is in the top 5 desserts I've ever had in Hillsborough County...think Italian-Cream-Cake-meets-Chocolate-Covered-Cherry.  I'm pretty sure I heard angels singing. 

You can have the Cassata Cake...just keep your fork out of my Creme Brulee!

I <3 you Bernini...see you again soon!

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My blog entries contain the unmitigated, and sometimes unforgiving, dining truths and perceptions I experience as an ordinary restaurant patron. Every meal I post about has been fully paid for by one of the participating members of my personal dining party. I do not engage in the gratis blogger freebie dining events I'm constantly invited to attend and never will. If I ooze font-like love for a restaurant in my blog, it's because they totally earned it…not because they gave me free food or knew I was going to share the experience on the internet.

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