Sunday, July 24, 2011

Vizcaya Restaurante and Tapas Bar, Tampa, FL

How in the hell has this place managed to fly under my radar until now??? Spanish cuisine is both UD's and my hands-down favorite, especially when there are tapas to be had on the menu. After trolling Urbanspoon for something new, I discovered Vizcaya's website and tantalizing offerings...and was fueled onward by the offer of a $25 gift cert which could be applied to any tab equaling $70 or greater (a $$ figure which UD and I seem to never have ANY trouble meeting) simply by adding myself to their email distribution list and printing it out. Done and done. We were winging our way to a pre-matinee Sunday tapas feast, coupon clenched tightly in my hot little hand, in very short order.

The restaurant is small but quite cute and comfy, situated (somewhat incongruously) in a Carrollwood mixed-use office and retail complex.

I'll get the subject of service out of the way by saying that it was quite European...very professional and helpful without being overbearing. We put in an order for a pitcher of cava sangria and three tapas right away, and were promptly served a beautiful basket of hot, crispy bread along with gorgeously presented dipping oil swirled with red pepper puree and balsamic reduction. I wish I could've done more damage to that bread, but the tapas were unexpectedly generous and rich.

First up was a charcuterie plate of razor thin slices of Spanish cured meats. Dogboy never passes on this menu item and I'm not sure Sweet Molly and Gastropup (our resident canine "foodies") could've inhaled it any faster than he did. Trust only rested before me for a millisecond before it was snatched to the other side of the table. Enjoying my fleeting moment in the sun:

The first round of tapas also included Duck Liver Pate (which is to me as charcuterie is to my better half). It was liver-riffic, just as I like it, and the berry compote accented it perfectly. Creamy, rustic goodness:

Empanadas are also a weakness of mine and Vizcaya's were fine, crispy renditions with flaky pastry that was pleasingly plump with savory picadillo filling.

We really could've stopped at this point, but had already ordered three more...unaware that the tapas at Vizcaya would be channeling the Cheesecake Factory in portion size. The bacon wrapped prawns were ridiculous (and I mean that in the best possible way)...almost the size of small lobster tails and just as sweet. The hubster and I both agreed that they were the most impressive of all the tasty treats we sampled.

When I requested the Escargot with Wild Mushrooms and Herb Butter wrapped in Phyllo Dough for $8, I was visualizing maybe six individual snails with a pastry topper. What showed up were two fat, golden envelopes virtually crammed to the bursting point with perfectly seasoned, tender gastropod and fungi morsels (which, trust me, was far more orgasmic than I just made it sound). As loathe as I was to leave any of it uneaten, it was either that or unbutton my pants (which I was just a tiny bit too proud to do)...or perhaps skip dessert (which was too ridiculous an idea to even entertain).

We still had Pulpo a la Gallega coming, and wished we didn't at this point in the tapas overload. This octopus was as tender as any I've ever eaten, subtly spiced with paprika and olive oil, and served atop a bed of potato slices. We were so full by this time that we couldn't do the octopus justice...such a sad day. *sniff* In our quest to hit the $70 number we grossly over-ordered and our tapas snack turned into something more along the lines of a Last Meal on the Planet.

A ruptured stomach has never stopped either of us from ordering dessert and we held true to form today. The Orange Blossom Pie sounded refreshing and SO did not disappoint. Think Key Lime Pie, but made with orange juice instead of lime...and served with a side of Crema Catalana (sort of an orange-infused creme brulee-type custard). As disgustingly stuffed as we were, we could not bear to leave more than crumbs was That. Freaking. Good.

Final word: Vizcaya is a Tampa Bay hidden gem. Quality is off the chart, the tapas portions are seriously hefty for supposed "small plates" and the pricing is almost shockingly reasonable. Register on their website for the $25 discount if you need added incentive to give them a whirl. One of the best meals we've had in Tampa this year...I can't wait to go back.

Vizcaya Restaurante & Tapas Bar on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. I love this place ! Their food is off the chain! Creative and fresh from scratch cooking !