Saturday, April 20, 2013

Tony and Nello's, St. Petersburg, FL

I'll preface this report by stating that, with a 95% "like" rating on Urbanspoon plus a glowing rec from a former coworker of UD's, we went into Tony and Nello's projecting our anticipatory delusions of grandeur upon them.  We also went in both suffering from a nasty case of walking pneumonia...hacking, coughing and phlegming  (not to be confused with "Fleming's", being a good thing, at least as far a chain restos go; as opposed to"phlegming" being a universally and uncategorically bad thing) with our mutual level of malaise ratcheted to an almost craptacular level. Nothing like a little garlic to open up the old nasal passages, though....right?   Plus, we both needed an excuse to get dressed and get out of the house for a few hours.

I'm sad to report that I wish I'd stayed in the recliner and popped open a can of Campbell's Tomato Soup.  This entire meal was a study in mediocrity.  Our server, while he plodded along dutifully, had all the enthusiasm and concern of a garden snail.  Ambience is strip-mall cheesy, but not in a totally off-putting way.    We saw similar resto designs in southern Italy when we visited six month ago.

Underdog surveys his surroundings:

Our bottle of chilled Prosecco got us off on a positive note.  We could almost be back in Sorrento......

But then the food started coming out.  Eggplant Rollatini with Prosciutto had potential. Generously portioned and tasty enough, it was presented at room temp.  NO.

Clams with Marinara Sauce appeared shortly thereafter.  They were fine.  "Is there bread for sopping?", we queried?  "Sure...we have a loaf in the oven for you", our server assured us.

Shortly after we were done with the apps, a decent basket of barely warm slabs of Ciabatta were presented along with foil-wrapped butter pats.  Impeccable timing, Sir.

We ultimately decided to share Tony and Nello's "Feast" for two, which was comprised of fried veal, chicken and eggplant, all smothered in marinara sauce (which was a respectable one, I might add) and salad for $26.95.  Said salad was not particularly exciting...and not being one to waste precious stomach space on iceberg lettuce, I demurred.  UD gave it a couple of rabbit nibbles and confirmed my suspicions.
The "Feast" was fairly forgettable, although I will again bestow kudos on the marinara sauce.  Otherwise, this dish was nothing a chain resto like Buca di Beppo couldn't do equally well if not better.
This entree also came with a side of pasta.  We selected gnocchi at a $2 upcharge, which came out several minutes after the entree itself did...the explanation being "we don't have any heat lamps here". Guess what?  Maybe they wouldn't be a bad idea, since most of our food was served at the wrong temperature and the gnocchi were cold and gummy.
There...I've said it.  I scratch grass over the entire experience.  Unremarkable from start to finish and not recommended.

Tony and Nello's on Urbanspoon

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.


  1. That's a shame. I have dined there at least 20 times and never had a dish served cold or even room temperature. I generally go when it's busy and the kitchen is really in it's groove. Maybe you just happened in on a bad day. Give them a try during a busier time and I am sure you will have a better experience.

  2. Maybe you should go back when your feeling better. I eat there at least twice or more a week and highly recommend them.