In the mood for something both delicious AND healthy (and, yes...I'm as shocked as you are that I managed to use "delicious" and "healthy" in the same sentence)? Well, this is your spot.
While it's nothing fancy either outside (I've managed to drive by it hundreds of times without ever being even remotely intrigued) or inside, it's a comfortable spot with friendly service and an interesting menu. Ingredients all tasted super-fresh and the staff practically bends over backwards to accommodate dietary restrictions and preferences.
My galpal, Aries Wench, and I converged for a late lunch last week and we left both delighted with the cuisine and practically bursting at the seams...to the dulcet tune of $27 each before gratuity (which included two glasses of house wine apiece). It's a rare day that the two of us can meet for lunch without winding up with a $100+ tab.
AW started with the Salmon Nigiri (two nice-sized pieces for $5.50). Being a raw fish and sushi hater from waaaaaay back, I can't really comment other than to say that it looked pretty and she really enjoyed it.
My $6.50 California Chopped Salad (crispy chopped mixed greens, red grapes, veggies, gorgonzola-shallot vinaigrette and gorgonzola crumbles) would've easily been a meal in itself...especially if I'd paid the $4.00 upcharge for a grilled chicken topper. Crunchy, cold and perfectly dressed, I almost wished it hadn't been so large that I couldn't plow my way through it all. Due to the fact that I had a enticing-sounding Spicy Brazilian California Bowl on the way, I had to save stomach space. I haz my priorities and even the best of salads is still...well, a salad.
Ciccio's offers a diverse, casual-Cali style menu with lots of sushi, pizzas, wraps and California Bowls along with a vast selection of ingredients to satisfy any taste. Mixing and matching seems to be encouraged, which is a most welcome divergence from the arrogant "omissions and modifications will be politely declined" statement I've seen with increasingly greater frequently on menus lately. Ummm...there's nothing "polite" about that. I'm not talking about the ass that says, "I'll have the Cheeseburger and Fries, but can you substitute a grilled chicken breast for the beef patty, leave off the cheese, substitute Wonder Bread for the whole wheat bun and (while I don't see it on your menu) is there any way I can get edamame instead of fries?". Oh, hellz noes! But, honestly...is it really too much to ask that no mayo is put on your sandwich or that anchovies are left off of your flatbread? Sorry...I digress.
My Spicy Brazilian California Bowl was a ginormous troth of delightful goodies (blackened chopped chicken, black beans, avocado, corn, sour cream, cheddar cheese, and crispy lettuce with spicy sauce for drizzling). California Bowl ingredients are all layered atop your selection of starch (steamed yellow rice, sticky rice, brown rice, farro, spaghetti squash or chilled Asian noodles). I'm watching my carbs and our excellent server assured me that spaghetti squash made as delicious a bed as any of the starchier selections, so I went with that. I was not disppointed. I think I paid a $2 upcharge for the spaghetti squash which brought the grand total of this massive, Sofa King delish entree to $11. I know the adjective "fresh" is tired and overused, but this dish screamed it with every bite I took.
The Wench ordered the Mexican Bowl, which didn't look a helluva lot different than mine so I'll spare you the photo. Hers was served on yellow rice with plus tomatoes and minus corn.
Ciccio's may be the best casual eatery in South Tampa. Staff is friendly, food is excellent, it's ridiculously affordable and (best yet) you can have it YOUR way.
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.