At the insistence of my younger brother, UD and I visited Verducci's Italian Market (7800 Blind Pass Rd., St. Pete Beach) last weekend to meet him for lunch. The brainchild of the owners of the adjacent Verducci's Pizzaria Trattoria, the market has only been open for two weeks...but everything is already off-the-chain fabulous! First, the interior is gorgeous and relaxing (thanks in part, I was told, to the implementation of feng shui in its design); and commitment to quality was evident in every bite we consumed. I'm sure word will get out swiftly and this gem will soon be overrun with a manic crush of humanity in a giant fight for food (similar to Mazzaro's, which I can't bear to enter for that reason), so I intend to enjoy the tranquil "soft opening" vibe while I can.
We decided to dine in and grabbed some stools at the coffee bar. Bottles of wine and beer are available for purchase and may be opened and enjoyed on the premises. The spousal unit and I shared a $15.95 bottle of light Italian table wine and baby bro nursed a $3 Peroni. My astonishingly-priced $6.95 Antipasto Salad (which will be known going forward as "God's Own Salad") was basically a shallow bed of crisp lettuce that acted as a carrier for what must've been a pound of assorted cheeses, meats, marinated veggies, jumbo olives and roasted peppers. Drizzled in Italian dressing, GOS was one of best and most beautiful/bountiful salads I've ever eaten.
Hub's Stromboli was similarly generous, meat-laden and oozing melted cheese...a real bargain at $3.95.
My sibling, who has never had a problem successfully shoehorning down food portions of any size, almost had to unhinge his jaw to wrap it around his Meatball Hero. Tender meatballs almost the size of baseballs were nestled in freshly baked, crusty bread and slathered in tangy marinara and melted cheese ($7.95 including chips).
The spousal unit and I shared a fat, chocolate-dipped cannoli from the pastry case for dessert and rolled out of there for around $45 (for the three of us) before adding a gratuity for the sweet barista who walked us through the ordering process.
This beautiful store offers a plethora of prepared foods, cured meats, cheeses, pizzas/calzones/stromboli, gelato/spumoni, pastries, olives, house baked breads, freshly made pasta sauces, wines and cappuccino with a pleasant little cafe area for dining onsite. You will eat out of plastic containers with plastic utensils, but you won't care because it's all so amazing. A great destination for a casual lunch, it will also be virtually impossible NOT to pick up something tantalizing for dinner from the gleaming display cases while you're there. Verducci's Italian Market is destined to be my new home away from home.
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.