Sunday, July 26, 2015

Verducci's Pizzeria & Trattoria, St. Pete Beach, FL

I finally got around to trying this 40-year-old delight (founded in New Jersey in 1976; migrated to St. Pete Beach in 2010) via an increased sense of urgency precipitated by establishing their new Italian Market offshoot as my latest crush. To be fair, classic, old-school Italian cuisine is not typically at the forefront of my little pea brain when I ponder my dining options.  But that's probably because at other traditional Italian restos, everything (from bread, to pasta, to sauces) isn't created from scratch in-house as it is here.  Remarkable.

The venue has a nice, comforting "Sunday supper" kinda vibe that appeals to all types of clientele...families, seniors, couples. In general, it’s a real crowd-pleaser. An exceptional basket of warm bread with olive oil for dipping was deposited right off the bat.

The fried calamari app was a particularly delightful little jewel box, yielding unexpected treasures of butterflied shrimp and razor-thin, deep-fried zucchini rounds as the excavation of its charming, individual fry-basket commenced.

Antipasto Italianio was a generous portion of cured meats, cheeses and roasted veggies with balsamic drizzle. A stunningly beautiful (and bountiful) plethora of delights:

Our cephalopod-loving dining companion nearly swooned over his Maruzella (shrimp, calamari and Spanish octopus simmering in a tomato-based sauce with toasted Italian bread slices for sopping).

Entrees were quite hearty. I think the best thing ordered was the pork osso buco. The glossy, caramelized exterior looked like it had been shellacked, and then the entire shank collapsed into juicy little porcine ribbons at the touch of a fork.

I usually can't shoehorn down truffled anything fast enough, but my veal osso bucco ravioli with porcini mushrooms and truffle sauce almost sent me into sensory overload. You've got to use a light hand with truffle because it can be so overpowering.

The ravioli ultimately proved to be a tad too rich and heady for me, so I swapped it for my hubs' little veal roulades stuffed with cheese and prosciutto.  Served nestled atop a creamy bed of polenta, this dish was a savory delight.   UD seemed to feel that that he got the better end of the deal and had no problem cheerfully snorting the remainder of the truffled pasta. Win-win!

Our other companion selected chicken parmigiana. I'm not the best critic of this dish since it's not something I would ever order (not being a fan of white meat chicken), but it was quite nice. The breast was moist, the breading light and crispy and the sauce bright and tangy (bonus points for lots of cheese!).

Good times, good prices and good service. We all finished with a divine chocolate cannoli.

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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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