Carlos Eats Pizza Tour Stop 3: New York, New York Pizza

Hearing from many that New York, New York Pizza in Ybor City has some of the best pizza in town we decided we would give it a shot after a night at Gameworks. We arrived into the place, perhaps not the nicest looking restaurant…but plenty of customers. We found a booth and were quickly waited on. The waiter gave us some time to look over the menu and we decided to go with a large pepperoni pizza.

When the pizza came out it smelled fantastic. There was dim lighting so it was hard to get a good picture of the pepperoni pizza. I took a few photos so hopefully we could portray what it really looked like. The crust was nice and crunchy, the cheese was oozing (thankfully not too hot so we wouldn’t burn our mouths, but just right) and the quality was the best I have had in Tampa. The pizza had little grease as well. Each pepperoni was enjoyable, easily passing any other places visited so far on the pizza tour. Seasoned just right, they made sure not to go overboard with the add-ons and had the additional condiments available to us for our use.

The picture that does the best justice to the pizza is this picture of a slice of pepperoni pizza. You can see how cheesy the slice is, you can tell the pepperoni was cooked right, and see some of the seasoning, as well as a toasted crust. Just looking at this picture is making me hungry all over again for some of their pizza. I can’t count how many times I have walked by this place while visiting Ybor City and never knew what was inside.

I’ll have to make it back here sometime to try some of their other pizzas, but this pepperoni pizza was the best I have had so far.

New York New York Pizza Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: New York, New York Pizza Bar & Grill

Address: 1512 E 7th Ave Tampa, FL 33605

Phone Number: (813) 248-1845

Website: http://www.newyorknewyorkpizzeria.com/

That’s Amore

Tonight my parents took me out to That’s Amore, an Italian restaurant on Harbour Island where a singer they used to follow at the Jazz club “The Fox” was spotted by a friend singing. Being the food critic guy that I am, I started researching the place before I got there and found many negative reviews around Urbanspoon and Yelp. We cautiously headed to the restaurant unsure of what to think about it.

When we got there we were greeted with a pretty spectacular view of Downtown Tampa and complimentary valet parking. Upon entering we heard the piano and found a few seats by the door. The place was pretty busy, but the entertainment had yet to really start. We ordered some drinks and we noticed that the waitress was swamped, her ability to keep up with our table and many others was quite impressive. I think the restaurant should probably look into getting her some help during these busy nights, she seems to be managing…but a little too slow and you could get one of those angry writers. After taking a look at the menu my parents ordered a Veggie Pizza and some wings.

My Step-Dad was pleased with his wings and we discovered that one of my family’s favorite bartenders was also working in this place. The pizza arrived and looked quite unique. I had a slice so I could add it to my pizza tour. The sauce was made from marinara and not from your regular pizza sauce, it gave it a fresh and powerful taste. The toppings were all on thin crust and it almost tasted like something you could whip up in the oven, but much better. All the toppings were pretty good and the pizza actually had a slight kick of spice to it as well, which my family loved, and although I am not much of fan of spicy food fan, I still liked it.

After the pizza I decided to give some of their dessert a shot. I ordered a Tiramisu ($8.95). It was decent, although a little too much liquor for my liking. It stayed true to the taste, but I think I prefer the Olive Garden when it comes to this dessert.

If I was just going to review this place based on food and service, I would probably say that it is a mediocre experience and that it has a nice view (like many others have said). However, once the main Jazz singer for the night Cleo Heart (visit her website) hit the stage it was clear that all these critics had missed something. Vibrant and full of energy, she brought the crowd to the place and really brought that restaurant to life along with her on key pianist. She brought the experience from okay, to I’ll be back for sure. Extremely friendly to any stranger in the crowd, she was witty and her songs all had pizzazz. To be able to kick back to her singing while having a meal or some drinks, now that is worth coming here. She performs Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturday nights so I would recommend visiting during these times.

A restaurant that advertises itself as a “romantic Italian restaurant” has made the right move to have her sing there. The view of downtown waterfront, some interesting food, a bar, and live music combined makes this place a pretty cool spot to be at in Tampa.

That's Amore on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: That’s Amore

Address: 700 Harbour Post Dr. Tampa, FL 33602

Phone Number: (813) 221-9889

Website: http://www.thatsamorerestaurant.com/

Carlos Eats Pizza Tour Stop 2: Pomodoro Pizza

My second pizza tour brought me to Pomodoro Pizza. A small pizza place recommended by some friends. A simple setup. A few tables, a soda machine, and the pizza chefs counter and kitchen are in visible view. While dining in I saw a number of people come in and get pizzas to-go, must be pretty popular in the neighborhood.

Pepperoni Pizza by the slice was a little too greasy. That is probably the price I pay for ordering by the slice. The pepperoni was much higher quality than at Wize Guyz Pizza, though it got a little drenched by the rest of the pizza. The cheese tasted average, I needed to add some Parmesan to give it a stronger taste. The dough was crunchy. It was a filling meal, but a little heavy.

Nephew opted for this type of pizza instead. After seeing my slices though he wanted mine instead. An employee there was nice enough to cut the pizza up before giving it to my nephew. They seem to have a number of different types of pizza, and I would like to try another kind on a different visit.

Overall, I would say this place is pretty average. Nothing worth really bragging about, and at the same time not a bad pizza spot. I would try some other types of pizza if I was in the area, but I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to have their pizza.

Pomodoro on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: Pomodoro Pizza

Address: 1076 E. Brandon Blvd. Brandon, FL 33511

Phone #: (813) 662-9500

Sam Oh Jung

After spending a day at Siesta Keys Beach I found myself wanting some Korean food. Unfortunately it was already late by the time we were leaving and traveling back to Tampa to a Korean restaurant there would take too long. Some searching online helped us find Sam Oh Jung in Bradenton (thanks to Coty S. for reviewing it) and we redirected our course that way. We arrived pretty late (around 9:25PM) and they close at 10PM, but service and food did not suffer despite this circumstance, a true mark of good service.

We ordered two Korean entrees, their Galbi and Dak Bulgogi (around the average price of $20 for each). The food came after only a short wait. The Galbi ribs were heavenly, each bite left you wanting more. It came perfectly off the bone and even the onions that were in the sizzling platter were satisfying.  The Dak Bulgogi tasted more like smoked chicken, it was pretty good as well, however it was no match against the Galbi. This restaurant is actually known more for their sushi, but we did not try any during our visit.

Galbi

Dak Bulgogi

We were the last people in the restaurant and they were very polite to us during our entire stay. I am happy to know that a place like this exists in Bradenton and during visits to Siesta Keys or Lido Beach in Sarasota I now know where I can go to get my Korean fix.

Sam Oh Jung on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: Sam Oh Jung

Address: 6032 14th St W Bradenton, FL 34207

Phone #: (941) 755-3568

Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/sushi-sam-oh-jung-bradenton

Cuenelli’s Peruvian Style Rotisserie Chicken

This past weekend my friend and I were hungry and trying to think of a place to have dinner at. We wanted a place that had some good-quality food, affordable prices, and something almost home-cooked. We are some picky eaters, but after some thinking I finally thought of a spot we could eat at: Cuenelli’s Peruvian Style Rotisserie Chicken.

A small restaurant located next to Green Iguana in Riverview in the Winthrop Plaza, Cuenelli’s has been around for some time now but is still unknown to many Tampa Bay residents. Offering many Peruvian specialties at affordable prices (usually under $10) on their menu, such as Papa la Huancaina (a Peruvian salad of boiled yellow potatoes in a spicy cream sauce), Lomo Saltado (grilled sirloin with onions and tomatoes, served with rice and french fries), and Bisteck a lo Pobre (Palomilla steak served with rice, beans, fried egg, french fries, and plaintains). They also have several desserts, such as Flan, Tres Leches, Churros, and various specialties during the weekend.

When my friend and I arrived we were able to choose where we wanted to sit. The server was patient as I explained the menu to my friend and we ordered Inca Cola (a lemon verbana-flavored soda) to drink. Another popular drink at Cuenelli’s and many Peruvian restaurants is Chicha (a purple corn soft drink which people rave about it though I have never personally tried it). My friend finally decided to order their Bisteck a lo Pobre ($10.95) and I ordered their Chicken Sandwich ($6.99). The wait time was pretty short for our meals.

My friend’s Bisteck a lo Pobre looked so good that I had to make sure I showed my readers. The palomilla steak is pretty big as you can see. He had a hard time eating it by himself and there have been plenty of times when I have ordered this and not been able to finish my food. My friend ate his food one thing at a time, but I believe that the best way to eat this entree is to break the yolk and mix everything together. There have been days when I was feeling sick and this meal made me feel way better and energized.

My Chicken Sandwich was fantastic. The chicken was tender and easy to chew, it just melted in my mouth. The lettuce, tomatoes, and onions inside added even more flavor to a well seasoned chicken. I added a little extra mayonnaise to make it a little more moist. Although this photograph may make it seem like the sandwich was small, it was loaded with chicken and I actually was only able to finish half of this sandwich despite how hungry I was. The french fries taste homemade (without too much salt and a nice soft interior) and are an excellent complement to many of the choices at Cuenelli’s.

Service was great and the waiter made sure to constantly check on our drinks and to ask us how our meal was. My friend was really impressed with the food and will be coming back soon. I know I will.

Cuenelli's Peruvian Style Rotisserie Chicken on Urbanspoon

Restaurant name: Cuenelli’s Peruvian Style Rotisserie Chicken

Address: 6260 Winthrop Town Center Ave. Riverview, FL 33578

Phone #: (813)681-7773

Hours: Monday closed, Tuesday through Saturday 11am to 9pm, Sunday 12pm-8pm

Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/cuenellis-peruvian-style-rotisserie-chicken-riverview

Jasmine Thai (Brandon)

Jasmine Thai in Brandon is a totally different experience from Jasmine Thai on Dale Mabry. I don’t think the places even have the same owner because the Brandon location has its own website. The Brandon location happens to be one of my favorite Thai places in town. Service is always prompt and food has always been excellent on all my visits. The restaurant has a very quiet atmosphere, even answering your cell phone feels like an unwritten taboo. I probably wouldn’t take many friends, but instead choose this place for a date or for a single visit.

Usually the place is not too packed and getting a seat is not too hard. During lunch they have a three course meal where you get soup, your entree, and some dessert for under $10. For Dinner prices go up a few dollars, but for the most part the meal stays under $10. I normally run the bill up a little higher because I love their Chicken Coconut Soup ($2.95) and it is quite hard to resist it. Their Thai Tea is also of good quality, but because of the price of Thai Tea at restaurants ($1.95 here) I usually save my Thai Tea cravings for visits to The Wat Thai Temple on Sundays ($1 Thai Tea).

Chicken Coconut Soup

Chicken Pad Thai

Their Chicken Pad Thai ($9.95)  is almost always perfect and they give you a large portion as well. I never leave this place hungry. They also handle to-go orders well and quality is not effected if you are in rush and can’t dine-in. They have a handful of desserts and my favorite choices are Coconut Ice Cream, Crunchy Banana Coins, and Jasmine’s Banana (Banana Coins with Coconut Ice Cream).

Jasmine Thai on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: Jasmine Thai

Address: 1947 W Lumsden Rd. Brandon, FL 33511

Phone #: (813) 662-3635

Website: http://jasminethaibrandon.com/

Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/jasmine-thai-restaurant-brandon