Pagelli’s Italiano (Wesley Chapel)

My parents have dined at Pagelli’s Italiano in the Wiregrass Mall for quite some time and mentioned to me I had to try the Tiramisu there. Being a huge Tiramisu fan, I did not miss the next chance I had to dine at Pagelli’s. The restaurant is spacious, with plenty of outdoor seating that is shaded and still cool despite the heat of a Florida summer. The setup is similar to many Italian chains and you may feel a sense of deja vu when you enter the restaurant (The Olive Garden came to mind).

I came for an early dinner and found that there was a special menu for early birds (4-6PM) with discounts on appetizers, entrees, and desserts. In addition, there was a bar menu that ran later and I decided to order the Calamari ($5-6) off of this menu. For my main course I ordered their Fettuccini Alfredo ($12) and for dessert I ordered the Tiramisu ($6). The waiter was quick to put our orders in and bring us drinks and bread.

The bread your average bread pieces. Not particularly soft or crunchy, but it worked well with the olive oil sauce provided. It wasn’t bad to snack on until the Calamari arrived a few minutes later.

The Calamari was crunchy and flavorful. The batter wasn’t too heavy. The two sauces provided went fine with it, but I enjoyed it more with just squeezed lemon on top. The Calamari normally costs $9 for dinner so this was quite a saving.

The Fettuccini Alfredo was one of the best parts of the meal. The pasta was well-cooked and the pieces long with plenty of Alfredo sauce to enjoy it with. It wasn’t quite as cheesy as the Fettuccine at Bella’s, but still tasted fresh. The pasta was much lighter than I was initially expecting, but still managed to nearly fill me up. I saved some of it for lunch the next day and it reheated well.

Finally, it was time for dessert and out came the Tiramisu. It has to be one of the most chocolate-coated desserts I have had in some time. While Bella’s pours it on top of the Tiramisu at your table, this dessert comes pre-coated. The inside of the Tiramisu is airy and sweet as a Tiramisu should be. The coffee flavoring is powerful and perhaps the only part that I didn’t enjoy in this dessert was the strong rum taste. If you’re not really much of a rum drinker, you may not like this rum-like aftertaste. Nevertheless, the dessert is still a quality tasting and well worth the $6 price. For now my favorite Tiramisu continues to belong to Hella’s Bakery in Tarpon Springs.

Overall, dining at Pagelli’s Italiano was a pleasant experience. The food was excellent and the service on point. One interesting thing I noticed was the sounds of an opera Italian singer over a speaker system. I originally thought this was a recording (which occurs in many restaurants) and was shocked to find out that the voice I heard was actually being projected from inside the restaurant and I witnessed the opera singer with a strong and powerful voice on my way to the restroom. Live music is always a plus. I will be back to Pagelli’s Italiano in the future for more tasty Italian dishes.

Pagelli's Italiano on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: Pagelli’s Italiano

Cuisine: Italian

Neighborhood: Wesley Chapel

Address: 2001 Piazza Ave Ste 100 Wesley Chapel, FL 33543

Phone Number: (813) 991-1414

Website: http://tampa.pagellis.com

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Brio Tuscan Grille @ International Plaza Disappoints

My first experience at Brio Tuscan Grille was one of fine excellence. My friend had a birthday dinner and we were all treated like kings. My glass would be refilled before it was even half-empty, my meal came out with great timing, and that waiters were so friendly it almost felt surreal. Impressed with their lobster bisque, I was excited to return to Brio for my aunt’s birthday. Unfortunately, my next visit wasn’t so stellar.

During this visit we sat outdoors and the waiter was less than attentive to our party. When we arrived to meet my aunt, the waiter never asked whether I wanted to order a drink and would slip away before I could ask about a drink. This was tolerable during the first-half of my meal, which was a lobster bisque, but it became considerably irritating when my pasta arrived and I had no drink to wash down my pasta.

The lobster bisque was as amazing as my last visit. I would honestly come to Brio just for their lobster bisque. It is affordable and has that creamy and sweet consistency that makes you love the soup.

The fettuccine alfredo is where the meal really took a dive. My favorite pasta is fettuccine alfredo and this was not a fettuccine alfredo. There was barely any sauce on it and the pasta was tasteless and rough, clearly under-cooked. The waiter barely returned to our table until the end of our meal for me to ask for more alfredo sauce and the main course was pretty much a disaster that could not be saved when the sauce finally did arrive.

I was disappointed in the dip Brio Tuscan Grille took in both food and service during this visit. I am not sure if it was because we ate outdoors, but I would honestly never order another pasta here. Olive Garden and Carrabba’s are far superior as far as chains go and Brio fails to even pack a punch against the amazing fettuccine alfredo at Bella’s Italian Cafe. I hope Brio will go back to having incredible service and food in the future.

Brio Tuscan Grille on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: Brio Tuscan Grille

Cuisine: Italian

Address: 2223 Westshore Blvd. Tampa, FL 33607

Neighborhood: Westshore

Phone Number: (813) 877-3939

Website: http://www.brioitalian.com/