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Food & Drink

Best Italian Restaurants in Tampa

By Barbara Ann Kelley, CBSTampa.com
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Kimberly at Gigi's on 4th Street in St Pete. (Photo Credit: Barbara Ann Kelley)

Kimberly at Gigi’s on 4th Street in St Pete. (Photo Credit: Barbara Ann Kelley)

Everybody loves pasta, but where can you get the best Italian food in Tampa? Don’t worry – we’ve got the scoop! Here’s our list of the best Italian restaurants in Tampa that include small romantic cafes, trendy bistros and top of the line white table-cloth restaurants.

Donatello Restaurant
232 N Dale Mabry Hwy, Tampa, FL 33609
(813) 875-6660

If you are looking for that romantic Italian meal, Donatello’s might be for you. Fresh, homemade pastas and other carefully constructed dishes can be suggested by the tuxedoed staff. Donatello’s cuisine is mostly northern Italian. Fresh roses adorn each table. Be warned, though – Donatello’s is not inexpensive. Perfect for special occasions. Best bet dinning tip: Try the Vitello Dolce Vita . It’s veal scaloppini with imported Italian ham, mushrooms and truffle in a light white wine sauce.

Website: www.donatellorestauant.com
Hours: 7 Nights a Week 5:30pm – 11:00pm

Osteria Natalina
3215 MacDill Avenue, Tampa, FL
(813) 831-1210

Don’t let the hole-in-the-wall strip mall outside appearance fool you this is old-style Italian food at its best. Osteria Natalina is top of the line in service, charm and food. They hand make everything. Best bet dinning tip:  Try the lobster and ricotta cheese stuffed ravioli it’s mind-blowing and the linguine with white clam sauce will give you goose bumps.

Website: www.osterianatalina.com
Hours: Tue – Sun  5:30pm until 10:30pm. Closed Monday

Maggiano’s Little Italy
203 Westshore Plz.,Tampa, FL 33609
(813) 288-9000

Maggiano’s has two types of ordering, ordering off the menu or ordering “Family Style”. Family Style you get 2 appetizers, 4 Entrees, and you just pass them around. If you run out of something, they refill it. Call for dinner reservations on weekends and most nights if you want to eat before 9:00pm. Best bet dinning tip: Try the Baked Rigatoni Pomodoro.

Website: www.maggianos.com
Hours: Mon-Thu 11:00am – 10:00pm. Fri-Sat 11:00am – 11:00pm. Sun 12:00pm – 10:00pm.

Timpano Italian Chop House
1610 W. Swann Ave.,Tampa, FL 33606
(813) 254-5870

Located in the trendy and 30-something South Hyde Park area of Tampa, the Timpano Italian Chop House boasts a warm atmosphere and an award-winning menu. There’s live entertainment every Tuesday through Saturday evening and a lively and beautiful bar crowd. Best best dinning tip: check out their large brunch on Saturday and Sunday.

Website: timpanochophouse.net
Hours: M – Thu: 11:30am – 10pm Fri: 11:30am – 11:00pm  Sat 11:00am – 11:00pm Sun: 11:00a, – 11:00 pm

The Laughing Cat Bistro
1820 N 15th St (Ybor City) Tampa, FL 33605
(813) 241-2998

Serving up what they tout as “New & Progressive Italian Cuisine,” we’re confident you’ll find their homemade food delicious. Laughing Cat is a hole-in-the-wall type of restaurant so if it’s classy you’re looking for, avoid. If you are looking for large portions and home taste come-on-down!  Best best dinning tip: They have a $10, all-you-can eat buffet lunch, which might be one of the best deals in town.

Website:  www.thelaughingcat.com
Hours: Lunch Mon – Fri 11am – 3pm. Dinner 3-10pm. Reservations are recommended for Dinner

Pane Rustica Bakery & Cafe
3225 S. MacDill Ave., Tampa, FL 33629
(813) 902-8828

Pane’ Rustica is a wholesale and retail bakery and restaurant. They are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They are small, unique and sometimes very busy. FYI – You will not find more perfectly cooked diver scallops anywhere in Tampa Bay. Fabulous sandwiches at great prices too. Their gelatos and coffee are excellent as well. Best bet dinning tip: Try the wood-fired flat-bread pizzas or the baked Rigatoni with spicy sausage, peas, smoked mozzarella and tomato cream. Trust me it’s fabulous!

Website: www.panerusticabakery.com
Hours – Tuesday: 8:00am – 5:00pm. Wednesday – Saturday: 8:00am – 5:00pm. Sunday:  8:00am – 3:00 pm. Closed Tuesday.

Did we miss your favorite? We welcome your comments and encourage you to tell us about your favorite Italian restaurants in the comment section below.

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