Everyone tries to find that little, local Italian place near home for a comfort food fix. I’ve been looking around for a while for some good Italian, and I managed to find two places near home that fit the bill.
Cafe Cibo was the first place I tried. I can’t speak much about the service or the atmosphere (although it seems very cosy) because I did takeout, but when I would call to order, they were always friendly and the food was prepared promptly before pickup. I’ve had the Linguine with White Clam Sauce ($13.95), Fettucine Alfredo ($12.95) and Chicken Picatta ($14.95).
The Linguine with White Clam Sauce was interesting in that the clams were very big and tender. The linguine was a high quality pasta and the sauce had the requisite garlic and parsley. It was very good and the large clams allowed for more flavor and texture than your typical linguine and clams dish. The Fettucine Alfredo was lacking a bit in that there wasn’t much sauce and the sauce I could taste didn’t have very much Parmesan in it. The whole dish was just a little dry for my liking. The Chicken Picatta, on the other hand, was the real deal. Tender, thin slices of chicken breast, lightly dusted in flour and then sauteed and finished in a lemon and caper sauce. It was served with a side of penne tossed lightly in a red sauce with a little cheese on top.
With the recent opening of Gigi’s here in St. Pete (in the former Bonefish space on 4th Street), I thought I would order some food from there as well. Let me tell you that people who think restaurants are suffering from a lack of customers in St. Pete have never been to Gigi’s. It was packed with people in the middle of week. With several locations in the Tampa Bay area, they seem to be doing very well. I ordered the Pasta Carbonara ($12), Chicken a la Parmigiana ($16) and Calamari ($15).
I am a huge Carbonara fan, so I was almost afraid to order this dish, but it did not disappoint. The dish had lardons of Pancetta scattered throughout, the sauce was smooth with that egg and Parmesan flavor I love and a hint of bacon flavor from the Pancetta. It was really outstanding and the best of all the Italian dishes I have tried in St. Pete. The Chicken a la Parmigiana was good, also. It had a blend of cheeses on the top and the chicken was tender. The sauce was a little thick, but had an authentic, homemade flavor. The Calamari was flash-fried perfectly and the breading was crispy on the outside, as it should be, but again the sauce for dipping was a little thick.
If you are in the Northeast area of St. Pete, you may want to check out both of these Italian restaurant options on 4th Street. Early dining options at Gigi’s are from 4 – 6 pm and include many of their entrees for only $8.00 and a children’s menu with most selections priced at $6.00.