- Plus a few more...
It's clear that the Sarasota area is rich in Italian restaurants, so rich, in fact, that it’s time for a roundup of some of the most outstanding ones. The list omits restaurants that have been reviewed in the last year, which means leaving out such deserving ones as Bellagio, Dolce Italia, Ferrari’s, El Pescador, 15 South, Nostra Pasta and Taste of Sicily. So, let’s have a drum roll and proceed, in alphabetical order.
2085 Siesta Drive, Sarasota, 951-9200, andreasristorante.com (Sarasota Herald-Tribune photo by Dan Wagner)Andrea's Ristorante
Owner Andrea Bozzolo left Divino’s to open up this eponymous restaurant, much to Sarasota’s gain. Selections here are good across the board but keep an eye out especially for the fish dishes, which are simply but elegantly prepared.
5770 South Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, 927-9262, bolognacafe.com (Sarasota Herald-Tribune photo by Dan Wagner)Bologna Cafe
Both a restaurant and a deli, Bologna Café’s display case of preserved meats and cheeses will whet anyone’s appetite. For some it will lead directly to their lavish antipasto, which is a tasty step toward the inviting main courses. The gnocchi are especially good.
1371 Main Street, Sarasota, 951-6896, cafeamicisrq.comCafe Amici
It’s been a while since I last ate here but I still remember the roast duck, succulent and redolent of herbs. The staff can be erratic but the food still trumps service at this point.
5104 Ocean Boulevard, Siesta Key, 349-1423, cafegabbiano.com (STAFF PHOTO/CHIP LITHERLAND)Cafe Gabbiano
If you’re on Siesta Key — or even if you’re not — this is the place to head for Italian food. Try the well-executed Zuppa di Vongole for a blast of garlic and clams, but make sure you leave room for dessert, because Café Gabbiano stretches beyond the predictable tiramisu and cannoli standards.
8203 Cooper Creek Boulevard, University Park, 359-2500, cantinatoscana.biz (Sarasota Herald-Tribune Staff Photo by Thomas Bender)Cantina Toscana
Located in the Sarasota Outlet Mall, Cantina Toscana overcomes its setting with pleasant surprises like Suppli di Riso allo Zafferano ($13), deep-fried risotto balls with a ham and cheese stuffing. Speaking of risotto, the restaurant has a good selection of toothsome ones.
1766 Main Street, Sarasota, 330-9393, divinosarasota.com (Sarasota Herald-Tribune photo by Dan Wagner)Divino Ristorante
Divino’s sits on probably the least-trafficked block on Main Street, yet it has managed to draw diners in with its well prepared if familiar dishes. Don’t look for innovation here but do expect satisfaction.
1970 Main Street, Sarasota, 365-4122, mediterraneorest.com (Staff photo by Mike Lang)Mediterraneo
What’s there to say? Since it opened Mediterraneo established itself as a stylish location where the food and service are always superior, equally pleasing to newcomer or the habitué.
2324 Gulf Gate Drive, Sarasota, 706-2821, ohmammamiarestaurant.com (Staff Photo/E. Skylar Litherland)Oh Mamma Mia!
This tiny restaurant in Gulf Gate makes the most of its size alternates between classics like Spaghettini Pomodoro and brasher pastas like the Spaghetti Ajo Ojo Peperoncino, which mixes garlic, anchovies, and red pepper to wake up the palate. There was trout, too, the last time I went.
1418 13th Street West, Bradenton, 741-8646, ortygiarestaurant.com (STAFF PHOTO/CHIP LITHERLAND)Ortygia
Charismatic chef and owner Gaetano "Guy" Cannata has turned this small restaurant in the Village of the Arts in Bradenton to a destination location with his takes on classic Sicilian dishes. Try the savory torts or the Timballo di Penne, a stuffed pasta dome.
23 North Lemon Avenue, Sarasota, 365-1020, salutesarasota.com (Sarasota Herald-Tribune photo by Dan Wagner)Salute!
Salute! builds on the familiar dishes found in many Italian restaurants than freshens the menu up with specials like grilled sardines (I hope they’re still featuring them occasionally) and Orecchiette, the cute ear-shaped pasta. All this served in handsome surroundings.
10 Great Italian Restaurants
/ Tuesday, March 20, 2012