Tampa Bay Romantic Dining Off the Beaten Path

Don CeSar
TAMPA (2010-2-10) It may be tough to get a reservation at the Don CeSar and other well-known restaurants this Valentine's Day weekend.
TAMPA (2010-2-10) -

With most of the big name restaurants already booked for Valentine’s Day weekend, food critic Laura Reiley of the St. Petersburg Times gives her suggestions for out-of-the way romantic dining.

Reiley said she surveyed several Tampa Bay restaurants and discovered it will be tough to get a reservation at places such as Oyster Catchers, Armani’s, CK’s, Caretta’s at the Sand Pearl, Don CeSar, and The Vinoy.

But several smaller restaurants are lovely alternatives, Reiley said. Pia’s Trattoria in Gulfport has what she called a wonderful patio setting.

She also recommends Osteria Natalina on MacDill Avenue in Tampa because of its pasta.

“Think of the ‘Lady and the Tramp’ scene with the noodles,” she said.

Finally, she said Beach Bistro on Anna Maria Island is well worth the drive. She said it’s like a circus tent, draped in silk, with red roses on tables and beach view.

“And if you’re a little of a cheapskate, you can have all that on the café side and listen at the piano bar,” she said.

Or, you can do what Reiley plans to do – cook her own romantic meal. She said help is available from places such as Mazzaro’s Italian Market or Fresh Market with prepared foods, bread, and cheeses.

She said nothing could be more romantic than a picnic on the beach in Pinellas County.

On the other hand, she said restaurants on the Pinellas beaches have many positive attributes, but romantic? Not so much.

To hear more romantic dining suggestions, listen to the entire interview or go to read Reilley’s columns in the St. Petersburg Times.

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