True Italian Artisanal Food is Alive and Well @ Cesare at the Beach!
Well! What a great escape to European style dining on South Clearwater Beach next to Sandkey Bridge. Guys, take off those shorts and flip-flops, put on a pair of slacks and your Tommy Bahama shirt; gals put on your red dress and discover what multi-national tourists and locals have discovered over the last 6 years – “romantic dining”.
Your host Cesare, hails from a family of Northern Italian restauranteurs and has been responsible for bringing his family recipes to several successful Tampa Bay area restaurants. With his partner Carlo, operates meticulously behind the scene making sure everything exceeds your expectations are a great team!
Choose to dine in the huge outdoor patio or the intimate airy dining room. Meet up in the small bar/lounge area and select from a decent wine list of labels, including those of the prized Andretti family vineyards. (Also, a large beer selection.)
Okay, okay, after months of my ‘foodie’ friends visiting Cesare at the Beach and reporting back, it was time for your Love Chef to validate their “gastronomic findings”. So I tucked my napkin in my shirt and with a great track of relaxing soft music playing in the background, my “Principessa” and I were ready to dine.
Our Appetizer Choices of:
Calamari Fritta @ $10 per plate
Eggplant Rollatini @ $12 per plate
Mozzarella Capresse @ $10 per plate
The Calamari in a lightly breaded batter (I prefer a squeeze of lemon and a dusting of pepper) were extremely tender. I could have been anywhere on the Adriatic.
The Eggplant Rollatini had a nice twist with the addition of mascapone (Italian cheese) with ricotta.
Mozzarella Capresse , the main ingredient of which is tomato; Cesare uses local ripened Florida tomatoes and true Buffalo Mozzarella with a splash of balsamic – this was absolutely delicious.
Our variety of Pastas included the evening specials of Sacchettini (little purses/small packets of fresh pasta filled with ricotta/prosciutto/peas) in a tomato vodka sauce @ $20 per plate. Boys and gals, this was in my dreams that night!
Now my “Principessa”, who has had bolognese around the world, was in “Bolognese Heaven” (she’s going to kill me) with Cesare’s Fettuccine Alla Bolognese @ $18 per plate.
The Lasagne Verdi was a symphony of layers of crafted spinach pasta with a harmonious smattering of meat sauce, bechamel sauce and topped with real Parmesan cheese @ $18 per plate.
Now the secondo (second course):
You must, must try the Ossobuco Milanese, a thick cut of the veal shank, slow, slow cooked served with capellini pasta @ $30 per plate, and you should try the risotto as an option side ($5.00).
This evening’s special Pesce (fish): Grouper Francese-style was a generous 10 ounce filet of the freshest grouper, lightly sauteed (after a flour dusting and egg bath), some lemon, capers and you’re in “Fish Heaven” @ $26.00 per plate.
Beef lovers will be totally satisfied with the Medaglioni Con Gorgonzola e Funghi. The most tender beef tenderloin sauteed with mushroom and a blended Gorgonzola cheese sauce @ $26.00 per plate.
Of course, the chicken dishes like the Pollo Siciliana, which is a breast of fresh chicken sauteed in olive oil with mushrooms, peppers, capers and olives in a spicy tomato sauce @ $18.00 per plate, is a great fusion of flavor. Usually, most entrees are accompanied with a side of roasted potatoes/green beans.
Yes, we have room for dessert (not really), and @ $5.00 each of several desserts, what do you think my “Principessa” did? Order all 6 on the menu. Since all are made on premises they are exceptional, worth the calories!
Now boys and gals, the great Sicilian cannoli (which I tasted in dozens of Sicilian towns I visited). Cesare’s cannoli is a ‘gem’. Crispy shell with a fluffy ricotta chocolate chip filling. (Great to pop in the lounge for this alone with a glass of dessert wine and great espresso.
Cesare’s patrons rave about the Tiramisu. Lady fingers dipped in espresso, covered in mascarpone cream. I took one home. Okay, so I ate it for breakfast, exceedingly delicious.
And, by the way, all Cesare’s dishes can be prepared for you to take home and enjoy with the sunset. What a great party space!!
Cesare on the Beach is open 7 days from 5:30 P.M. to 10:00 P.M. Telephone (727) 449-8797. Major credit cards.