Monday, February 4, 2008

Tampa Italian Eats, Busch Gardens, Kayaking and SuperBowl

Florida was paradise this weekend, and I took full advantage of the beautiful February weather after getting back from snowy, cold Chicago. Friday I couldn't decide between downtown St. Pete's First Friday event or just hanging in the neighborhood, so we went over to Cellini's on Bayshore Blvd in South Tampa..i've been here a few times and this place now surpasses Bella's as my fav neighborhood Italian eatery in South Tampa. They always start you off with a small bowl of fresh chopped tomotoes in olive oil with garlic and spices(unlimited) to top off the fresh soft bread. Chicken Parm with a side of speghetti and Rigatoni with cooked sausage in a Vodka Sauce were cooked perfectly, pasta is cooked al dente, sauces are very fresh and tomotoey, great service, the waiter was always refilling our drinks, and tending to us. The place has a family type atmosphere, there is a large bar with flat screen tv's. Its a short walk to Ballast Point Park and Pier where you can get some ice cream afterwards and gaze at some of the best views of downtown Tampa and all of Bayshore.

Every year I ususally get an annual pass for Busch Gardens, so since it was the beginning of 2008, I decided to get a two year pass, includes free parking, discounts on food and merchandise. I typically like to go a few times a year, even to just walk around, have some complimentary beers and check out the Gardens and animals,and of course ride some of the best coasters in the country(Sheikra, Montu, Kumba and Gwazi). Joe and I spent the day here Saturday, taking lots of pictures, riding the rides, checking out the animals and people(there were lots of nice things to see today). We ate at the new BBQ place, and the food was actually very good for a theme park. The Hospitality House was sampling new beers where they were mixing different types(kind of like Black and Tan's), seems like a new marketing scheme for the Beer giant, good stuff though.
For Joe's bday dinner, we all went to CDB's Southside on Westshore Blvd, Kate was craving pasta. Been here a few times, its in my neighborhood, the place is nice inside, small bar downstairs, great lounge upstairs and outdoor balcony overlooking Westshore Blvd. The salads are HUGE and tasty, Im just not a big fan of their sauce, kind of sweet and thick for my liking, also the young server in the back room left much to be desired, so this was another trip with mediocre service.

Sunday we went a bought a kayak at Sweetwater Kayaks on Gandy and 4th street. These guys are very helpful, and carry alot of gear for kayakers. They had several kayaks on consignment in the attic, and Joe opted to purchase one instead of renting today. We were then off to Picnic Island in South Tampa to check out the wildlife and cruise around the mangoves and islands out near MacDill AFB. Some have private beaches. The weather was perfect, it was a great day on the water.
Afterwards, I headed up to Maida's for the SuperBowl game(GO GIANTS!!), where she had a really nice spread of food for all of us, I of course brought the meatballs.

It's a short work week, and i'll be heading to Key West for a long weekend.

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