Monday, February 2, 2009

A Super - SuperBowl Weekend in Tampa

I think Tampa did an amazing job hosting the Super Bowl this year(the city's 4th time), never had I heard so many great things come from the visitors in town from all over the country who were either Pittsburgh Steeler fans or Arizona Cardinal fans...and by most accounts, the Pittsburgh fans out numbered the Cardinal fans by 10:1. The weather(although a bit cool in the 60s), parties, festivals, and people, made this an event to remember.

Friday, we went down to Ybor City for eats and par take in the festivities....coming from South Tampa through downtown, Channelside was closed off, and we were able to get into Ybor easily through the back way, parking in the Centro Ybor was like Gasparilla Night Parade, streets were packed, they closed off 7th avenue...and it was a good packed...lots of fans and visitors just taking in the sights, sounds and eagerly awaiting a glimpse of a celeb outside of The Ritz for the Maxim party....and nearly every storefront was open, they rented out the closed storefronts with merchandise and art gallery's along the avenue...there were even a few bars that had opened only for the weekend.
We checked out the menu at the new restaurant called "The NEST" on 7th and 15th...great looking Tapas place, but a 30 minute wait made us go elsewhere...then checked out the new L'Olivier Restaurant and Cabaret...with two shows a night, this looks to be a VERY entertaining place...great for date night, or when visitors are in town...after watching a bit of the show, we proceeded to Gaspar's Grotto...a full house, but we found a small booth next to the bar area...Friendly Matt was able to accommodate us, every one here seemed to be very friendly...and it was Karaoke night...very entertaining far as food, a new chef has taken over here(JP from Bern's), and the new menu looks great...we decided to start with Calamari...lightly seasoned, very tasty...and then munch on a Cuban and an Italian Cheese Steak sandwich's...both very good and filling, come with fancy sliced sweet potatoes. I will be back to check out more of this menu...and its a fun "pirate" filled place.
Continuing on some sights we saw...a Cardinals fan actually carrying a stuffed Cardinal on his hand at Coyote Ugly, Avril Levine singing at Coyote Ugly, more than enough Yager shots coming out of Reservior Bar(I think I saw about 20 empty Yaeger bottles on the bar, it was not even midnight yet)...hangin out with Ben Graham(kicker from Cardinals) cousin who flew in with his buddy from Australia, and star sightings at the D'Italia Pizza on 15th street at 3am after the maxim party closed its doors...

Saturday, we ventured back to Ybor City...dinner was at the Laughing Cat, perfect Italian food as always, and we were able to sneak in as a reservation had not shown up...Mussels, Eggplant Parm, Bowtie Pasta in a Vodka Sauce, and an Umbria Pinot Grigio...reminded me of just how good things were when I was in Italy....the craziness was back on the streets again..a new place opened for the weekend in the old dish location at centro Ybor called "Toxic Ultra Lounge" with a huge balcony overlooking 7th avenue, we spent some time there, mingling with the visitors and watching 7th avenue get busier and busier....met up with some fo our Pittsburgh friends who now live here at Carmine's Patio,a nd had lots of their friends come into town(both drive and fly) from Pittsburgh area...across teh street over to Gaspar's Grotto...and a stop at the Green Iguana Ybor closed up this Saturday night.

Sunday, looking for some brunch options, we peeked into the new Datz Deli, but were told it would be over na hour wait for food...its a nice shop, selling bakery goods, fresh sliced meats and cheeses..we sampled some Proscioto di Parma, and homemade jams, and went on to Cafe Hey, downtown Tampa for Homemade Chili, and some great pressed sandwich's. Its a funky little coffeehouse, on Franklin Ave just north of the Interstate in downtown.
Sunday night was a nice little SuperBowl party down the street with some good friends....the whole weekend was a good time...and the game was a nail biter in the second half(half of us were for Pittsburgh, the other half for Arizona)...The Boss did an amazing half time show, Jennifer Hudson could not have done a better job with the Star Spangled Banner(actually I think it was the best one I have ever heard)....

Kudos to the City of Tampa...they put on a great show, and although it may have been a nuisance for some of us in regards to traffic, and the influx of nearly over 100,000 people to the Tampa was well worth it in my opinion...

Coming up...we d o it all over again...with nearly 500,000 coming into town Saturday for the Gasparilla Pirate Invasion, Parade and Street festival downtown, and then the week after, its the Gasparilla Night Parade in Ybor City....

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