food · pizza · tampa

eat: Russo’s New York Pizzeria

RussosSign

Guess what today is?

It’s the day before my 31st birthday! I thought to myself, what better way to spend my last night as a 30 year old than to get a 90 minute massage, drink some wine, watch some Netflix, and update my blog?! Yes, I know, i’m a wild woman #partygirl I’m sorry you guys, I have been so busy eating lately I haven’t had time to write about it! #foodieproblems 

Lately I have been craving some really good Italian food and let me tell you, when I get a craving, I need to satisfy it or I get hangry and no one wants to see that! I put the word out that I was in need of some good ol’ fashioned Italian cooking and my friend came to my rescue and suggested a place near her, in Clearwater, called “Russo’s New York Pizzeria” – I thought to myself “well, I love New York and I love pizza so let’s go check it out!”

Russo’s is a very warm and welcoming place- it has cozy atmosphere with a brick oven, open kitchen, and super friendly staff- they made us feel right at home like a true Italian family. Whenever I go to a restaurant I always ask what they recommend- we were told that the Eggplant Rollatini appetizer was very popular so we decided to try it even though we didn’t even really know was it was- all we knew was that we were starving!

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Eggplant Rollatini

YOU GUYS these were fantastic!! These little mountains of deliciousness were stuffed eggplant with ricotta, mozzarella, fresh basil, lightly breaded & fried- with a tomato cream sauce. If you thought they we’re pretty looking out the outside, just wait and see what they look like on the inside…

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The eggplant and ricotta/mozzarella mixture were a winning combination- the tomato cream sauce took it to the next level. It was crispy on the outside and cheesy and gooey on the inside- magnifico!

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Their bread was really good as well, it wasn’t your typical Italian bread it was actually pizza dough which was light and airy- not too heavy or filling. I’m not gonna lie, writing about this and looking at the pictures is making me hungry! This blogging business is very dangerous 🙂

Russo’s has a large menu with several selections of salads, pizzas, pastas, sandwiches, calzones, etc. I knew I had a taste for pizza, while Chris was feeling like pasta- he couldn’t decide between spaghetti & meatballs (his favorite) or the chicken pesto pasta. What does my Lovechunk do when he can’t decide? He gets both!

Meatballs
Spaghetti & Meatballs
Pasta
Chicken Pesto Pasta

Both dishes were delicious! I’m actually glad he got both so we could try the different dishes. The meatballs were moist, juicy, and full of flavor- while the chicken pesto dish was fresh, balanced, and had the perfect amount of pesto. He actually had to keep swatting my fork away from the pesto dish because I kept going back for more- oops! #sorrynotsorry

Now on to my FAVORITE part….:drumroll please:.….THE PIZZA!!!!

Okay, now let me just say that as a professional eater- and an even more professional PIZZA eater- I know what good pizza tastes like. In my opinion, a great pizza should have a good balance of pizza crust v.s. cheese & toppings- not too much of either one, they shouldn’t be competing. It should also have a crispy-but not TOO crispy- crust but also have some give to it, make sense? If not, just let me know and we can go have pizza together and I can show you 🙂 Well, long story short, the pizza I got from Russo’s was ON POINT. I, like my boo, had a struggle trying to choose which pizza to get- I was torn between the classic Margherita (tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, garlic, olive oil) or the New York Village (crumbled spicy Italian sausage, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, beef, mushrooms, black olives, roasted peppers, mozzarella, pizza sauce)- so what do you think this girl did?? You guessed it- I got both! #2peasinapod

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    THAT PIZZA THO!

    This pizza was probably one of the best pizzas that I’ve had in a really long time- and that’s saying a lot because I eat a lot of pizza! The crust was thin, but not too thin- the toppings were fresh, and the sauce was rich & developed. I’ll be honest, I ate about half of this pizza all by myself- Chris was going back and forth between pizza and pasta- all of our dishes were delectable. It was hard to stop eating! I love me some carbs!

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    They have a nice dessert menu as well- I was trying to hold out for a cannoli but we were just so stuffed we basically had to be rolled out of there- the good thing is we had leftovers 🙂

     

    RussosSpecials

    Russo’s has a wide selection of wines and they also feature daily specials. They even do catering as well as delivery to nearby locations. Even though this is a bit of a drive for us, it was definitely worth it.

    Bottom Line:  I’m so grateful my friend recommend this place so I am passing along the tip! If you want some great Italian food and even greater pizza- head to Clearwater and go to Russo’s! Tell them Tiffany sent you- and bring me a slice 🙂

    Xoxo,

    Tiffany

    What is your favorite Italian dish? What is your “perfect pizza”? Are you a pizza or a pasta person? I’d love to know! Comment Below! 

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    food · tampa · travel

    eat: Burger Culture

    BC3

    • Burger Culture6290 N Dale Mabry Hwy Tampa, FL 33614
    • Cuisine- Burgers, American
    • Price Range- $$

    Happy Thursday everyone! I hope you’re having a great week so far, I know I am because I just discovered a new place that was INCREDIBLE! To be honest, I didn’t discover it, my bae did- he’s my food scout 🙂 I’m off of work today and I called him and asked if he wanted to meet for a lunch date and he said “I know just the place! Are you in the mood for burgers?” What a silly question! The answer is ALWAYS YES! I then asked “is it blog worthy??” and he said “yes, bring your camera!” Those words were enough motivation for me to get dressed, do my hair, put my face on, (#iwokeuplikethis) grab my camera, and be in the car in about 15 minutes – that’s really fast for me!

    He told me to meet him at a food truck in Tampa called “Burger Culture“,  we got there and I was very impressed with the menu, it had a big variety of burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches and more too choose from- and very creative sandwiches too!

    BCMenu

     

    Once I saw that they had something called a “Waffle Burger” that was it- I knew what I was getting! It’s a burger between a Belgian waffle with goat cheese, blueberry compote, and honey drizzle- they had me at Belgian Waffle #brugeswithdrawals

    WaffleBurger
    Waffle Burger

    YOU GUYS!!!! THIS BURGER WAS ON POINT! I’m going to post pictures of me devouring this thing so you can eat it vicariously through me (you’re welcome 🙂

     

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    Hard at work for you guys!

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    Did you enjoy that food journey we just took? I know I did! This burger is unlike any other I have ever had- it was like eating a scrumptious breakfast – the goat cheese and blueberry compote were a perfect medley! The honey drizzle was the icing on the cake. Not only that, the burger itself was cooked just right- very juicy, tasty, and delectable! I would rate this burger 5 stars, hands down. I also opted to get the sweet potato fries instead of regular because I love me some sweet potato fries! Those were great too but I was just so entranced with this waffley piece of art food. And yes, “waffley” is now officially a word 🙂

    CajunBurger
    Cajun Burger

    My lovechunk decided to go with the “Cajun Burger” because he likes the spicier things in life. The Cajun burger has a Cajun patty, smoked gouda, sautéed mushrooms and chipotle.

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    YAS!!!

    He said this is the one he always gets when he comes so of course he loved it. I tried it but it was a bit too spicy for me- I’m a wimp when it comes to heat! But heat lovers would love this I’m sure! Chris said he “thought the burger was cooked to perfection and the toppings didn’t overshadow the burger itself- they went together just right” – clearly he could have his own food blog too 🙂 #chriseatstampa

    “Burger Culture” has been around for about 5 years and in this location for 3 years. They said they just opened a second location in SoHo. They are also available on UberEats! I also really like that even though it’s a food truck they have an area for covered seating with fans- as you Floridians know summertime is very hot and the last thing I want to do is eat outside in the heat- but they made it very comfortable!

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    They also has a selection of grilled cheese sandwiches which I will need to try next time we come back- which I’m sure will be soon because I already have my Mom and several friends asking me to take them here- fine with me! I also like that they offer turkey burgers as well as black bean and protobello mushroom as your patty.

     

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    Bae Approved 🙂

     

     

    Bottom Line: If you’re in the mood for a GREAT burger- look no further- check out Burger Culture and bring your appetite!

    Xoxo,

    Tiffany

     

    What are your favorite burger toppings?? Have you ever had a waffle burger?? Sweet potato or regular fries?

     

     

     

     

     

    food · tampa · travel

    eat: Loli’s Mexican Cravings

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    The Tampa Food Train is back in action! ALL ABOARD! I wish I could take you all with me to this place- like a foodie field trip- wouldn’t that be fun?  Because this is another place that is near and dear to my heart belly. But first I need to tell you the history of my love for Loli’s..let the “foodie-tale” begin!

    Years ago, in 2011, when my lovechunk was still in the U.S. Navy, he was stationed in San Diego. It was a lovely time, featuring great weather, lots of sunshine, and also lots of tacos. Let me start by saying that San Diego has AMAZING cuisine – especially lots of Mexican cuisine- being that it is so close to Mexico there is an abundance of authentic restaurants and taco shops everywhere.

    During our 2 year stay in San Diego we enjoyed our fair share of tacos- but me personally, I had my fair share- and then some! Chris had to leave me and go on a deployment for 8 months 😦 and well, what else is a girl to do while her man is gone but eat lots and lots of tacos?? #tacotherapy Let’s just say I became quite an expert on good Mexican food and not-so-good Mexican food.

    Anyhow, fast forward to 2014. Since coming back home to Tampa, Chris and I have been on a mission to find some authentic Mexican food #tacosnobs with little to no luck. Some places came close but we just couldn’t seem to find something that was good enough until one fateful night….

    It was December 19, 2014- a night I will never forget. We were at my work’s Christmas party, being merry and such, when it was time to eat. I didn’t know what they were serving- I don’t ask a lot of questions when it comes to eating I just grab a plate 🙂 So we got in line and discovered they had food catered and it was tacos & tamales. We stuffed our plates and sat down at our table. I remember taking a bite of that chicken taco – it was like fireworks went off in my mouth! I’m pretty sure I had tears in my eyes from being so happy- I looked at Chris and said “BABE! TASTE THIS!” and I shoved the taco into his mouth…he chewed and I waited for his head nod of approval…and I got it! This food was legit! I found out the name of the place that provided the delicious food…it was called “Lolis Mexican Craving’s”.

    We were so excited to go there- I don’t think we even waited a full week! Loli’s is a hole in the wall- when I say that I mean it’s very small, with 5 tables, and that’s basically it. No frills. When the food is THAT good you don’t need any frills! When we arrived we discovered they have more than just tacos and tamales. They also have sopes, tortas, and quesadillas. We’ve never head of a sope before but we thought we’d try it and i’m SO glad we did because they are FANTASTIC!

     

    sope
    Sope

    A sope is a traditional Mexican dish that is fried masa- formed into a round shape- topped with refried black beans, meat of your choice, lettuce, avocado, crumbed cheese, and sour cream. I like to get the ribeye sope (pictured above) – it’s my personal favorite. I often ask myself, what is better than 1 sope? The answer is…2 sopes!

     

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    Chicken sope & Ribeye sope

    Let me explain what an authentic Mexican taco consists of- a corn tortilla, your meat of choice, cilantro, and grilled onions. They also have sauces to choose from like an avocado cilantro (my fav) and some other spicy ones that I’m too afraid to try. Chris says the habanero sauce is “on point but proceed with caution as it’s very spicy”. Loli’s has a lot of options to choose from for your taco, sope, quesadilla and torta needs – ribeye, chicken, pastor, campechano, shrimp, fish, lengua, chicarron, chorizo, carnitas, and vegetarian. If the only tacos you are familiar with are from “Taco Bell”- I beg you to come to Loli’s and experience these bad boys! You will thank me 🙂

    My favorite tacos are the pastor, ribeye, and fish tacos. The pastor tacos come with onions, cilantro, and pineapple- the sweetness just goes impeccably with the saltiness from the meat.

     

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    Pastor Tacos

    The fish taco is fried white fish, cabbage, avocados, cilantro, and pico de gallo- squeeze some lime on that- perfection!

     

    Fishtaco
    Fish taco

    Their tamales, tortas, and quesadillas are also delectable. It’s hard not to order half of the menu every time we go.

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    Now, I need to confess something…when we first discovered Loli’s I was very selfish (only child syndrome) and I told Chris that we shouldn’t tell anyone about them because then it will get too popular and busy and we’d have to wait forever to get our food ( #princessproblems) . Well, that didn’t last long- we told everyone we knew how great and authentic this place was. And other people discovered this great place and so on and so on- basically the word got out- because now Loli’s has lines out the door anytime you go there- people even wait outside in the rain for their food- I’ve seen it! And honestly, I’m so happy they have been so successful- they deserve it! And yes, now princess has to wait in line for her tacos and sopes, but it’s definitely worth the wait- I promise you! Don’t believe me? Check out this bulletin board on the wall of the restaurant that people can write notes on. It’s unanimous- Loli’s is the best. Also, they just started opening on Sundays- they are now open 7 days a week! #bestnewsever

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    sopeprincess
    Sope Princess

    Bottom Line: Go have some authentic Mexican food at Loli’s Mexican Cravings..tell them “Tiffany Eats Tampa” sent you- and then bring me a sope!!! 🙂

    Xoxo,

    Tiffany

    What is your favorite Mexican food dish? How many sopes can you eat in one sitting? Let me know!

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    arepas · food · tampa · travel

    eat: Nico’s Arepas Grill

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    • Nico’s Arepas Grill – 8303 N Armenia Ave Tampa, FL 33604
    • Cuisine: Latin American, Venezuelan 
    • Price Range: $

    CHOOT CHOOT! The “Tiffany Eats Tampa” train is taking us to a very special place in my belly heart this week- Nico’s Arepas Grill.

    sidenote: if you would like to play a game while reading this, you can take a shot every time I say the word “arepa”- spoiler alert: you will get drunk. Don’t drink & drive! 🙂 #tiffstips #PSA

    Let me start my foodietale (get it, like “fairytale?” ha- okay, moving on) in London, September of last year. Bae and I went to Camden Market (which is fabulous by the way, I will need to make a separate blog about my love affair with London –stay tuned) which was basically a foodie & shopping paradise. There were tons of different food trucks & restaurants with a wide variety of cuisines to choose from. We stumbled upon a truck that said “AREPA”- it smelled heavenly. We looked at each other and said “what’s an arepa”? I’m SO glad we asked because we soon discovered it’s amazingness. Below is our first ever arepa….

    arepaog
    First ever arepa in London!

    It was love at first bite!

    For those of you who aren’t familiar, an arepa is a Venezuelan and Columbian dish, it’s  almost like a corn pita/pancake. It is opened up and served with your choice of toppings inside. It’s a bit doughy on the inside and crispy on the outside.

    Once we came home from London we went on a quest to find the best arepa in town. We found 3 places in the Tampa Bay area (if there are more, let me know!)- I felt like “Goldie Locks & the 3 Bears Arepas” – one place the arepa was too hard, one the arepa was too soft- but Nico’s…Nico’s was just right! We had a winner!

    Nico’s Arepas Grill is an authentic Venezuelan restaurant that has a wide variety of items but their speciality is the almighty arepa. For first timers I would reccomend trying the sampler (below) as it gives you a bit of everything.

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    All of these items are fantastic. It comes with tequenos- cheese wrapped in dough (think mozzarella stick meets Pillsbury dough boy- but better!), mini arepas, empanadas, and last but not least CACHAPAS- eating them is even more fun than saying “cachapa!”  (whenever I say it my shoulders do a little dance from left to right to left 🙂 They are sweet corn cakes with salty cheese- SO MUCH YES! The combination of the sweetness from the corn cakes and the saltiness of the cheese is a match made in heaven.

     

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    Cachapa!
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    Mini Arepa

    If you thought the mini arepa looked incredible, wait until you see a full sized one. I, myself, love sweet & salty so I decided to get an arepa with shredded beef, plantains, avocado, cheese, and black beans. I then add some of Nico’s garlic & cilantro relish sauces and BAM…magic happens…IMG_20170422_174013_998

    The arepa is almost as big as the size of my head and i’m not gonna lie, I have a big head (#bornthisway)! The taste is exquisite! Each ingredient compliments another. It’s one of those foods that’s so scrumptious but huge so i’m having an internal (and external) struggle while eating it because my bodies like “slow your roll woman! There’s no more room!” but my taste buds are like “KEEP EATING! YOU CAN DO IT” and Bae’s all like “boo, you’re going to get sick, get a box!” SO MANY EMOTIONS but ultimately my body won- I got a to-go box. If you can eat a whole arepa, you should win a t-shirt or something because that’s impressive!

    Nico’s is truly one of a kind- so far everything I’ve had on the menu has been incredible and there is also a lot more I want to try. We go at least once a month. They also have a food truck & do catering. If only we would have known about Nico’s when we got married 😦 :sigh: It’s also great too because I can try my Spanish out 🙂 “muy delicioso!”

    Bottom Line: Hands down, one of my FAVORITE places in Tampa, like top 5, no joke. If you like food- you will LOVE Nico’s Arepas Grill! I’ll see you there! 🙂

    xoxo,

    Tiffany

    Do you love arepas? Did you play the drinking game? Are you okay? What is your favorite arepa toppings? Let me know!

    donuts · food · tampa · travel

    eat: Jupiter Donut Company

    jupitersign

    • Jupiter Donut Company 32130 US Highway 19 N Palm Harbor, FL 34684
    • Cuisine: Sweets, Donuts
    • Price Range: $

    Who has 2 thumbs and is OBSESSED with donuts??? THIS GIRL! I’m serious, they are my weakness- my kryptonite. If I were a character on “Sesame Street” I would be the “Donut Monster”. Still don’t believe me? Okay, here’s an example: I was sick in January with the super flu and my boo tried  everything to get me out of bed.

    Chris: “Babe, want to go for a walk”? Me: “No, I can’t, i’m dying”. (#dramaqueen) / Chris: “Want to go to the movies?” Me: “I simply can’t move, my body huurts”/ Chris: “Want to get some ice cream?” Me: “Nooooo, I just cannn’t”. / Chris: “Want to get some donuts?” Me: :gets dressed at Superman speed, runs downstairs and gets into passengers seat of car all within a 3 minute timespan: “LETS GO NOW! I’M READY!”

    So yeah, I have #donutproblems. That all being said, I consider myself to be a donut connoisseur. Not all donuts are created equal! I’ve had my share of stale, frozen-pretending-to-be-fresh donuts- I know what made from scratch quality taste like and this place is legit! (warning: the images you are about to see will cause drooling, donut cravings, and salivating.)

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    Salted Caramel
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    Tooti Fruiti
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    Oreo

    Continue reading “eat: Jupiter Donut Company”

    food · tampa · travel

    eat: Ichicoro Ramen


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    • Ichicoro Ramen – 5229 N Florida Ave Tampa, FL 33603  
    • Cuisine: Japanese, Asian
    • Price Range: $$                                                   

    Our first stop on the “Tiffany Eats Tampa” train takes us to Ichicoro Ramen. If when you hear the word “ramen” you think of “Cup of Noodles” then you NEED to check this place out- for your mind will be BLOWN. Ichicoro makes everything from scratch, from their noodles, to their homemade broths. You can taste the freshness in the ingredients.

    Before I get ahead of myself, let me start with the vibe of this place. The word “hipster chic” comes to mind. Don’t let that turn you off- it’s a very cool, laid back atmosphere with a warm cozy feel. My ONLY complaint was that the tables are very close together(take that with a grain of salt as I suffer from self diagnosed social anxiety with a hint of germaphobia) but the food made up for that.

    Ichi3
    Top: Smoked Brisket Steam Bun: pickles, kimuchi-mustard, gochujang sauerkraut; Bottom: Karaage: marinated fried chicken, furikake, spicy garlic sauce.

    Continue reading “eat: Ichicoro Ramen”