‘ THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS’
The Westshore/Tampa airport area is often thought of as being a cross road of the world, which, literally bridges Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. It also serves as the Gateway to the Tampa area for millions of visitors who arrive by plane at Tampa’s International airport. How fitting that it is also the location for Italiasia, a unique restaurant, whose menu offers delicious and artfully prepared cuisine, representative of both the Italian and Asian cultures. Perhaps, we have Marco Polo to thank for the original concept. Actually, the concept came from restaurant rich, Chicago. Chicagoans know good food. Chicago’s list of renowned Chefs is impressive from Charlie Trotter to Skip Bayless. There is no shortage of wonderful eateries in the Windy City, and one can see why Italiasia was such a hit in that cosmopolitan Midwestern metroplolis. ItalIasia is creative, original and the food is delicious! How ironic that a Midwest company designed, created and developed this sensational restaurant concept where “East meets West”. The dress is business casual.
Some may call it “fusion” cuisine, however so many of its traditional menu items stand on their own merits that I would prefer to call it a diverse selection of both traditional and cross-cultural appetizers, entrees and desserts.
The eclectic menu offers traditional Italian and Asian appetizers, such as Calamari ($8) served with a trio of three sauces, sure to please different palates, and Chicken Satay ($8), as well as an Antipasto Plate($10) and Spring Rolls ($8), however just for fun and a real palate please, don’t miss the Deconstructed Seafood Rangoon($12), a combination of shrimp, scallops, lobster, Chives, Chestnut, ginger, garlic cream cheese and sweet and sour sauce, served on a fresh, light and flakey spring roll shell. The chunks of seafood are generously portioned on top of the Rangoon in a light, creamy sauce.
Three selections of soup are offered both by the cup and bowl. Health conscientious patrons and soup lovers should try the Tuscan White Bean Soup ($4-$6). It is thick, nutritious and the white bean puree’ is prepared with Pancetta ham and truffle oil. It’s unique blend of flavors and somewhat thick texture could suffice for meal on its own.
There is a wide array of Pizzas and salads, which may be enhanced with chicken, shrimp or steak. All made with fresh ingredients and reasonably priced.
Lunch patrons may select from a variety of sandwiches and plated meals. There are smaller portions offered for lighter diners or those on limited budgets. A popular lunch entrée’ is Chicken Milanese($10-$14),Panko encrusted organic chicken breast, Indonesian curried Udon noodles.bok choy,Napa cabbage, fresh bean sprouts ,Shitake mushrooms, toasted pine nuts and fresh lime.
Dinner is served from 5PM to 10PM. Lighter eater s do not have to sacrifice taste for healthy selections. Weight and health conscientious diners might want to go with the deliciously prepared Miso Glazed Salmon ($20), which is pan roasted to perfection, with a Miso glaze. It is served with stir fry Asian vegetables, soy misran broth and Undo noodles. Poultry lovers will enjoy the moist, Chicken Vesuio ($18), a split roasted chicken, with white wine, lemon, garlic, fresh oregano, peas and oven roasted potato wedges. The house favorite is Lobster Risotto Fra Diavlo ($24), it features rich, creamy Arborio rice, infused with Sake wine and thick chunks of succulent Maine lobster, San Marzano tomatoes, red chili flakes and fine herbs. I rarely order risotto in a restaurant and prefer to make it at home. It is a traditional Italian dish and too often it is dry when prepared in a commercial kitchen that is turning a lot of plates each night. Not here! My risotto was heavenly and prepared just as it should be, rich, creamy and mouth-watering. Don’t miss this!
Dinner items include a selection of pasta, poultry, beef and seafood. One may choose from seared tuna to a New York Steak.
Save some room for dessert. There is Ricotta cheesecake, enhanced in a Amaretto and almond crust, fresh berries and almond biscotti Tuile, as well as a Tropical Mousse cake and Crème Brule and a Spumoni wedge, however the star of Italiasia’s dessert menu is the Wonton Cannoli ($6), fried flaky Won Tons layered with sweet ricotta cheese, sugar, chocolate chips, pistachio nuts and milk chocolate sauce.
There is a wide international selection of delicious and reasonable priced wines, offered both by the bottle and glass as well as a full service bar.
Italiasia is located in the Doubletree Hotel, 4500 West Cypress St. Tampa,Fl. 33607 For reservations or more information call (813) 998-2265. Visit them at www.ItaliAsia.com
Highly Recommend It!