-4 Snaps! Strongly recommended
With the onslaught of new restaurants in the bay area I try not to forget the old school Tampa restaurants. Many of them still serve good traditional food. While it is a high dollar place, Armani’s has consistently served excellent gourmet meals. One constant there is the antipasto bar. I don’t know of any other restaurants that still have one. Most of them have transitioned to charcuterie platters, to me a new iteration of this classic form of appetizer.
On my recent visit we ordered the chefs selection from the antipasto bar ($20.00). It consisted of a few aged cheeses, mussels, clams, olives, salami, shrimp with cocktail sauce, and some beef strips as well. It was a broad selection and a tasty combination. If you go, you are always free to choose your own which is what I may do next time.
The chef recently added Seared Duck ($45) with walnut pappardelle, cherry port jus, and toasted walnuts. The crispy duck breast was sliced and plated dominoes style making for a nice presentation. The cherry port jus was smeared on the plate like a brushstroke. It’s a trendy decoration in many restaurants but didn’t work here. First of all the smear went off the edge of the plate making for a very unattractive presentation. Plus, it completely dried out on the plate before I was able to taste it so it added nothing to the dish. Pappardelle, a pasta that looks like wide fettuccine, was cooked to a perfect al dente firmness and tossed with walnut oil. The accompanying toasted walnuts were awesome.
My table mate ordered The Mediterranean Sea Bass ($48) served on a bed of saffron lobster risotto, citrus Chardonnay cream, and topped with mixed asparagus salad. The fish was nicely done with a crispy skin but slightly too much coarse salt added. The lobster risotto and Chardonnay cream sauce carried the dish to the top. Firm chunks of lobster mixed in with the risotto topped with that creamy sauce was a palate pleaser!
To finish we ordered Polenta Cake ($7) served with a sweet cream gelato on top of pistachio brittle. The cake had the consistency of a firm cornbread and the gelato with pistachio brittle brought a world of flavors together.
I'd go back. Armani's is uber expensive and something I would only do for special occasions. It doesn't have a sexy new chic warehouse interior with craft beer on draft and trendy people don't trend here. But over the years it's has consistently offered top end food.
If you go, go early. Get there in time to sit in the lounge and watch the sunset. It's a spectacular view from 14 floors up!
I think most of us like to try new things and there are some awesome places popping up. The latest eateries and chefs have brought new dimensions of flavor, textures, and cooking techniques not seen before in the bay area. But I still like to honor my culinary roots. Armani's is like a comfortable pair of jeans, not the latest, not the newest, but nice (and delicious) to have!
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