-1 Snap! Won't go back
Always looking for something new, Cheezy's in Ybor sounded like an adventure. It's not only an Italian bistro, it also claims to be a speakeasy. That part was intriguing.
Challenges start with reservations. They do not answer the phone but voicemail directs us to an online reservation form that we fill out with the anticipation that they will get back to us. They never do. We go anyway and the place- at 7:30- is empty but for one other party and a couple at the bar.
Opened in the former Ybor City Social Club the interior has a nice Ybor-esque raw-brick-wall finish with Italian flag colored cushy booths and pop music playing at a decent volume. The menu of most things Italian is overstuffed. There is a section for 10 starters, another section for 6 appetizers, and still another for 8 special appetizers. That was just for...well...starters. Then on to Paninis, specialty pastas, create your own pastas, and a selection of sauces. There's a section for special entrees and a separate pizza and dessert menu. I could go on, but I think the wisdom here would be to cull the menu and do a few things really well! It's a one-chef shop for goodness sake. Larger restaurants refine and perfect.
First things first we start with the drink menu. Being a warm evening a Shh.. It's Just Lemonade ($9.95) sounds delightful and just right for a speakeasy. But the name pretty much says it all. While it is supposed to be spiked lemonade, there's no real hint of alcohol and the lemon could use some aid.
Food wise we begin with an Italian classic, Bruschetta ($7.95). The diced tomatoes are tossed in garlic and olive oil and are fresh and flavorful. The balsamic reduction drizzle compliments and adds some sweetness. But the whole thing is served on piece of untoasted pita bread. Our server calls it focaccia when we inquire, but it has neither the look, thickness, nor texture. It was pita. The menu says the bruschetta is served on crostinis as one might expect. It wasn't.
Lobster Ravioli ($16.95) is a special this eve, but is also a standard menu item. The dish arrives smothered in a thick red sauce. The pockets of locally made pasta are over cooked and mushy. The filling has a mild lobster flavor that barely shows up as it is overwhelmed by the red pepper heat in the sauce. The dish might better be called Lobster Ravioli Fra Diavolo.
We order the build-your-own Gnocchi ($14.95) with bruschetta sauce (one of eight options for sauce), spinach ($.99 add on) and chicken (an additional $4.95). The dish is starchy, beyond what one might expect from the potato/soft dough dumpling, but the sauce has the same flavorful tomato wedges as on the pita. The kitchen forgets the spinach but my table mate chooses not to send it back. They put it on the check anyway and remove it upon request.
Service was friendly and respectfully attentive. The chef checks on our table twice.
The Speakeasy downstairs was designed and opened as a place for VIPs replete with a secret door. It is not open to the public- indeterminable given the name of the place- even further stunting my intrigue. It is used for private parties only.
I don't take giving low ratings lightly. I understand that even though I am a Podunk restaurant reviewer, I am still talking about someone's livelihood. But in instances like Cheezy's, where the prices are so high and the quality so low, it's just a reality. Even though there is potential here, the $64 check after the meal answers my question. Not going back.
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