Dining Guide

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Sushi on Seventh, 1919 E. Seventh Ave. (813-247-8744). Leave the tatami mats at home. There's nothing traditional about the neon atmosphere of this Ybor City sushi bar. Browse through a large menu of sushi rolls with names like Screaming Orgasm, salmon rolled in seaweed with shrimp, crab, cream cheese, asparagus, avocado, scallions and smelt roe, topped with Japanese mayo and baked or try the Tampa roll, breaded grouper, cucumber and spicy mayo rolled in seaweed, topped with smelt roe and sesame seeds. $$

Tampa Bay Brewing Co., 1812 N. 15th St. (813-247-1422). One of the best microbreweries in the Tampa Bay area is also one of the best restaurants. Choose from good-quality pub grub like huge sandwiches or crusty pizzas (there's ale in the dough). For dinner entrees, choose from regular menu offerings like savory roasted prime rib, shrimp pasta with Creole seasonings and bronzed salmon flavored with ale or explore the daily specials for beer-infused New American cuisine like duck breast risotto with a sauce of cask stout-balsamic reduction. Sandwiches range from $5.95 to $7.95. Entrees range from $6.95 to $15.95. Open seven days a week. $$

PINELLAS

Clearwater

Bunny Hop Cafe & Nature's Food Patch, 1225 Cleveland St. (727-443-6703). If you're craving fresh, healthy foods, try this combination of natural foods market, deli and cafe. Graze at the 50-item salad bar, order a sandwich on fresh-baked bread or a smoothie made with just-squeezed juices, or pick from the deli's huge selection of good, and good-for-you foods to go. Choose individual entrees like fresh sushi, tofu "egg" salad sandwiches and free-range turkey breast sandwiches, or complete dinners like teriyaki tofu with brown rice and mixed veggies, or lentil loaf with mushroom gravy, garlic mashed potatoes and mixed veggies. Complete dinners average $5 to $6. $$

Caramba's Restaurante Mexicano, 1842 Drew St. (727-446-7469). There's a new menu and it's better than ever. This former Best of the Bay recipient features Mexican cuisine at its authentic best. On arrival, one should immediately turn to the pescados y mariscos portion of the menu and order one or more of their awesome fresh fish creations. Grouper a la Veracruzano, a traditional favorite, is done in true Mexican style. $$

Fred's Famous Bar-B-Que, 2257 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd. (727-799-FRED). Fred really does have a whole slew of national and international awards, but the best testimony to his barbecue is the crowd of neighbors who pack this place nightly, chowing down on meaty, fall-off-the-bone pork ribs, grilled or smoked chicken, smoked brisket, sausage and corned beef. Sauces are sweet, but overall, flavors are spicy. Be sure and try extra-thick milkshakes. Dinners start at $7.50. $$

Jillian's Bistro & Piano Bar, 13575 58th St. N., in the Icot Center Summit Building (727-538-7776). You work hard. Reward yourself at Jillian's, where diners are spoiled with rich, intensely-flavored cuisine served in casually elegant, but romantically delicious surroundings. Must-haves are the Bay area's best filet mignon, crispy, spicy Szechwan duck and herb-rubbed rack of lamb, or you can just make a meal from fabulous appetizers, like venison tenderloin, sealed seared scallops, or tuna carpaccio. $$$

Yanny's, 1258 Highland Ave. S. (727-446-5797). Recommended for breakfast/brunch. Yanny's has fresh-squeezed fruit or vegetable juices, scrumptious three-egg omelets, old-fashioned pancakes, or the famous French toast, dipped in a crepe batter and dusted with powdered sugar. Be sure and try a cup of homemade yogurt, the freshest, healthiest, most delicious live-culture, whole-milk yogurt you'll ever taste. Closed Mondays. $

North Clearwater/Countryside

G. Bellini's, 2544 McMullen-Booth Road (727-724-5716). Clearwater folks like this Italian bistro's individual-size, very thin-crust pizzas baked in a brick oven, tasty pasta dishes and entrees like grilled jumbo pork chops seasoned with rosemary and olive oil. Be sure and try fresh Florida grouper, breaded and baked, then bathed in lobster cream sauce. Full dinner entrees include fresh focaccia and salads, and range from $10.95 to $26.95. $$

Joto Japanese Restaurant, 2549 Countryside Blvd., Clearwater (727-796-2022) and 310 S. Dale Mabry, Tampa (813-875-4842). Belly up to the sushi bar or grab a seat on the floor while a kimono-clad waitress serves traditional Japanese dishes. Try the special sushi and sashimi platters. $$

Pulcinella Ristorante, 2475-E McMullen-Booth Road (in the Oakbrook Plaza) (727-669-9512). If you've ever visited Italy, you'll feel right at home with Chef Carmine's exquisite, authentic Italian menu prepared with the finest imported ingredients. You must try fresh arugula with olive oil and paper-thin slices of bresaola, an incredibly delicate, slightly nutty beef, cured prosciutto style. Then sample pastas to make you swoon, like rigatoni with fresh, imported porcini and very expensive white truffle oil, or the rigatoni al Amatriciana, pasta in fresh tomato sauce flavored with basil, onion and bacon. Entrees from $9 to $14 offer incredible quality at bargain prices. $$

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