Festa Italiana: Ybor's Italian Festival in pictures




The food tents lined all of the outer walls of the festival and a few were dotted within as well, competing for space with the Italian Sportscar Exhibit, the live band and the kid's entertainment section.




Everything we tried was amazing. There's a reason why so many people were wearing shirts or aprons that said, "I'm not Fat... I'm Italian." If I were to eat this food every day, I'd be over 1000 pounds by fall. It was that good, and I wouldn't be able to stop myself.


Everything about this festival is about enjoying the taste and smells of Italy. Here you see lemonade and Italian ice being made by hand:



The lasagna from an authentic Italian catering company here in town. If they had a storefront, I would be there today. This lasagna was creamy on the inside with thick noodles and a wonderful meat sauce.


The another local catering company and restaurant, Pipos Cafe, served up this wonderful concoction of eggplant, onions and cheese.


I didn't know that Deep Fried Oreos originated in Italy ;)



Italian sports cars and Vespa scooters were a big crowd pleaser. If I was covered in cheese and sauce at this point, I would have gotten a closer look.





A grape stomping competition was held several times during the event.



Kara does her best sexy pose with a meatball sammich.



More delicious pizza treats fill the air with that awesome oven-baked smell.


Mystic Pizza was out giving out free samples and coupons to buy their frozen pizza at Sweetbay. Now that I've had it, I'm going to buy some this week. It was really good for frozen pizza.


The Columbia Restaurant, Ybor's oldest eatery, served up this amazing rice and chicken dish. Just a bit spicy with the rice to soak up the sauce. It was fantastic.


My favorite thing at the festival, the Italian Roast Beef sandwich. This peppers and beef combination, served floating in Au Jus sauce on a thick Italian bun was a belly busting piece of heaven. The sweetness of the peppers with the meat made me wish I had taken the whole stand with me. I can't recommend the guys at Wahl of a Time Catering for this awesome concoction.



Holy Connoli! This was the sweetest and crunchiest and all around tastiest connoli I've ever had. Kara happily gobbled down the bulk of it, as it was actually too sweet for me to eat more than a few bites.


Even now as I recount everything we ate, I feel full again. I'm excited for the 2010 Italian Festival next year!

Denis Baldwin can be found slothing his way around town at his own site, MyTampaLife.com.

As a fat kid, I have a certain spidy-sense about delicious food, particularly when several streets are blocked off in the celebration of it. You don't get much more delicious than Italian cuisine, and when I heard about the Ybor City Festa Italiana, I knew I had a carbohy-date with destiny.

We arrived around noon and the streets were packed. I actually made a very wise move in parking 8 blocks away from the nearest gate, both to save on parking (only $4!) and because the walk both there and back was necessary. If I hadn't walked, I would have carbed myself right into a food coma before making it home.

When you walk in the main gate, you have the option to buy tickets in packs of 25 or 55. I opted for the 55 tickets for $25, as I knew from the smell in the air that I would kick myself if I didn't indulge in every possible fat-kid fantasy here. The crowd was an insurmountable force at times, often forming little channels of traffic between people standing around eating and talking.

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