Neighborhood Dining Guide: Mall madness

Finding food among the holiday shopping chaos.

click to enlarge BRIO's grilled salmon with citrus pesto and asparagus is a welcome respite from holiday mall madness. - BRIO Tuscan Grille
BRIO Tuscan Grille
BRIO's grilled salmon with citrus pesto and asparagus is a welcome respite from holiday mall madness.

After a busy day of holiday shopping, or a particularly exhausting shopping experience, the last thing you want to do is hunt for a dining destination to refuel. This guide has you covered, and takes care of that hunt for you.

900 DEGREES WOODFIRED PIZZA The Shops at Wiregrass, Wesley Chapel, 813-527-6940, 900degreeswoodfirepizza.com. The pizza is certified by the Verace Pizza Napoletana Association for authentic Neapolitan pizza, and made from flour and tomatoes imported from Italy. It's cooked in a 900-degree wood-burning oven that the restaurant is named after. Try Pizza with Zucchini for an ultimate Italian experience, or grab it by the slice.

AJA The Shops at Wiregrass, Wesley Chapel, 813-994-0002, ajawiregrass.com. Dine, drink or dance at this destination. Appetizers, salads, paninis and pizzas are available, as well as entrees for the health-conscious, and hand-crafted specialty cocktails and martinis. For a decadent, dessert-like drink, try Aja Sundae. Daily Happy Hour specials and valet parking are available. Enjoy the décor of glass mosaics, onyx bars and pendent lamps, created by architect Robert Ibarra.

BAR LOUIE Bay Street at International Plaza, 2223 N. Westshore Blvd., Tampa, 813-874-1919, barlouieamerica.com. Awarded "Concept of Tomorrow" by Restaurant Hospitality magazine, this bar and restaurant oozes casual-cool. Picture buffs will enjoy the contemporary photography adorning the wood-paneled walls. Catch the game, courtesy of plasma televisions, and enjoy Sunday specials like 20-ounce domestics for $3. Also try the "Caffeinator" for a buzz and a jolt, or (superstitious?) the Voodoo chicken with "voodoo sauce." Or splurge on Tennessee Whiskey Cake, but only if you're 21 or above (seriously, the menu says so).

BRIO TUSCAN GRILLE Bay Street at International Plaza, 813-877-3939, brioitalian.com. Enjoy this "Tuscan country villa" in the heart of International Plaza. After a weekday shopping expedition, try the $2.95 Tuscan Taster Bar Menu, where you can enjoy selections such as spicy shrimp and eggplant, or a virgin cocktail for $2.95 each (offered Mon.-Fri. from 3-7 p.m. and 9 p.m.-Close). Bruch is offered on Saturday and Sunday.

CHAMPP'S Bay Street at International Plaza, 813-353-0200, champps.com. Established in Minneapolis 25 years ago, this sports bar provides a game day atmosphere every day of the week. Come hungry and enjoy BBQ Triple Play, featuring baby back ribs, chicken and pulled pork. The extensive menu also features a wide selection of sandwiches, burgers, pasta dishes, salads, desserts and cocktails.

GALLERY BISTRO Bay Street at International Plaza, 813-353-3838, thegallerybistro.com. Billed as "New American Cuisine," this destination serves a fusion of Southeast and classic American. If your shopping expedition nearly emptied your wallet, the vast selection of $6 to $9 lunch items is your best bet. There's something for everyone and every appetite, from the vegetarian menus, to the "petite and full" portions sizes. Two-for-one Happy Hour is available all day, and the restaurant features live music every Friday and Saturday night.

GRILLSMITH 459 Brandon Town Center Drive, Brandon, 813-651-1610; 2539 Countryside Blvd., Clearwater, 727-726-6061; 2000 Piazza Ave., Wesley Chapel, 813-907-1900, grillsmith.com. Visit this grill-inspired spot for a twist on traditional comfort food, including Caribbean pumpkin crab bisque and wild mushroom meatloaf with Yukon Gold mashed potatoes. For brunch, try the Tampa-inspired gasparilla Shrimp and grits.

LEE ROY SELMON'S 4302 W. Boy Scout Blvd., Tampa, 813-871-3287; 2424 Tyrone Blvd., St. Petersburg, 727-347-5774; 17508 Dona Michelle Drive, New Tampa, 813-977-3287, leeroyselmons.com. Named after the first Tampa Bay Buccaneer inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame, Lee Roy Selmon's legacy will remain alive in this popular sports bar. Try Baby Back Ribs, smothered in Mama Selmon's homemade barbeque sauce. Hot steam towels are handed out post-meal, which will help conclude your busy day of shopping on a refreshing high note.

MAGGIANO'S LITTLE ITALY 203 Westshore Plaza, Tampa, 813-288-9000, maggianos.com. Opentable.com's 2011 Diner's Choice Winner for award-winning Italian food, Maggiano's features seasonal patio seating that mimics the old-world atmosphere of Florence's lively streets. Family-style menu is available for parties of four or more. Try the Famous Rigatoni "D" pasta dish, with herb-roasted chicken, mushrooms and caramelized onions in a Marsala cream sauce.

MITCHELL'S FISH MARKET 204 Westshore Plaza, Tampa, 813-289-3663, mitchellsfishmarket.com. The menu boasts an impressive rotation of 80 seafood selections, and is printed twice daily. MSC Chain of Custody certification ensures the freshest seafood is being served, implementing documentation and DNA testing. Favorite menu items include the Fish Market Trio and Chesapeake Bay jumbo lump crab cakes. Meat and salad options are available for "turf" patrons.

PAGELLI'S ITALIANO 2001 Piazza Ave., Wesley Chapel, 813-991-1414, tampa.pagellis.com. This family-owned institution was established 30 years ago by the Pagelli family of Sicily. Interesting entrees, such as blackberry Tuscan chicken or cherry-smoked trout, are favorites, along with the new Tuscan Cobb artisan salad. Happy Hour runs all day, and a la carte Sunday brunch is another highlight.

PALM RESTAURANT 205 Westshore Plaza, Tampa 813-849-7256, thepalm.com/Tampa. Enjoy interesting wall décor of cartoons and caricatures of celebrity, politician and socialite customers, while afeasting on jumbo Nova Scotia lobsters or Chicken Parmigiana. Do not miss the $4.50 Prime Bites during PrimeTime at Palm Bar (hours vary). For every $250 purchased in gift cards, you will receive a bonus $50 gift card.

THE PUB TAMPA BAY Bay Street at International Plaza, 813-443-5642, experiencethepub.com/tampa-bay. Classic British pub fare like Shepherd's Pie, along with an impressive selection of American selections like sliders, sandwiches, salads and more. Enjoy weekly specials, such as half-price fish and chips on Monday Quiz Night, and create your own bloody mary" during Saturday and Sunday brunch.

RYUU JAPANESE STEAKHOUSE 773 Brandon Town Center Mall, Brandon, 813-438-5934, ryuujapanesesteakhouse.com. Gather around a teppanyaki table and choose from an extensive list of sushi rolls, sashimi and nigiri. Typhoon dinner for two features sirloin, chicken and shrimp, and includes soup, salad, noodle and shrimp appetizer, vegetables and fried rice (Mon.-Fri. after 5pm and all day Saturday and Sunday). Happy Hour is all day, every day, with daily drink specials served at an enormous bar spotlighted with an LED chandelier that changes colors.

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