Best of the Bay Readers' Poll 2011: Who's winning?

Best Italian Restaurant: Right now it's a tossup between two restaurants on either side of the bay whose names are very similar to one another. Can anyone get pasta them?

Best Gym. Very close race — who will muscle in and win? (And the battle for Best Personal Trainer is just as close — we may just have to make the contenders arm wrestle for the title.)

Best Bizarro Local News Story. Florida never fails to provide plenty of fodder for this category, and this year was no exception. And while a few stories are all too familiar, our ever resourceful readers still came up with surprises. Not to spoil any of them, but "The Lakeland Chickens"? "Zephyrhills naked cowboy"? Maybe they won't win, but we do want to know more.

Have you voted in this year's Best of the Bay Readers' Poll? If not, you'd better hurry: The poll closes at 4 a.m. 12:59 p.m. on Wed. Aug. 31. The tally so far has already broken records, and with less than seven days to go, we're expecting all of the races to go right down to the wire.

Here's some hints on where things stand:

Best City: Tampa, St. Pete or Clearwater? We added this new category thanks to a staffer who's a passionate advocate for his side of the Bay, and it's turned into one of the biggest vote-getters ever. While some voters want to think more holistically ("Aren't they just one big city that doesn't want to admit it?") and others are rejecting the three cities altogether and suggesting alternatives — "Temple Terrace (and no, that's not the same as Tampa - waaaaaaay different)" — we are seeing a fierce fight that at this point any of the three could win.

Worst Local Politician: For years, one public servant has had a lock on this category. She's once again showing strength, but this year she faces a competitor who may have out-worsted her.

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