BEST RESTAURANT

Pelagia Trattoria

click to enlarge Chef Fabrizio Schenardi of Pelagia Trattoria. - Photo by Brian Ries
Photo by Brian Ries
Chef Fabrizio Schenardi of Pelagia Trattoria.

Yes, it’s in a hotel. And yes, that hotel happens to be attached to a giant shopping mall. But despite the locale, there’s no escaping the fact that for years Pelagia Trattoria has been one of the most consistent and excellent dining spots in the Bay area. Much of that is owed to chef Fabrizio Schenardi, who brings to the restaurant a Mediterranean sensibility that fits Florida’s climate and style better than any home-grown cuisine. His touch is subtle, shown in the many plates that are merely clever arrays of simple but stellar ingredients like teasers of cheese and honeycomb, or grilled romaine leaves with a dip of decadent Caesar dressing. He’s devoted to seafood, usually with sauces that extract maximum flavor from a few fresh ingredients. And with meat, Schenardi is inclined to homey, hearty dishes that evoke the distinct comfort most feel when confronted with a slab of protein. There are also many more benefits to being in a hotel than you might think. Pelagia serves breakfast and lunch, as well as dinner. And any food ordered in the hotel, from room service to banquet rooms, comes from the Pelagia kitchen, controlled by Schenardi. Earlier this year, the Italian chef told CL that many American restaurateurs “seem to need so many ingredients to make flavor.” Then, his face in a trademark grin, he remarked “all you need are a few things, then the flavor comes.” For you, Fabrizio, it does. 4200 Jim Walter Blvd., Tampa, 813-313-3235. pelagiatrattoria.com

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