Before the COVID-19 pandemic made like a phantasmagorical alien with a death ray and destroyed our ability to eat inside, I never paid much attention to takeout. My kids are grown so the OMG how-the-fuckk-am-I-gonna-find-the-energy-to-feed-these-little-humans is in the rear view mirror of my life. Until March 2020, if I wasn’t cooking, I was luxuriating in the embrace of Tampa Bay’s inspiring food culture and reporting to you weekly on the full experience of eating at Restaurant X.
Doormét (two locations)
681 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, 727-300-3636
1155 S. Dale Mabry Hwy no. 12., Tampa, 813-287-3667.
Appetizers $6 - $9; entrées $10 - $19; dessert $1 - $6
So please forgive me if Doormét (as in gourmet to your door) flew under my radar. The Tampa location has been around for over a decade, offering a “solution for those who want to eat well, but don’t have a lot of time.” And when St. Petersburg’s Amigos Tortilla Bar fell victim to the pandemic, Doormét snapped up the Central Avenue location to bring its takeout and delivery business model to the west side of the Bay.
Doormét offers eat-in with social distancing, but its menu and the whole operation is a well-oiled machine to serve the modern takeaway menu. Besides burgers, salads and fitness bowls, there’s a strong Italian influence with hand-tossed pizzas, pastas, and classics chicken dishes.
It’s lovely to start with made to order truffle mac 'n' cheese—an ample 12-oz. serving of “rich, creamy heaven.” The cap of thick cheese at first appears to be impenetrable, but once you break through and get a decadent bite, the truffle oil caresses your tongue rather than whopping you upside the head. It’s a wonderful ingredient when used in moderation as a grace note where it allows for balance in a dish.
Next, the freshly baked “breadsticks” are more like giant logs brushed with garlic butter and sprinkled with fresh rosemary and grated Parmesan. They’re so good that the hummus for dipping seems like an afterthought.
The Backyard Burger of certified Angus beef (cooked medium-well to avoid lawsuits)
is topped with crisp thick-cut cherrywood smoked bacon and Monterey Jack. The meat comes wrapped, thoughtfully, in foil for takeout. Then, you may place it on the separate homemade challah bun topped with ketchup, crisp lettuce, local tomato, and a sliver of red onion. It comes with delightful housemade, perfectly crisp, golden brown potato chips that are not the slightest bit greasy.
The hand-tossed pizza comes in 10-inch or 16-inch pies. I always opt for simple to address the main ingredients without being distracted by toppings. The thin crust has nice chew, and the housemade marinara provides clean acidity to balance the fat from the ample house cheese blend, which exhibits large, brown bubbles from a scorchingly hot oven. Doormét offer some intriguing topping combos, which almost lure me away from my touchstone, but I’m able to resist. Next time it’s no holds barred.
The non-pizza entrées all come in plastic clamshells with black bottoms and clear tops. They’re easy to open and perfectly serviceable as serving dishes for quick cleanup or for easy storage if you’re not hungry enough to join the “clean plate club.”
They offer four classic pasta dishes including shrimp scampi and linguine with meatballs. We settle on the roasted mushroom marsala sauce which clings to tubular rigatoni swimming with chunks of chicken, caramelized onions, wilted spinach and an umami hint of aged parmesan.
Saltimbocca is just marvelous, but I’m a sucker for the prosciutto and melted provolone that turns plain hand-breaded chicken medallions into a culinary supermodel. It would be scrumptious even without the accents of fresh shredded parmesan and garden basil. The al dente linguine swathed in roasted mushroom marsala sauce is divine. It’s an all-purpose chameleon that adds richness without all the dishes tasting alike. The main ingredients are allowed to soar.
For instance, Francesca tops crispy potatoes and sautéed green beans with grilled rosemary chicken medallions but the same marsala sauce simply unites the dish. It seems altogether different than the previous entrées.
The “fit ‘n healthy” perfectly grilled salmon fillet (a January special) almost preens on a bed of roasted veggie caponata and pearl-like Israeli couscous finished with fresh spinach and bruschetta tomatoes. A spritz of fresh lemon gives it a touch of brightness and a “kiss of lemon butter” enlivens the mouthfeel.
We finish with a couple of the freshly-baked cookies. Both the white chocolate macadamia and oatmeal raisin satisfy rather than wow, which is also true of the special dessert. Reese’s peanut butter pie in a chocolate cookie crumb crust finished with fresh vanilla cream is not overly sweet. My tasters give it a thumb’s up.
Doormét is a pleasant surprise, perfectly suited to pandemic takeout and delivery. You can order online with ease or by phone from the friendly and efficient staff. As we look forward into 2021, my crystal ball says takeout will still rule the day for many, many months. So stay on guard, wear your mask, prepare for the vaccine, and add some roasted mushroom Marsala sauce to your diet.
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