Donatello (Tampa)

Donatello on Urbanspoon

Day of the Week: Thursday, 2/28
Total Bill: $189.02 (before tip)
Breakdown: 3 starters , 2 entrees, 2 desserts, 1 cappuccino, 3 glasses of wine
Verdict: We have an almost irrational affection for Donatello and think you should, too.

She says:
Hubby wanted to go to dinner Thursday night but couldn’t decide where. I suggested Domani Bistro Lounge because we’ve never been there (and I have a Groupon for it) but Hubby decided he’d rather go to Donatello, which was TOTALLY fine with me because I love Donatello (I just know it’s pricy, and Hubby was buying dinner). As you may remember, we wrote a review of Donatello after visiting in October; we wouldn’t usually write another review so soon but this time we ate in the dining room (last time we ate in the bar), so it was a good excuse to tell you about our awesome meal.

We arrived about 8 PM and headed to the bar first, as that’s where we planned to eat dinner. There was a duet playing, so the bar was a little loud for us. But the main reason we moved to the dining room is that the bartender just didn’t seem interested in us once she made our drinks. The other patrons in the bar must have been her regulars because she was spending quite a bit of time with them. So I paid our tab and we got up to get a table.

We had hardly gotten to the host’s stand when a man said, “Right this way, I have the perfect table for you, very romantic” and took us to a very nice booth. Another server quickly came with water and a basket of Donatello’s fantastic bread. We hadn’t been seated long when the owner came by to say hello (and tell me I’m “bella” and give me a kiss on the forehead – I love him).

Hubby has been obsessing over their prosciutto di parma con melone (two large wedges of cantaloupe with a generous serving of prosciutto, $18.95), so he ordered that as his starter. Hubby says it’s the best prosciutto he’s ever had and I agree. It’s not as stringy as other prosciutto. Their cantaloupe is always fantastically fresh and sweet (Hubby doesn’t like cantaloupe any other time or place). After the prosciutto, he tried their tortellini in brodo di polla soup (tortellini in chicken broth, $15.95). The homemade tortellini, stuffed with ham and sausage, were fantastic. The chicken broth was fresh and also homemade.

I started with their capriccio (house) salad, $10.95, because I didn’t want to fill up on starters before my pasta. The salad was phenomenal. The lettuce was fresh and crisp, and their house dressing (an oil and vinegar base with lemon juice and other awesome things) was delicious. Bern’s has always had my favorite salad but Donatello’s is now a very a close second.

For my main, I had the tagliatelle alla Kathy (“Home-made green noodles with cream, mushrooms, imported Italian ham and a touch of tomato,” $26.95). I’m not sure what to say about my pasta other than it was fantastic. The pasta was great, the sauce was great, all the flavors were perfect together…it was just really, really good. Hubby had the linguine al granchio (“Linguini with jumbo crab meat in a white wine or tomato sauce,” $37.95) with the white wine sauce, which is the other thing he’s been obsessing over (Hubby doesn’t even like pasta that much). He ate all of it, didn’t say much, and didn’t offer me a bite, so I’m going to interpret that as it was delicious and he loved it.

With dinner, I had a glass of Alamos malbec ($12) and Hubby had Acacia chardonnay ($12.50). I highly recommend the Alamos malbec with the richer pasta dishes. It was fresh and fruity without being jammy (which I don’t like), had a light mouthfeel, and was well-balanced. Acacia is one of Hubby’s go-to chardonnays. (Before we were craft beer nuts, we were amateur oenophiles, especially Hubby.)

For dessert, I ordered the tiramisu ($11.95). Hubby wanted two desserts (ricotta cheesecake and the napoleon), so the server brought him two smaller pieces but just charged us for one ($11.95), which was so nice and an excellent example of Donatello’s accommodating service. All of the desserts were sublime. The tiramisu passed my big test: the lady fingers were not soggy! The ricotta cheesecake is just beyond words (and I’m not even a cheesecake fan). The napoleon is so light and fluffy and scrumptious, you want to dive into it and swim around. I also had a cappuccino ($5), which I never drink at “coffee shops” (they get it sooooo wrong) but often order at dinner. Donatello makes one of the best I’ve ever had.

Throughout our meal we had at least three servers taking care of us, and they more than made up for the shaky start in the bar. They were attentive and professional, never intrusive or overwhelming. We felt pampered. As we were paying, they were starting to clear the dining room. One of the servers came by, plucked the two lovely dark pink roses out of the vase on our table, and handed them to me saying, “You are the last lady left, so you get two roses.” (Those roses lasted a solid four days!)

On our way out, we saw the owner again. He shook our hands and gave me a kiss on the cheek. (DID I MENTION I LOVE HIM?!)

If I had to summarize Donatello in one word, I would say “genuine.” This restaurant is not putting on any airs. It’s a family restaurant that has old school ideas about food and service. And sometimes the world could use a little “old school”! Everything is so trendy and hip nowadays – and transient. But making food from scratch and treating your customers like they matter will never go out of style. This is what Donatello does best.

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About twofoodiesinlove

About the couple: We are thirtysomethings. We’ve known each other since 2001 when we were in college together and we got married in 2009. About the wife: She’s been an accountant since 2004 and loves numbers maybe a little too much. She eats and cooks and bakes and drinks and constantly has to watch her weight because of it. About the husband: He’s a government employee… for 9 years… he likes nice people who don’t talk too much and FOOD!!! He’s a fatty who loves beer, wine and clear spirits. He likes to cook, usually stuff that is too hard for him but usually turns out well. he tries to watch his weight as it goes by at the speed of light but can’t seem to see it… oh and he loves the Wifey. she rocks.
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