By Laura Reiley
Times Food Critic
We dine out for different reasons. Sometimes it's our evening's entertainment: We go to be wowed. Sometimes it's a neutral backdrop for convivial or even momentous conversation. And sometimes we just need to be fed, to be quietly nurtured without a lot of fuss. It's Tuesday night, I'm glad someone else is doing the dishes, and sure, I'll have a second glass of wine.
Dominic's Italian Grille fulfills this last. It's a casual, pleasant purveyor of thin-crust pizzas and big plates of pasta, presided over by Dominic Parisi, 36, and his family.His dad, Gerald Tanso, deals with the financial side, while his mom, Susan Tanso, and wife, Jennifer Parisi, tend to the hospitality, front-of-the-house business. Brother Thomas Parisi did the mural at the front, and sister Rachel Tanso designed the Web site. Dominic is a graduate of Johnson & Wales, so he has got chops in the kitchen.
The menu is mostly familiar Italian, with some American pit stops: to New England for littlenecks steamed in white wine ($8.25), to St. Louis for some toasted ravioli ($6.25, deep-fried, ricotta-filled and served with marinara) and over to Philly for a respectable cheesesteak ($7.25).
Pizza is the star of the show, offered in a 14-inch medium and 18-inch large. It's a good crust recipe, crisp and tooth resistant, with enough oven heat to yield those black bubbles. Toppings go simple (margherita, $12 and $14), sophisticated (white, with grilled chicken and ricotta, $14.50, $16.50) or kitchen-sink (six toppings, $15, $17). Kids can order a single slice if so inclined.
I sampled the Caesar ($3), Greek ($8.25) and caprese ($8) salads — all fine efforts, amply sized, with nice ingredients and punchy dressings.
Scampi ($15.25) brings a generous number of shrimp steeped in garlic butter and lemon resting atop a mound of linguine; homey and filling, eggplant parmesan ($13.25) gets it right with the breading, piquant tomato sauce and a mantle of molten mozzarella.
Wine and beer selections provide some well-priced stalwarts; servers zip around efficiently but are happy to stop and chat.
Add to that a dessert tray with a rich Italian cream cake ($4.75) and lots of chocolate-covered ice cream options, and it's a mighty fine Tuesday night indeed.
Laura Reiley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 892-2293. Her blog, the Mouth of Tampa Bay, can be found at www.blogs.tampabay.com/dining. Reiley dines anonymously and unannounced. The Times pays all expenses. Advertising has nothing to do with selection for review or the assessment.