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Just about everyone knows someone who has been bullied, in ways big and small. Understandably, though, many victims are reluctant to speak about their experiences. We found some who aren't.
BY WILLIAM HARVEY, King High
tb-two* begins an occasional series today taking a look at some long-standing restaurants around Tampa Bay, ones that have some history but that you may not know about. These are restaurants that are older than you, the kind that your parents went to after football games and movies when they were in high school. But because that older generation is well, old, they may have forgotten to tell you about these eateries that are definitely worth a visit.
Brocato’s Sandwich Shop
5021 E Columbus Drive, Tampa
Hours: Mon. - Fri.
7:30 a.m.-6 p.m.
Sat. 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Brocato’s Sandwich Shop is still serving the same assortment of sandwiches it did 64 years ago. The small, slightly cramped dining room has only half a dozen of tables, but allows you to see patrons order and workers build the sandwiches. An outdoor eating area offers additional seating for the claustrophobic.
What gives Brocato’s its homey atmosphere are the portraits and trophies that cover nearly every inch of the wall, recounting moments of the Brocato family’s history. Portraits of grandma and grandpa Brocato hang next to photos of younger crew members who now staff the kitchen, acting as a three-dimensional scrapbook of Tampa’s development.
Proof of the American dream, Brocato’s was founded as a small grocery store by Sicilian immigrants Manuel and Katie Brocato in 1948. After evolving from meat market to full-fledged sandwich shop, Brocato’s became a Tampa landmark, thanks to its Cuban sandwich and Aunt Nina’s Devil Crab. Even a car crash through the building couldn’t dent the icon’s success. There’s a picture of the accident on the side of the shop.
Being a historic restaurant means nothing if the food is subpar. Fortunately, that’s not the case with Brocato’s. The Cuban ($10.99) stands out as one of the best in Tampa, due to its large size and hefty portions of tasty meat and veggies. While more expensive than your typical $5 fast-food footlong, it’s a much better deal, weighing in at around 1 pound, 13 ounces and packed so dense that only a particle smasher could separate all of its layers. It’s an excellent choice to share among two or three people. However, the Cuban isn’t the only item on the menu that dwarfs your typical lunch — almost every dish is served in large portions.
The stuffed potato ($6.49), packed with ground beef picadillo, has a circumference of 13 1/2 inches, larger than a grapefruit. Despite the size, the empanada ($4.99) disappoints by using a filling identical to that of the stuffed potato. Something to be mentioned is that unlike some Spanish restaurants, no dish tastes oversalted. Most portions are generous and well-priced; sandwiches come with a huge refillable drink and bag of chips.
As a testament to the quality, I saw an 18-wheeler laboriously maneuver back and forth across the parking lot for five minutes to secure a space. The rig driver, Regimond Bouie, bought a Cuban and a cup of coffee.
“It is a very good sandwich, best I’ve ever had,” Bouie said. “I’ve been coming for years.”
Olde World Cheese Shop
11001 N 56th St.,
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 8-5; Sat. 10-4
A little more off the weathered but not beaten path than Brocato’s is the Olde World Cheese Shop. However, don’t let the name throw you off; it’s not a ritzy grocery store and it doesn’t sell cheese — that is, without bread or meat.
When it first opened, the Olde World Cheese Shop was a small sandwich place that sported a special refrigerated section with premier wine and specialty cheeses. More than 30 years later, it has dropped the emphasis on the cheese but kept the name and turned its attention to fine-tuning sandwiches.
Olde World Cheese Shop didn’t earn the “olde” in its name from age; the restaurant has a Fantasyland theme, with menu items named after Tinker Bell and Maid Marian. While the woven baskets hanging from the ceiling are a bit tacky, the Olde World Cheese Shop still has a charming atmosphere, like that same new-business smell it had three decades ago. Also notable is that the restaurant has plenty of open tables in the large dining area. The majority of orders are takeout, so it makes for an excellent study spot or group project meet-up.
While the prices may seem a bit out of reach for the fledgling knight, they’re usually worth every ounce of silver they cost due to the use of gourmet cheeses and meats. The Sheriff of Nottingham BLT ($6.75) looms over competing footlongs like a fortified castle, with five layers of bread and filling. Cut this behemoth into four, and each quarter is more than enough sandwich and a challenge to fit all five layers into your mouth for a bite.
The embarrassment of ordering a Tink the Tinker ($6.75) is worthwhile once you tackle its thick layers of ham and bacon, tastefully accented by a zingy sauce.
Some sandwiches, however, suffer from sauce overload. The olive salad sauce on the Muffeletta ($6.75) is a salty-sweet treat for the taste buds, but too liquidy for a sandwich. What was a hard bread roll at first bite is much more like a soupy bread bowl on your third. This reviewer recommends you ask for the sauce on the side, or at least a lighter portion.
Vegetarians will enjoy the salad options and two veggie-exclusive sandwiches; meat fanatics will appreciate the ability to add bacon for a dollar.
For the cavalier looking to slay the hungry dragon within, the Olde World Cheese Shop may be just the olde Excalibur that’s needed.