449 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Cost range: 20.01-100.00
Payment options: Credit cards accepted
Alcohol: Beer and wine only
More in this neighborhood: Downtown St. Petersburg
"Italian" is the kind of description that can get you into trouble, encompassing dozens of cuisines as it does. David Benstock's version is not fancy Northern Italian cream sauces, nor Sicily's big ol' bowls of meatballs. What he's doing is sensible portions at moderate prices (precisely halfway between Carrabba's and Donatello), relying as often as possible on local products and plating dishes attractively and rigorously. They make their own crisp-topped focaccia and little salt-flecked ciabatta rolls, served on a stylish swath of black slate with a jewel-green basil oil. They make all their pastas and have a ton of their andouille, pancetta and guanciale. And housemade desserts are booming, from a coconut cake accessorized by candied local kumquat, toasted coconut and a quenelle of tangerine gelato, to a trio of tiny lemon panna cottas with a pool of lemon curd, strawberry coulis and fresh strawberries.
Hours: 5-10 p.m. Mon.-Thur., until midnight Fri. and Sat.
Read a review here.