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“A tense and confused experience”
Review of TJ's Italian Cafe

TJ's Italian Cafe
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $13 - $26
Cuisines: Italian, Seafood
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Large groups
Dining options: Lunch, Late Night, Breakfast, Dinner, Delivery, Reservations
Description: TJ's Italian Cafe Restaurant ~ Indian Rocks Beach Locals say, TJ's Italian Cafe combines a tranquil environment and good food with an emphasis on hospitality to make for the perfect place to recharge or unwind while indulging in a unique dining experience. Whether your on vacation or looking for a vacation from the everyday life, come dine with us today! Italian ~ Seafood ~ Pasta ~ Pizza We deliver 7days a week.
Reviewed March 12, 2012

We have been to TJ's twice. The place is very inviting as you drive by, enticing you to pull into the too small parking lot. The outside of the building is well kept. There is a large front porch for dining and everything inside is clean, with pleasant lighting.

Both times we have been to TJ's we sat at the bar. You can see over the serving counter into the kitchen from the bar. Because of this view, maybe if we had chosen to sit outside or in the main dining area we would have had a better experience.

The owner, TJ is a tyrant who does most of the cooking, along with a very frightened "chef" and other kitchen help. We could see through the serving window that the guy assisting TJ was so afraid of doing something wrong that he had soaked through his shirt with nervous perspiring. TJ was constantly yelling orders at staff and acting as though the place was packed, even though there weren't 10 customers at that time.

The wait staff, too numerous for a place twice this size, mostly stands around waiting for customers to arrive. The bartender, for some unknown reason, flies around the place with her hair on fire, unable to stay behind the bar because the front room needs waiting on??, even though there are 4 or 5 other girls standing around with nothing to do. So whoever sits at the bar is constantly waiting for service.

The first night we were there, the tense and confused environment, created by the owner, caused us to leave after a few drinks without ordering food...even though what food we saw all looked excellent.

After a month went by we decided to try it again. We again chose the bar, because that is where we like to sit in any place we try...and again we got the same experience.

The first thing we heard was TJ yelling out from the kitchen that they were out of some item, which was their special that night on the appetizer menu. This was at 5PM. There were at least 4 girls standing behind the bar with nothing to do. I would have expected TJ to yell out, "One of you run to the grocery store, (that is less than 5 minutes away) and get whatever we are out of...since it's early and we have plenty of time before the rush and most of you are standing around anyway".

This visit we were determined to forge ahead and try the food, after we first had a few drinks. Having a few drinks first, apparently confused the numerous wait staff because when we told them we only wanted to have a few drinks before eating, they wandered off without taking a drink order at all.

Eventually we got our drinks and then sat and watched the show. The overwhelming impression you get is that you could run this place so much better than it's being run now, even with no experience running a restaurant. You have to suppress the impulse to shout out the obvious. I also wanted to shout out to the assistant cook that he doesn't have to take the treatment he is receiving from the owner.

We did finally place an order for food. Our order arrived in a timely manner and it was excellent. But I don't think we will be back unless we get the urge to sit outside on the front porch and avoid seeing how the place is run.

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3  Thank aegwell
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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298 - 302 of 333 reviews

Reviewed March 2, 2012

You can't go wrong. Service and food very good as was the atmosphere.

Thank cinderolla
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 11, 2012

My German friend and I decided to just drive the beach road from Clearwater Beach south looking for a place to eat dinner on a Saturday night during prime dining time. Everywhere we had called was booked solid so we decided to gamble and go with the flow.

We drove by a lot of the places in Indian Rocks and then saw TJs porch. We didn't pay attention to what they were called or anything—it just looked inviting on a perfect weather night—it was in the low 70s still at 7:30-8:00 in early February—Perfect!!

We were delighted that there were tables on the porch and even moreso that there was a musician playing popular hits in classical guitar style. It was a lovely ambiance.

Our server was Kelly and she was awesome from the get-go. It was pleasantly surprising, as service in the Clearwater-St. Pete area is so hit or miss (usually miss) that good service is often a mind-blowing experience! LOL

We were impressed by the depth of their menu. My friend ordered one of the seafood pasta specials and I ordered the seafood pasta on the standard menu.

The food was excellent—the lobster, shrimp and scallops in my dish were cooked perfectly, the portions more than generous and Kelly continued to meet our every request and was appropriately attentive without being annoying or not coming around enough. I was actually rather surprised when the young hostess stopped by at one point later in our meal and asked us how we were doing with everything and if there was anything we needed.

I wish I had found TJ's at the beginning of my 10 day stay rather than the last night, as I would have definitely returned. It was a 10 all the way around. I look forward to returning when I end up back in the Clearwater Beach area to visit my friends.

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Thank Nemophilist
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 9, 2012

Ordered a pizza from TJ's while on vacation. They have great half off pizza deals if you order before 5:00 p.m. I ordered the White pizza. It was delicious!! The crust was perfect thin, but not too thin that it's floppy! It had the right amount of topping s as well.

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Thank OhioSmile
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 1, 2012

As a very picky critic of Italian food, find TJ's to be much better than average, especially for Italian outside of NY, (I know that comment may not go over well, but that's how I feel) Well worth the moderate prices! The chicken in cognac sauce and the chicken Marsala are absolutely yummy. The pizza is delicious-crisp and crusty with an excellent homemade tasting sauce. The soups are very good also. Consistently good!

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Thank Claire914
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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