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“Outstanding in Every Way!”

Italian Kitchen & Cafe
Ranked #8 of 134 Restaurants in Riverview
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $10 - $15
Cuisines: Italian
Dining options: Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Sarasota, FL
Level Contributor
13 reviews
13 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Outstanding in Every Way!”
Reviewed October 5, 2013

It's the morning after our first visit to this restaurant, and my wife and I both woke up thinking about what a great experience last night was. We originally found this place on Tripadvisor while looking for a restaurant close to relatives in Apollo Beach we were planning on visiting (we live in Sarasota), and jotted down the info. After a day of shopping, we found ourselves in Brandon, and fortunately, my wife had had the foresight to bring the restaurant info with her.

Upon entering the restaurant, we were surprised at how nice the decor and atmosphere was, especially for a strip-center location. The attention to detail is obvious, right down to the table settings and flatware. Obviously, no expense was spared, but all of this is secondary if you are looking first for great food.

And great it was. We shared a large Caesar salad, amply portioned for two people, and the dressing was delicious. The Italian bread was perfectly baked, dense on the inside and crusty on the outside, unlike some of the tasteless, white fluff that some places pass off as Italian bread. An herbed balsamic olive oil accompanied the bread for dipping.

By this point, we were anticipating that the rest of our meal would be just as good, and we were not let down. My Signature Dish of grilled chicken, pancetta, sauteed mushroom, sundried tomatoes and spinach in a wonderful Alfredo sauce was love at first bite. My wife ordered the Romantica, an eggplant dish with mushrooms, Italian sausage, marinara, ricotta and mozzarella cheese. Her "Mmmmmmmm" of approval was almost perfectly timed with mine. Portion sizes were generous, and I'm not just talking about the pasta; you almost have to include a piece of chicken or sausage in every bite. The presentation was impressive as well, with decorative garnish that you only find in more upscale restaurants.

When my wife asked a question about the cannoli, our waiter paused, turned, and headed back to the kitchen. He returned a few minutes later with a large cannoli, which was given to us "on the house" for our first visit. It was so good, we would have been happy to pay for it had they included it on our bill. The filling was delicious and not overly sweet, and the shell was crispy and fresh. All in all, the perfect cannoli.

I cannot speak to previous comments regarding service, as we found every aspect of their service to be excellent. Staff members were friendly and helpful, and at no point during our visit did we have to ask for anything, which is rare these days. Our glasses were constantly refilled, we were offered more bread, our dishes were cleared quickly and our meals were delivered in a very reasonable amount of time.

We've visited several restaurants in the Brandon-Riverview area before, but only when we were already in the area doing other things. Italian Kitchen has turned the tables on that concept; it will now become the reason for our drive from Sarasota. It's that good. We'll be back.

  • Visited October 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank unloaditall
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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87 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    52
    24
    3
    5
    3
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Manning, SC
Level Contributor
10 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“REAL Italian Food and Great Service!!”
Reviewed September 20, 2013

My husband and I are celebrating our 10 year anniversary this weekend in Tampa, FL. This restaurant came highly recommended by one of the staff members at the Hilton Garden Inn where we stayed, so we decided to give it a try. When we arrived, I have to admit that I would have not given it a second thought had it not been recommended. The restaurant is small, but very clean. I absolutely love the decor!! I really wish I could remember the waiter's name. He spoke with an Italian accent, which put me in a fit of giggles (Okay, so I am very easily entertained) and he had an amazing sense of humor! I ordered the "Romeo and Juliet", which consists of penne, pan seared chicken, jumbo shrimp, pancetta, tomatoes, red peppers, spinach, mushrooms, and a creamy garlic sauce. My husband ordered the chicken florentine. Both were absolutely AMAZING!! I am a huge fan of Olive Garden, but let me tell you-- this place has changed my entire perception of what Italian food is supposed to taste like!! I have read some of the other reviews, and I am fairly confident that the bad reviews must come from the owners/employees of competing restaurants!! I was perfectly satisfied with the service and food, in fact, I had already told my husband that I would be on TripAdvisor tonight reviewing the restaurant because I thought it was THAT good!! I rarely write reviews on the same day I visit a place. Anyway, my experience was taken to a whole new level when we were presented with cheesecake (with chocolate syrup drizzled on top) when we had not ordered dessert. At first, I thought the waiter had made a mistake and brought us another patron's dessert. Then he says (with his Italian accent), "Happy Anniversary"!! We figured the hotel must have called because we never mentioned that it was our anniversary!! I was completely blown away!! I am really big on customer service, and Italian Kitchen has perfected it! I would recommend this place to ANYONE in a heartbeat!!

  • Visited September 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank HappyJoi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Florida
Level Contributor
32 reviews
20 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“This is a small piece of Italian heaven!”
Reviewed July 22, 2013

My husband and I about two years ago, decided to finally try this place and we are so glad we did! This place has great food, great atmosphere and the prices are affordable! Spent our Mother's Day here and have been back quite a few times since. They have it going on!

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
Thank starjem66
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chattanooga, Tennessee
1 review
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Beware of Additional Charges”
Reviewed July 6, 2013

The food, atmosphere and service was excellent, however, after leaving the waiter a 25% tip in cash, signing the debit receipt and marking out the tip area, I was surprised to see the charge on my bank statement since it showed the charge being 15% more than what I signed for. Not sure how they accomplished this as it states directly on the receipt "Cardholder will pay issuer above amount."

Unfortunately, a great experience now leaves a bad taste in the mouth and lower rating than we would have given. We will not return to this restaurant due to the additional charges added after the receipt was signed and delivered to us.

  • Visited June 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank NanaYo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wimauma, Florida, United States
1 review
“authentic Italian food”
Reviewed January 5, 2013

people who gave this place a bad review are nuts. It is amazing good food, good service, good wine great decor I will always come back.

  • Visited January 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank heatherigoe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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