Il Ritorno is a gem of a restaurant on Central Ave in St. Pete. A bit pricey for a casual meal (depending on your budget), it's a great change from all the pub food downtown. It also serves excellent authentic rustic Italian without the pretension of other upscale dining in town. The atmosphere is casual-comfortable without being downscale. Exposed brick and ceiling make it expansive and homey at the same time. Beats the stark white tables and chairs at another eating establishment that shall remain nameless :-)
I had the grilled octopus appetizer and the lamb shank. Both were delicious and perfectly cooked. The accompaniments for the lamb (including polenta) were amazing. The lamb is probably the largest (portion-wise) item on the menu. My brother had the short-rib stuff pasta, which looked filling too. People at the neighboring table had the scallops (four BIG scallops) and the swordfish (it looked dry). Altogether a wonderful dining experience.
Oh, and they haven't resorted to "sous-viding" everything like yet another establishment downtown... I don't like pretense. I like good food.
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