OGGI: A Taste of Authentic Italy in Tampa Bay

If it weren’t for the palm tree outside the window, sitting in OGGI you would think you were on a side street in Rome eating an authentic Italian meal a few blocks from the Trevi…

Nestled in a small strip plaza along E Davis Boulevard on Davis Island, OGGI Italian Street Food is a fresh new take on your old classic neighborhood Italian restaurant. The restaurant, which serves the Tampa Bay area, transports you to Italy before you even step in the door. Located on the side of the strip plaza, OGGI utilizes the side alley space and the adjacent building to create a romantic outdoor eating area, which sets the mood for your dining experience. IMG_0420.JPGWe chose to sit inside, as dinner in 95 degrees was not the most ideal evening. But let me tell you, the outdoor seating alone made me want to come back for a visit in the fall (when just maybe the temperature will drop below 80)!

Anyway, on to the food… OGGI boasts local farm to table, non-GMO, and even free range chickens. The mozzarella is also made fresh in-house  daily. This is not your run of the mill Italian establishment. This is fresh and unique Italian made with the best ingredients.

The dinner began with a small complimentary hors d’oeuvre of bruschetta with garlic and oil marinated olives, sun dried tomatoes, and cabbage, which were tasty and satisfying as we reviewed the menu options. The dinner menu was more limited than your average Italian restaurant, but diverse enough that anyone could find something to enjoy. The Italian staples like spaghetti and meatballs and caprese salad were on there, as well as unique items like the blood orange roasted chicken. All contained simple and fresh ingredients to pull together true Italian flavors. I opted for the spaghetti and meatballs, as did the rest of my table. Although the roasted chicken was tempting, it was an easy choice because anytime I see whipped ricotta and meatballs paired on a menu I simply cannot say no. All dinner plates include a starting salad made of arugula, parmesan and olive oil. The salad was simple and light, perfect to precede the plate of carbs coming my way.

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The large plate of spaghetti and meatballs (really, a meal that could be shared by two) was rested in front of me topped with whipped ricotta, parmesan, and fresh bread. The marinara sauce was sweet and a nice contrast to the two giant meatballs that sat next to the spaghetti. Typically, this meal would be too heavy for me after just a few bites. However, OGGI does such a wonderful job utilizing the freshest flavors to make even a heavy plate of pasta feel fresh and vibrant. Believe it or not, I had some left over to take home with me…

After eating enough spaghetti and meatballs to last me the rest of the summer, I decided to revisit the menu remembering that something sweet had caught my eye while looking at the dinner options. Oh yes, it was the house made cannolis.

Naturally, we ordered a couple cannolis from the “Cannoli Bar” for the table to top off this wonderful Italian meal. IMG_0417The house made desserts are customizable with toppings ranging from your typical chocolate chips to something more interesting like candied dried fruit. Nuts and sprinkles are also offered if the first two options don’t appeal to you. We went with chocolate chips, because any day is not complete without some chocolate. The sweet cream filled desserts were delicious and definitely better than your store bought cannoli.

If it seems as if I have used the adjective “fresh” a few too many times in this review, it is true, but well deserved.  OGGI is a modern take on Italian that beats the typical Italian restaurant any day in my book. I have eaten at many “authentic” Italian restaurants, but none have reminded me so much of my trip to Italy like this one did. If it weren’t for the palm tree outside the window, sitting in OGGI you would think you were on a side street in Rome eating an authentic Italian meal a few blocks from the Trevi…

For more on OGGI visit http://www.oggitampa.com