By Carla Dubis Tedeschi

If you haven’t been to Rossi, you’re missing out, plain and simple. Trust me when I say that they have some of the best and freshest food in town. Your Nonna would agree. 

My mother was born and raised in Italy, in the Abruzzo Molise region. And we both believe that Rossi serves some of the most delicious and authentic Italian food we’ve ever had the pleasure of trying in Tampa Bay.

It takes only one visit to become a regular. That’s what it took for me and my family to realize that we’ve finally found our “go-to” Italian restaurant in town.

Whenever I get the opportunity to write about Rossi Ristorante Italiano I am overjoyed. I know that everything I say about their exquisite food, hard-working owners, and their incredible staff, comes straight from my heart and my very own experiences dining there with my loved ones. 

Growing up with a traditional Italian family gave me a strong passion for what true Italian cuisine was all about; the fresh produce, the local seasonal ingredients, the aromas, the passed down family recipes, the pasta “al dente,” and the entire experience that comes with enjoying a good Italian meal in a worry-free, family environment. And that is exactly what you will find at Rossi Ristorante Italiano.

It comes to no surprise that this neighborhood gem has been in business for over three decades! Something that cannot be said about a lot of other local restaurants that seem to come and go every year. Great quality and consistency are very hard to achieve, but at Rossi, they’ve mastered it. 

Rossi offers consistent service every time we stop by. They have an impressive uniformity in terms of speed, food quality, and courtesy in delivering excellent service to their customers, regardless of time and occasion.

Gabriella Rossi, the owner, always says hello whenever we walk in and greets us with a big smile. Knowing that someone remembers you and appreciates your business goes a long way.

“We have customers that have been coming to Rossi since we first opened our doors over 35 years ago,” said Gabriella. “Nothing makes me feel more proud than when I hear someone say they love our food,” she added. And people love their food, they really do.

A happy regular named Paul said, “Rossi is my favorite Italian restaurant in the Tampa Bay area–my family has been coming here for over 20 years. Their pizza is among the best I’ve had, and the pasta is always al dente. The chicken piccata is fork-tender, the veal pizzaiola is dynamite, and you can’t go wrong with the penne Alla vodka.” 

Everything’s Made From Scratch

While many things have changed over the years, Rossi’s core commitment to serving you and your loved ones with the most delicious and made-to-order Italian dishes has not. Everything on the menu at Rossi tastes amazing and is presented with pride. From the appetizers, pizzas, salads and Italian specialty entrees, to the decadent desserts, like their famous homemade tiramisu. My mom’s favorite!

“We make everything from scratch and with the freshest ingredients,” said Gabriella. “We also serve certified organic, free-range chicken from a production company called ‘Free Birds.’ They are well-known for their organic, non-GMOs line, which is also antibiotic-free. They feed their birds a balanced diet of fortified vegetarian grains, so there never any artificial additives, animal fats or by-products used to feed these chickens.”

All of Rossi’s recipes have been passed on from generation to generation, but Gabriella says she can happily accommodate any customer’s specific needs. “I am happy to modify any of our dishes to meet our customer’s needs, and it is not a problem, as everything is made to order,” said Gabriella.

My Personal favorites

Start your meal with their scrumptious tomato bruschetta, made with the most delicious fresh and crispy bread, fresh basil, and balsamic dressing. Into seafood? Go for the Clams Oreganato, middle neck clams stuffed with a seasoned oregano-breadcrumb mixture and baked in white wine and lemon. If mussels are your thing, you’ll love their sauteed mussels with your choice of sauce; marinara, fradiavolo, or bianco.

Everything on the lunch and dinner menu is nothing short of spectacular. But my favorite dish has to be the “Aragosta Fra Diavolo.” A succulent dish of “Al Dente” pasta in a mildly spicy tomato sauce served with shellfish and a whole lobster tail. ‘Aragosta’ means Lobster, and Fra Diavolo means ‘of the devil’ in Italian. So basically this dish is called “Lobster of the devil” and it’s named this way because of the spiciness of the dish. I eat a lot of spicy food and I love anything seafood, so this dish was made for me. But don’t be afraid to try it, they can adjust the level of spiciness for you!

If you’re looking for a meat option, I recommend the Veal “Saltimbocca.” Meaning literally “to jump in your mouth,” the saltimbocca is an iconic Roman dish traditionally made with veal, prosciutto, and fresh sage leaves in a delicate white wine and butter sauce. Yum!

Undecided? Try any of their fabulous brick-oven pizzas, you can thank me later. 

Sophia D. a local customer had this to say; “The family atmosphere and the delicious pizza have my family coming here over and over. We’ve never tried anything else, so I can’t speak to the rest of the menu. We get the thin crust and extra crispy and it comes out crispy and light and perfect every time. For us is the best pizza in town, hands down.” 

They also have a wide selection of Italian wines, including one of my personal favorites; the Carletto, from Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. This wine touches my heartstrings and helps me reminisce about the days when I lived in Italy. It is truly delicious, affordable, and makes the perfect pairing with any of Rossi’s authentic Italian dishes!

Leave Room For Dessert

The Tiramisu (meaning “pick me up,” “cheer me up” or “life me up”) at Rossi is my mom’s favorite dessert, and their cannolis are my own personal favorite. Cannoli are Italian pastries that originated on the island of Sicily and are today a staple of Sicilian cuisine. Cannoli consist of tube-shaped shells of fried pastry dough, filled with a sweet, creamy filling usually containing ricotta. At Rossi, they add lots of chocolate chips to the filing, which gives them an even more special touch. Just thinking about them makes my mouth water. 

Special Occasions? Rossi’s got you covered!

Rossi can accommodate large groups and special events such as birthdays, graduations or even weddings. It’s not unusual to hear someone say, “Can I bring in a party of 30 on Saturday afternoon for a birthday party?” So, keep that in mind! 

Also, they have a full catering menu to serve parties of any size, which means that you can truly share your favorite Rossi dishes with everyone you love! If you love Italian food, you’ve got to put Rossi Ristorante Italiano on the regular rotation. 

Showing genuine gratitude and pride, Gabriella said “I want all of our customers to know how appreciative I am for their incredible support, loyalty, and patronage during all these years. You are the reason why we do what we do.”

Open for lunch and for dinner seven days a week, your entire family will love it, mine definitely does!Rossi Ristorante Italiano is located in the 7 Springs Plaza at 7254 S.R. 54 in New Port Richey. They are open: Mon. –Thur., 11 a.m.¬–10 p.m.; Fri. and Sat., 11 a.m.–11 p.m.; and 1–10 p.m. on Sun. For more information or to make a reservation (although not required), call 727-376-4010. To see their menu, visit their website at www.rossiitaliano.com or find them on facebook!