Antonio’s Pasta Grille is one of those places I have frequently drove by, but did not take the time to stop by and investigate until this past Friday when I was looking for a new place to try near my house. The interior is actually what you would expect from a modern casual-dining restaurant and not too different from a Ruby Tuesdays or Red Robin. The restaurant had a good lunch crowd, but I was still able to get seated immediately when I entered.
When I took a look at the menu – I was torn on whether to take a traditional Italian route or to try some of their other options. When questioned, the waitress kept mentioning their Smoke House BBQ Burger and I was eventually convinced it was time to mix things up. I ordered a housemade meatball for my appetizer (only $1 per meatball) and the Smoke House BBQ Burger (~$9) for my main course.
The housemade meatball came out a few minutes after my order. The meatball consists of classic ground beef and veal blended with bread crumbs, seasonings, and Parmesan cheese in a tomato sauce with sprinkles of shaved Parmesan on top. The meatball was fantastic and went incredibly well with the complimentary bread provided. The fresh tomato sauce definitely made me think of ordering a spaghetti or lasagna in the future. In fact, many of the tips online highly recommended the lasagna.
After I ate the meatball it wasn’t long before my burger arrived at my table. The burger was appetizing just in appearance. The way the bacon was arranged on top of the burger, I knew this was going to be a glutenous experience that I would never be able to erase from my body, but it was worth the damage. The provolone cheese and onion straws were also neatly arrange in a way that I rarely see at restaurants.
As I arranged the burger, I started to wonder about the connection between great Italian restaurants and delicious burgers. There is a strange affinity between the two. One of my top burgers growing up and into adulthood was at Gino’s Italian Restaurant in Carrollwood (now The Refinery definitely takes the cake for best burger in town)…something about the cheese ingredients and fresh seasonings in the meat makes burgers taste great at Italian restaurants.
This burger was full of quality ingredients. It did get messy as I started to tear into it, but was enjoyable down to the last bite. Once I had my burger fix I started looking at dessert. The waitress recommended their signature Maker’s Mark Bread Pudding and although I was inclined to order my usual favorite, Tiramisu, I eventually followed her recommendation after some thinking.
Simply put, the bread pudding was one of the best desserts I have ever enjoyed. It reminded me of the delicious desserts at Jaymer-Q BBQ in Riverview, though a lighter version. The portion was huge and the ice cream scoop large. There was no way I could finish it after my meal and had to box it, but it was worth it just for a taste.
I left Antonio’s Pasta Grille completely satisfied and I look forward to going back soon and trying their Italian favorites. The restaurant has a friendly-staff, is clean, and affordable. It’s great to have a local Italian restaurant nearby that isn’t your average chain.
Restaurant name: Antonio’s Pasta Grille
Cuisine: Italian, American
Neighborhood: Temple Terrace
Address: 11401 N 56th St # 23 Temple Terrace, FL 33617
Phone Number: (813) 914-8899