Pia’s Trattoria is our favorite Southern Pinellas County restaurant, besides Three Birds Tavern, of course, and our sure thing, go to spot for a celebration, a quiet hide-away afternoon, or a place for coffee and dessert after a not-so-great meal someplace else (when we wish we had chosen Pia’s first).
“We have one goal – we want to spoil you with fresh, natural foods, prepared with lots of love in a romantic, cozy Old Italy atmosphere. Trattoria is an Italian word, and means “eating house”, which is exactly what we are. No “High Cuisine”, just simple, fresh and original food. Stay with us as long as you wish. Live the Italian lifestyle . . . “
We found Pia’s very early on, although I cannot specifically recall our first visit. Ironically, back in 2008, when we were looking at Pinellas County businesses to acquire, and as we negotiated on one in Gulfport (obviously, that deal didn’t work out), my husband Jack looked into the windows of what is not Pia’s quaint dining room, which was then an office space of some sort. Here our family and friends have celebrated Mother’s Day and birthdays, we have entertained countless out-of-town guests, I love meeting my Gulfport friends, Jack and I love sharing a bottle of wine and the Antipasto Misto, and we celebrated Pia’s recent milestone birthday with a her friends and family. Jack and I talked about this just yesterday and guess we have dined at Pia’s Trattoria probably more than 50 times. We cannot say that about another Florida restaurant, besides our own.
You have many seating options, depending on mood and weather. The patio is lovely, with picnic tables, cotton tablecloths, twinkling lights and candles. The candlelit dining room takes you directly to Italy, if only in your mind, with warm, dark colors and Italian music playing softly in the background. There are two private rooms for special evenings where you will feel as though Pia is entertaining you in her home (call ahead to reserve). The bar area is lively and more relaxed, and if we have one of our dogs with us, we sit in the front, along the sidewalk. Truly someplace for everyone.
Our most recent visit was just more of the same wonderful food and ambiance . . . we arrived mid-afternoon on Saturday, the time when a restaurant is in between lunch and dinner. As restaurant owners, we eat at odd times. We were greeted by the lovely Pia herself, walking through the restaurant, making finishing touches on the tables as she prepared for dinner service.
Hopefully by now you feel the atmosphere of this little gem. Now let’s talk food and drink. We started with a bottle of Zonin Prosecco, which was perfect on a hot Florida afternoon, and olive miste e pane rustica, spiced mixed olives with grilled hearty bread. Bubbles and olives on a Saturday afternoon? Yes, please.
Although not a big lamb eater, Jack ordered the agnello, trusting the product and preparation here; pan roasted lamb chops over red wine risotto with roasted garlic. The lamb was perfectly prepared, and the flavors perfectly married. He was not disappointed.
There are so many things on Pia’s menu that I enjoy: arrabiatta and pesto verde sauces over capalleni, fresh mussels in white wine and shallots, pollo e vitello piccata (both chicken and veal are free roaming, all naturally fed), or the freshly baked lasagna of the day on a cool Florida winter evening. But this visit I, once again, enjoyed one of my favorite salads anywhere, Insalata Pia, which is a bowl of fresh, crispy romaine and arugula with tomatoes, Italian mozzarella and gorgonzola cheeses, topped off with a homemade salsa verde dressing. Perfezione, as always.
It was too warm, and we were too full, to enjoy dessert, but I encourage you to leave room for dolci and espresso when you visit. The desserts are made in-house and are to die for.
Pia’s Trattoria is located at 3054 Beach Boulevard in Gulfport, Florida. 727-327-2190 Open daily at 11 am, closing at 9 pm Sunday through Thursday, and 10 pm Friday and Saturday. If you haven’t been for awhile, go back soon. If you’ve never been, you are missing out on this one.
Thank you Pia, for the continuing lovely dining experiences. I know how hard you work.