** Fratelli's -- absolutely loved this little place. They've done a great job converting the old Manatee location. The food was outstanding. Four of us had dinner on several occasions. Starters of the Fratelli salad (lettuce, beets, apples, and goat cheese), followed by two of those great puffed up garlic breads (comp at Fratelli's), two special pizzas and two entres of lobster stuffed ravioli, a bottle of delicious red wine and two "glasses" of white (which was nearly a whole bottle in a decanter over ice) and the grand finale of flaming crepes (at table by the chef) -- total bill, $100 for four people! What a value. Everything was delicious and the staff is charming. Sadly, we were the only customers on most nights. I hope this place makes it.
** Del Sur -- OMG! Those empanadas are wonderful, but the veal sweetbreads are "to die for". The salad is delicious and the Argentine wines are real winners. The steaks are big enough for at least two, if not three, people. Rene is charming. Visited here three times. Love it.
** Kondesa -- Another great entry from Kris Walenta. A few rough spots with service in the first week, but the setting is beautiful and the food is outstanding. Try the guacamole trio and the cucumber cooler. A great place for a special evening.
** Olive (Le Chef) did not disappoint. Our final week they had fresh tuna on the menu. We made a whole meal of tuna starters (sashmi) and grilled tuna mains -- done to perfection (nearly raw).
** Tried Candela's evening menu. Food was very good, but the service could use a refresher course. We had to track down the waitress for a second drink. Found her playing on Facebook with the bartender. I guess its slow and they get bored.
** Sorry to see the Rock & Java Thai Noodle shop diminished to such a small place at Mega. We really like their food, but there just isn't anywhere to sit now. I hope they pick up a new location later.
Casa Mission (for Valentine's Day) -- in 18 years this was our first visit. Its a beautiful location, but we felt the food was a bit "dumbed down" for our taste. Still a lovely special occasion place.
Especia's -- still love the grilled fish with cilantro sauce. Mostly love Abraham's music! Can get a bit noisy here with lots of wind surfers partying with Adrian.
Lobsteria -- good food on a very rainy night. A bit overpriced compared to other places we found.
Old favorites that just continue to deliver:
- Parilla Mission (the BEST tortilla soup!)
- El Moro (the BEST fish, shrimp and lobster)
- Guidos (wonderful shrimp and garlic pasta)
- Kinta (delicious -- everything!)
- Camillo's (can't live without his fish tacos for lunch)
- Rock & Java (best burgers and fries - when we need a taste of home)