That's Amore

By Megan McDonald October 31, 2011

Where once stood a local gas station on the corner of Gulf Gate Drive and Gateway now stands Il Panificio, Sarasota’s award-winning Italian bakery, pizza and deli stop. When I am on Main Street I stop in for a slice (or two) at the original Il Panificio and a visit with Pops. When I am in Gulf Gate, I visit with Uncle Lenny, who is often sitting out on the patio, sharing old stories, a glass of wine and a pizza or grinder.

Now comes a whole new experience: Piatti. And I had the joy of sitting down with both Pops and Uncle Lenny, as well as owners Nick and Tracy Melone, at their new Gulf Gate bistro.

Piatti is Gulf Gate's new hot spot.

Nick explains it best: “If you want a slice or a pizza with the family in a casual busting setting, you go to Il Panificio. If you want the same great food but a more uptown menu, plus full service and martini--all without the up-charge--you can now enjoy Piatti.”

What I liked is that the new bistro has a Mediterranean influence with some great American comfort dishes, like a Kobe beef burger and veal skirt steak with smashed potatoes as the nightly specials. Instead of a slice at Piatti, you get a 12 inch pizza--same pizza, same delicious ingredients that we know and love, just in a “cool vibe” space. The chophouse pizza, with imported Italian sausage, pepperoni, capiocola, onions, peppers and mozz, is a house favorite--ours, too (and I don’t even like pepperoni).

The wine room is chic, with glass walls and blue under-lights on the bar and wall, making it feel a little clubby later as the pretty people gather for cocktails and a few nibbles.

This new Englander loved the simple flavors of the fresh cod.

As a New Englander, I can say Chef Steven Whipple gets a thumb up for his cod oreganato with fresh chunks of tomatoes, garlic and toasted bread crumbs. We loved Piatti’s version of a “bang-bang shrimp,” as well as the Tuscan Wedge and White Bean Piatta salad. Too bad we already had our French fry contest for Sarasota magazine, because these truffle fries could have taken top prize.

Piatti's wedge salad.

Service is a little slow, but they are working on that. Lunch is served daily with half-sandwich and salad options as well as full menu. There are plenty of happy hour specials and Piatti can be rented out for private parties. In fact, the first night we planned on dining there, they were booked for a private dinner party, band and all.

So, now you have even more choices from the family at Il Panificio: Piatti, the new hip spot.

Other favorites in Gulf Gate include Vizen for sushi, Small Batch Bakery for cranberry muffins and Piccolo’s for meatball subs.

What are your Gulf Gate foodie treasures?

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