The Florida Fab Four of fine food, Sweet Polly, her Underdawg, my bride and I, wandered in to Verducci's Pizzeria and Trattoria, 7736 Blind Pass Road, St. Pete Beach, around 5-ish this past Friday. We had not made reservations but we were still promptly seated and presented with menus. Our first order of business were adult beverages to wash away the trials and tribulations of a journey on Gulf Boulevard.
The table requested a bottle of white for the ladies and a red for the manly men in our party. Along with the wine, our table was presented with a basket of freshly baked, crispy crust bread with soft warm centers and a fine olive oil for dipping.
Up next on our gastronomic radar screens were appetizers, and we four chose three to share: Maruzzella, Antipasto Italiano, and a basket brimming with fried shrimp, calamari, and a side of marinara.
The Maruzzella was resplendent with octopus, shrimp, and calamari in a light tomato sauce. This was a heavenly treat for the buds of taste.
A treat for the eyes as well as the tongue, the Antipasto Italiano was serious art on a platter with cured meats, cheeses, roasted vegetables, and olives drizzled with a delightful balsamic reduction.
I don't normally get too excited about fried shrimps, but these tasty treats and their companion calamari were fried to perfection: moist and tender with a crispy coating that was enhanced with a marinara dipping sauce.
With our taste buds a-tingle we forged ahead to the entrees side of the menu. The Pork Osso Buco reached out and touched me with its promise of piglet paradise. This braised pork shank was more than enough for one person and it made an awesome display with that big bone sticking out. It was tender, juicy, and delicious nestled on a bed of polenta in that super rich broth.
The Belle of Gulf Boulevard decided on the Chicken Parmigiana, a moist and flavorful breast on a bed of pasta with a silky and delicious sauce. There was enough here for a left-over lunch the next day.
Underdog and Sweet Polly also chose well with Veal Roulades stuffed with cheese and prosciutto, and the special of the evening, the rich and flavorful Veal Osso Buco Ravioli with porcini mushrooms and truffle sauce.
With all of those sumptuous vittles sitting ever so smugly in our bellies we really didn't need dessert ... but, what the hell! Bring on the chocolate cannolis, per favore. The cannolis provided a sweet ending to a luxurious Italian dining adventure.