My bride and I drove over to the Big Guava today to see The Martian playing at CineBistro. On the trip back to the beach after the movie, we came to the realization that we were hungry. The Pocahontas of Indian Shores and I tossed about some ideas for dining. I was kind of in the mood for Italian so my bride suggested TJ's Italian Cafe. Since we had never crossed their threshold before, we decided to give them a try.
It was early evening when we arrived, so we had the place mostly to ourselves. Since winter has arrived (holy crap, it was 68 degrees this morning) we decided to sit outside. The setting was very pleasant with a dandy view of Gulf Boulevard while gossamer tarps shielded us from the afternoon sun.
Christine, our server, soon appeared to take our drink orders. An Argentine Conquista Malbec seemed like a good choice, and it was: bright and fruity with plum, spice and red fruit aromas. It is
full-bodied with good acidity and layers of blackberries and
blueberries, hints of mocha and spice on the lingering finish.
We began our gastronomic journey with the Antipasto platter that was adorned with plebeian cold cuts, cheeses, some other stuff, and iceberg lettuce. On the plus side, it kept us alive until our entrees arrived.
Speaking of which, the love of my life chose the "famous" 4 layer Meat Lasagna. This was a mighty pile of meat and pasta that the Belle said was good, but nothing that elevated it to Mount Vesuvius heights. There was a big wad of it though, so we shall be enjoying the leftovers for several days.
Editor's update 10/19/2015: Re-heated the lasagna, took a couple of bites and tossed the rest in the garbage. It didn't improve with age.
After mulling over my options for several minutes, I finally decided to try the Frutti Dimarie with shrimp, clams, calamari, and tiny baby octopuses over spaghetti pasta. The seafood was well prepared, the pasta was al dente, but the "light plum tomato sauce" was really light ... in quantity and flavor.
With the appetizer, entrees, and Malbec, our bill came to $77.95. With hesitation, we added 20% for Christine. The entrees came before the appetizer was finished. The appetizer dishes were not removed before or after the arrival of the entrees. We had to rearrange the table ourselves, and the final check was presented before the end of the meal. No dessert was offered.
This whole adventure reminded me of a quote from a movie, Michael J. "Crocodile" Dundee: "Well, you can live on it, but it tastes like ... ."