The side dish: Ciccio’s Lodge
Published: Sunday, March 4, 2012
Updated: Sunday, March 4, 2012 23:03
It's hard to decipher what type of restaurant Ciccio's Lodge is exactly.
The New Tampa establishment, which is a hybrid of popular SoHo restaurants Ciccio's and The Lodge, takes the primary menu from the former and adds to it the burgers from the latter.
As a result, offerings are as diverse as pizza, stir-fry, burgers and sushi on an expansive, but not overwhelming, menu. Yet, all items are consistently well-prepared.
Ciccio's Lodge also boasts a full-service bar with original cocktails and mixed beers. Their "Black and Blue" has a bottom layer of Guinness with a top half of Shock Top, an odd yet surprisingly delicious combination that alternates the tastes as you drink.
Their Burger Mac-and-Cheese appetizer mixes penne, light cheese sauce, bits of grilled beef and breadcrumbs in a subtle, but tasty, combination. At $7, it's enough to feed two before a main course.
To order pizza at a restaurant with such a diverse menu takes a leap of faith, as despite its simplicity, it's easy to get wrong. The flatbread Tuscan pizza avoided silly mistakes such as being overly greasy, with fair portions of pepperoni, ground sausage, fresh mozzarella cheese and sliced basil strips. For a modest $7, you'll get three oversized slices of the pizza of your choice.
Their nightly specials often include custom sushi dishes, such as the Twisted Diablo Sushi Roll Special ($11.50). Sriracha-marinated Scottish Salmon rolls with crispy onions are topped with salmon sashimi, sprouts, tobiko, wonton chips and sriracha aioli. The fish tastes fresh and the presentation adds flare to the impressive dish.
For desert, the humorously titled "Fudge You" ($5) takes the cake. A warm brownie is topped with vanilla ice cream and chocolate caramel sauce.
Aside from the diverse and well-prepared dishes, Ciccio's Lodge boasts a bustling atmosphere, comfortable seating and over 15 flat screen TVs. Solo and group musical acts play on designated nights, making it a great place for after-work drinks or a fun date night.