Bar, restaurant, all at CDB’s

With its darkened windows decorated in various shades of neon you might mistake CDB’s for yet another neighborhood bar. Appearances can be deceiving.

CDB’s is actually an Italian restaurant, serving up some of the tastiest subs in the USF area. The sandwiches are on homemade toasted bread and warmed in the oven. The best of these highly merited subs is the “Hard Hat Special.”

The Hard Hat (5.95 half, 7.75 whole) includes melted cheese and a delectable array of meats: ham, Genoa salami, roast beef pastrami and pepperoni.

The atmosphere at CDB’s is definitely homey, and the service is terrific. A sign on the wall proclaims that on your third visit you become part of the family.

Started by the Sicilian Iacovella family, CDB’s has served the Tampa area for more than 30 years. Just a block from MOSI, on the opposite side of Fowler, this family-owned Italian restaurant is worth trying for the subs alone.

But subs aren’t the only thing CDB’s dishes up. Order a white pie or a traditional pizza and you won’t be disappointed. The pizza, which has won awards across the Bay area, deserves most of its accolades.

Burnt cheese is the only thing that marred an otherwise respectable pie. The crust is thick and the pie itself is thin and crispy. The taste and texture is a wonderful marriage of Chicago and New York Style. CBD’s pizza is amazing as left overs. They offer a take-out service for anyone longing for a slice.

Appetizers range in flavor even though most are fried. A safe bet for the unadventurous is the mozzarella sticks. The fried green tomatoes, although greasy, were excellent.

The most peculiar appetizer, fried ravioli, is worth trying because you’ll either love it or hate it. The inside of the ravioli has a cheese mixture that’s a bit spicy. It’s best described as Italy meets Mexico.

Entrees include garlic bread and a salad. The freshest ingredients go into the CDB salads, winning them a Best Salad award from The Weekly Planet. Garlic bread is a light, slightly crispy perfection.

The menu described the Chicken Bianco entrée (11.95) as having “a tad of onion” — but the onion was quite prolific. Huge amounts of onion and garlic in a cream sauce over-powered the poor, hapless chicken. The tender chicken itself was excellent as the melted mozzarella cheese over it.

The quantity of food served for an entrée will have you busting a gut unless you wisely take home a doggie bag.

CDB’s is located at 5104 East Fowler Avenue. You can contact them at (813) 985-1336