I’ve been to Italy; my brief two-week trip was a whirlwind of culinary delights and gelato dreams. I’ve had some of the best pizzas, the freshest pastas, and the most divine deserts in some of the quaintest cafe’s in Tuscany. Florence was especially memorable as I dined on delicious morsels at Ristorante La Loggia inside the Villa San Michele, overlooking the city. I’ve tasted cuisine like none other… until I stepped inside a literal Roman Holiday in Sarasota, Florida. Cafe’ Americano offers not only delicious food, but also a delightful Italian oasis, cooled by the tropical Florida breeze.
Both Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn would be over the moon for Cafe’ Americano’s menu.
Joe: Tell you what. Why don’t we do all those things, together?
Ann: But don’t you have to work?
Joe: Work? No. Today’s gonna be a holiday.
Ann: But you want to do a lot of silly things?
Joe: (He takes her hand) …First wish? One sidewalk cafe, comin’ right up. I know just the place.
~Audrey Hepburn (Princess Ann) & Gregory Peck (Joe) in Roman Holiday
Yes, I can affirm that Joe would have brought Princess Ann to Cafe’ Americano if they had been in Sarasota. As one of the single best Italian cafe’s in Central Florida, Cafe’ Americano boasts fresh, thoughtful cuisine that promises to deliver not only a delicious meal, but also a holiday away from every day life.
Last week, I was a guest of Chef Judy Gallagher at the Media Dinner announcing the revised and expanded dinner menu at Cafe’ Americano. As her guest, I was pampered with a 13 course, 3-hour dinner that literally took my breath away. According to the press release, “The new dinner menu at cafe’ Americano completes the transition to a Pan-Mediterranean concept envisioned by owner Ambrish Piare when he moved to Sarasota two years ago and bought the stylish downtown restaurant. Now when guests sit inside at the cafe or on the street-side patio under red umbrellas, they will be transported to Italy, Spain, Greece, France, and other sun-kissed countries where vibrant dishes from land and sea are part of the everyday culture.”
Some of my personal highlights of the meal were a freshly made Orechiette Bolognese, an elephant ear-shaped pasta served with a traditional meat sauce and shaved Parmesan; Linguine and White Clam Sauce, a home-made linguini topped with fresh clams, garlic, and organic cherry tomatoes; a Mediterranean Chopped Salad of salami, provolone, mortadella, chickpeas, Parmesan, red onion, tomatoes, and chopped romaine; and the best Paella I’ve ever tasted with fresh shellfish, chorizo, chicken, saffron, and house-brined olives. As you can see, we ate very, very well!
…and I haven’t even told you about the pizza! Be still my carbohydrate-loving heart! Sausage and Roasted Red Pepper, classic white, Margherita, sigh. Cafe’ Americano doesn’t just do Mediterranean food well, they have created the perfect pizza! With a flaky, flavorful crust that tastes like it is direct from a wood fire oven, the pie is to die for. Chef Judi said that they had spent many hours developing and discovering the ideal balance between crust, topping, and sauce. Hours well-spent, Chef!
As you know, my dear readers, I love me a good desert. What better way to end a tour of Cafe’ Americano’s new menu, but with a trio of heaven-on-a-plate deserts? Had I been completely stuffed, I still would have made room for the Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding, the Gelato (with a home-made salted caramel sauce that I could have consumed by the glass!), and the Pistachio Donuts. Served warm with drippy dark chocolate, the bread pudding filled all the cracks made by a rough, stressful day, while the gelato melted into cool, sugary promises of sweet dreams and a better tomorrow. The donut? Well, I’ve never met a donut I didn’t like, but this one was certainly singing me the sweet, sweet songs of the Donut-people.
I was blown away by the congeniality of the wait staff and pleasantly surprised with the way the owner welcomed us to his restaurant… it was as if he opened his home and seated us at his family table. If you are looking for a Roman Holiday in Sarasota, Cafe’ Americano will not disappoint.
Open daily from 7:30am to 10pm, Cafe’ Americano is located at 1409 Main Street in downtown Sarasota at Five Points near the historic roundabout. Look for the red umbrellas. You can’t miss it.