Gasparilla Guide 2023: Everything You Need To Know

  I t's that time of year! Gasparilla season. The pirates have taken over.  Me and another pirate, 2017 Another year has come and that means it's time for another season of Gasparilla. Lets get some of the more important questions out of the way real quick: How much does it cost? Nothing. Gasparilla is a free event. They do offer paid upgrades, but the parade itself is free. Where is it? The Children's parade and Day parade are off of Bayshore Ave in South Tampa into the Channel District in Downtown Tampa. The Knight Parade is on 7th Ave in Ybor City. Where do we park? I've found that the easiest place to park is the parking garages in Ybor. They offer parking + a bus into Downtown for a reasonable price (note: This has not been announced for 2023 as of now. This will change as the event draws nearer.).  You can also park on neighborhood streets. You'll get a few individuals who will try to scare you away. Keep in mind that they do not own the road and you are free

Bernini: Innovative Italian Cuisine

Irma has left the building. Time to talk about Tampa again!

Bernini, 2017

One long day in Ybor City, Stormy and I were on a date (yes, we still have those every once in a while!) and after an amazing lunch, we wandered up to this interesting building located in the old Bank of Ybor City building. The decor was interesting, it was a nice day out and they had outdoor seating, and the gentleman at the door offered to show us the speakeasy (ask to see the speakeasy). We got our seats outside, were handed menus, and we decided to partake in some key lime pie. We are Floridians after all. The desserts were glorious and Stormy and I left and never really looked back. The prices of their food on the menu always kind of scared us, and if the desserts were that good, are they making up for their food? We did manage to go back once more with my parents to get some desserts, but again, never went for dinner. So, Stormy and I are sitting at Coppertail one day after loading a new dresser from IKEA into my very small Mazda and Stormy wasn't looking forward to driving back home pressed up against the glove box just yet. We decided it was close enough to dinner time and decided to look for something to eat. The choices were between Columbia, the new Stein & Vine at Coppertail, or Bernini. This was our chance! But, you didn't come here for that, so lets talk about the restaurant.

Kenneth is an expert, 2017

Unbeknownst to me at the time, Bernini is owned by Jason Fernandez, who I talked about in my Carne Chop House Review. Fernandez is a fourth generation Tampanian whose grandfather was also involved in the bar scene in the 1900's. The hospitality industry is not new to Fernandez or his family. Bernini itself is named after Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini of Renaissance period fame, and the decor of the restaurant perfectly mimics this time period while also paying homage to the early days of Ybor City. The Bank of Ybor City building dates all the way back to 1905, and the restaurant looks as if you were right back in that time period. All wooden tables and chairs, brick building, wooden floors, the works. This is the type of place you take your significant other to for a date night to "get away from it all" for a while. The best part is that, between the hours of 4:00pm - 7:00pm, pastas & entrees are half off. And this is a daily special! They also offer $3 Finlandia Martinis during that time. Lets take a minute to talk about the food itself.

Raspberry Martinis, 2017

Half-price pasta, you say? Don't mind if I do. Stormy and I happened to arrive well before the 7:00pm cutoff, so we took advantage. Our server was Kenneth and he was a fun, quirky individual who knew the menu, could pair me to a plate without hesitation, and was overly apologetic about the wait. We happened to arrive as Bernini was getting slammed by large group after large group. I was able to count three with a minimum of ten people, therefore I can't knock them on wait times. In the meantime, Stormy and I saw Kenneth carrying the raspberry martini and were intrigued. Why not? While I said the lemon drop at Carne was watered down, the raspberry here was perfect. Just the right amount of tartness, the alcohol flavor hidden dangerously well, and a nice presentation. The martini glasses used at these restaurants are a cool, trendy, metal martini glass. Something James Bond wouldn't be caught dead drinking from. But food was well on its way!

Shrimp Orecciette, 2017

So I started a new thing before reviewing any restaurant of asking my server what dish defines their restaurant. I want to know what they're known for. I want to eat a meal that they are passionate about. Kenneth gave me a few options, one of which being the Shrimp Orecciette that I had already eyeballed while glancing over the menu. Who was I to argue? My meal arrives and the display was gorgeous. The noodles were just right, the grape tomatoes and spinach, of which I was most worried about fitting into this meal, thoroughly complimented the creamy white truffle Alfredo sauce. Italian food is one of those things in Tampa that's everywhere, and it's very hard to mess up. That's what makes it so impressive when you have an Italian meal that's done well. The only complaint I had about this dish is that they leave the tails on the shrimp and then toss the shrimp into the sauce. I had very hot fingers while trying to enjoy my seafood and I looked like an undignified swine while doing so. While this is a minor complaint, it is something I feel you all should know before ordering this dish. 

 Atlantic Salmon, 2017

Stormy, on the other hand, had the Atlantic Salmon, which comes blackened and sauteed with spinach, zucchini, and squash. On paper, it sounded like a gamble, but once the fish came out, Stormy was glad she had ordered it. For one, the piece of fish you get, in comparison to other restaurants, was significantly bigger than usual. The salmon itself was enjoyable. Nice flaky crust, easy to chew, almost melting in your mouth. The zucchini, squash, spinach combo made for a nice side that will both satisfy you and keep your doctor somewhat happy as long as you don't tell them about all the additives. Overall, it was a delightful meal without having to be overly complicated. I would say that this is their meal for people looking for something a little lighter than their pastas. It's not as filling as everything else on the menu. If you're trying to be good, let this be your cheat meal.

  Interior, 2017

Things you should know before you go:
- It's a very small restaurant. Yes, there are two stories, but you will struggle to walk around.
- They do get busy. This is a place you go to have a long, deep conversation over drinks while waiting on an amazing dinner.
- They offer half price entrees and pastas before 7:00pm. They also offer $3 martinis before this time as well.
- Ask to see the speakeasy.
- Order a raspberry martini. You're welcome.

What do you order when you go? Have you been to their speakeasy? Leave a comment below. If you'd like more information on Tampa, check out my YouTube Channel and if you'd like to support my efforts, don't hesitate to buy a shirt from our Spreadshirt (we have new designs!). Also, don't be afraid to click subscribe and you'll instantly be notified whenever a new entry is posted. If you'd like to meet other people who love Tampa, consider joining our Facebook Group. Thank you all and I will see you next time!