Esposito's: Carrollwood's Newest Italian Eatery

It's refreshing to see something local coming to the Carrollwood area.
Esposito's, 2020
"Alright Mark, you have some explaining to do!" Yes... I do. During the middle of last year, I took on a job that was a lot more demanding than the job I had at any point during this blog. I thought this job was crazy until the virus hit and everything started shutting down. Then I was telling myself that I couldn't possibly update this blog while the virus had everything shut down. Then I came to the realization that this virus may not end at any point during my lifetime. This very well may be the "new normal" and it's time to adjust. 
Yes, this is there menu, 2020
So, my mom's birthday came around and there was a new eatery that had come to her attention. Actually, it was hard to miss, every time you drive past it, there's a new sign showing off the opening of the restaurant that would be replacing the already overhyped and underwhelming Carmel that was the…

Ichicoro Ramen: Trendy Eats in Seminole Heights

Yeah, people talk about it. But is it worth it?

Ichicoro Ramen, 2017

It's hard to say how I first heard about Ichicoro, but I turned to Stormy and said, "You know we're going to have to try it, right?" Stormy's infamous words still ring every time I close my eyes, "You idiot! You don't even like ramen!" She was right. I don't. But I'm jumping ahead. Ichicoro opened in 2015 in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Seminole Heights. Opened by Noel Cruz to mimic trendy restaurants in places such as Los Angeles and New York City. While I appreciate the new trends in food, and people thinking that Tampa is ready to compete with the bigger cities, I find that I tend to enjoy the restaurants that celebrate Florida's heritage more than I do the next hot trend. While these restaurants work in "world cities," Tampa is more of a Cuban and Italian city. The concept was simple: Noodles in broth plus meat. Every college student's dream restaurant. Cruz took it a step further to include some Tampa Bay inspiration in his dishes. There are a lot of people who will really enjoy this concept and this type of restaurant, but Stormy was right... I don't like ramen. But alas, lets talk about the food!

Spicy Kimuchi, 2017

On this particular occasion, it was just me. Stormy didn't want to give Ichicoro a try, so I was on my own! So, this can only mean one thing... I'll have to eat two meals and you'll have to live with my sole opinion without the influence of everyone else. I sat at the bar and the bartender (whose name I did not catch) was incredibly attentive and was quick to get my water and a menu, and even quicker putting my order in. I will say this: I didn't do much waiting while here. I also went on an off night, so I can't vouch for how this place gets during the weekends. I asked for his suggestion and he told me to stick with the spicy kimuchi. Ok, spicy sounds good. If nothing else, the heat can cover a meal I'm not thrilled about. Or so I thought. Lets just start outright with the fact that the beansprouts in this dish were overbearing. I'm pretty sure there were more sprouts than there were noodles. The pork rinds, while I'm sure some will really enjoy, did nothing for me. The bacon, being the only source of protein in this bowl, was underwhelming at best. The poached egg added to the bowl was simply strange to me, and they seemed to add a poached egg to every dish. The worst part, for me, was the fact that there was very little, if any, spice to this dish. But this wasn't the only meal I got! Maybe they can win over someone who's not thrilled with the concept.

Spicy Abura Soba, 2017

And here's where I personally thought they really shined. The spicy abura soba is a brothless (right up my alley) form of ramen with a poached egg, bacon, some sort of pork, and lots of veggies to keep my doctor happy. Again, this meal wasn't very spicy, however, the meats weren't trying to compete with a broth, and the noodles weren't competing with bean sprouts to shine through in this dish. I think that Cruz knew that he wasn't going to win everyone who came through the door over with his broth dishes and decided to add two brothless options to the menu just to be safe. And I have to thank him for that. The vegetables added a nice, fresh flavor to the dish without overtaking it (like the beansprouts. Can I safely say I hated the beansprouts?) If someone were to ask me what one dish to order here, it'd be the spicy abura soba. It's the only dish I could get behind. 

Things to know before you go:
- If you're already not a ramen fan, don't expect Ichicoro to change that.
- They do offer brothless options, as well as buns.
- They do carry craft beer, which is always a plus!
- The servers all seemed to be friendly and quick. There's nothing wrong with the service.
- If you've never done something like this before, go in with an open mind.

Do you enjoy pork rinds in your ramen? Do you eat your ramen with broth or without? 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!