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

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 there. On a side note, what is the deal with Carrollwood and their love of chains? Outside of a handful of restaurants, local business never seem to last. So, we all get dressed up and head out for a nice meal at the new, locally owned Italian eatery. The inside is identical to Carmel's, right down to the bar. I was a bit worried by this point. The bar didn't change, the seating didn't change, the layout, still exactly the same. But you didn't come here for that.

Salad, 2020

If you're solely reading to this paragraph and quitting, you're going to think I hated this place. And that couldn't be further from the truth. I do have to point out that I would probably skip on the appetizers and the salad, though. We got the artichokes and fried mozzarella, mozzarella being the better of the two, but it was so small it wasn't worth mentioning. The artichokes were just... Artichokes. There was nothing to them. I think they were breaded and came with a sauce that just did nothing for the flavor. Bland, boring, and seemingly just on the menu to say that they had appetizers. The restaurant did so much else right that it hurts me to say that they dropped the ball on the appetizers. The salad, was another miss. Just a few vegetables thrown together on a plate with almost no (if any) dressing. All wasn't lost at the beginning though, as their bread was amazing. Seriously, that was enough to keep the table happy until our food came out. Crispy, buttery goodness. 

Lasagna, 2020

I've fallen into this trap of judging how good an Italian place is based off of how exciting their lasagna is. And I do have to say that the lasagna at Esposito's didn't disappoint. It was a decent size to feed a dude as big as myself, and came with enough extra sauce to continue dunking (if that's your thing). The cheese to noodle to meat to sauce ratio was on point. There wasn't a single bite of this meal that disappointed. I also added a side of two meatballs on for good measure. By the time the lasagna was done, I could only fit one of the meatballs. I'll go out on a limb here and say that this is probably my favorite lasagna dish in the Tampa area. Stormy decided on a piece of salmon as her entree and right off the bat said it was too big. She somehow managed to put the whole meal down and was incredibly happy with it. 

Cannoli, 2020

FULL DISCLOSURE: I did not pay for this. My lovely mother kept mentioning that I review things online and this came out afterwards. It's possible that they were giving them out to every table as a "thank you" for coming out first day, or it could be because they were told they were being reviewed and I don't know which. Just know, I did not pay for this, it was provided by the restaurant, and no, I do not like to tell restaurants I'm reviewing them beforehand because of things like this. However, Stormy is a huge fan of cannolis. I, myself, am not the biggest fan. Everyone else at the table seemed to be ecstatic, though. So, this is a deconstructed cannoli. The whipped inside is served in the middle, with empty shells on the outside, and enough spoons to go to war. Grab a shell, scop some insides in, and you're on your way to Flavor Town (don't sue me, Guy). The cream is probably the best cream I've tasted in a dessert. The shells, while a little overwhelming at times (a bit too thick) complimented the cream. The best part about this dessert is that you can choose how much of the topping you want. If you prefer the shell, cool! If you want more of the cream, cool! There really is no wrong way to eat it. 

Meatballs, 2020

Things to know before you go:
- This is located next to a Chuck E. Cheese in a smallish parking lot. There is also parking in the back.
-Avoid the appetizers. Just save room for the (far superior) main course. 
- They do have a really nice Old Fashioned. I'd strongly recommend one of those. 
- This is one of those restaurants that will add to the experience if you have an awesome group to go with. I wouldn't suggest going alone, bring friends!

Do you enjoy a good Old Fashioned? Where is your favorite place to get a piece of lasagna? 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. 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!