Walking into Gratzzi Italian Grille feels like you’ve entered home. Albeit a very upscale and beautifully decorated home, but a location with a familiar sense of place nonetheless, even if one has never visited before. The first aspect of the spacious yet cozy eatery that catches the eye are the high-ceilings, upscale decorations and artwork (I was instantly drawn to a giant Salvador Dali that adorned the walls).
I was also captivated by the buzzing bar space, that seems to constantly teem with chatter from the voices of local and non-local regulars who have been visiting Gratzzi since its inception.
Gratzzi Italian Grille originally opened 20 years ago in the BayWalk shopping center (what is now Sundial St. Pete), prior to an expansion which led to its current location on the corner of 2nd street in University Village. The lavish locale has been a downtown St. Petersburg staple for more than two decades and has maintained its reputation with locals by serving up top-quality Italian cuisine, with a contemporary and upscale twist.
Chef Tony Mangiafico and co-owner Domenic D’Angelo both hail from Italy and have seeped their rich cultural roots into every aspect of the restaurant, even down to the authentic old-country recipes, passed down for generations. While Gratzzi is renowned for its welcoming atmosphere and traditional dishes, the menu offers delicious Italian-infused cuisine for everybody. From staples including handmade pastas, fresh salads, top-tier cuts of steak, fresh-fish catches and classic entrées, Gratzzi also features a line-up of unique specials and seasonal offerings, sometimes featuring exotic game like bison, alligator or ostrich eggs.
Along with the expansive dinner menu, Gratzzi also offers an early dinner menu, for diners everyday between 4:00-5:30pm at $18 per person, including choice of soup or salad, choice of entrée, and dessert. Gratzzi’s robust lunch menu, includes much of what is available for dinner, along with quick and accessible options, including pizza, classic insalatas and paninis. Even if you’re looking for more of a liquid-based meal, the happy hour specials are truly one-of-a-kind, with half off bottles of wine on Monday from 4-10pm and happy hour specials every day from 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm at the bar and 4:00 – 5:30 at tables, including $3.75 wine, beer, or well drinks.
We opted to visit for dinner, where we kicked-off our meal with a few glasses of their delicious house wine, a very delicious martini with blue-cheese stuffed olives and an array of appetizers including the Grilled Octopus special of the night and the Shrimp Arrabiatta, with Gulf shrimp, cherry tomatoes, roasted red peppers and spicy San Marzano marinara sauce, almost reminiscent of a tangy creole spice.
As a cheese lover, I was captivated by the idea of Richie’s Fried Burrata as I typically go for the classic version of burrata at every Italian spot that I visit. I’m telling you, Richie’s variation did not disappoint, featuring a creamy ball of fresh burrata with a crispy romano crust, fried and placed on pomodoro sauce resulting in a mind-blowing combination of yummy flavors and textures.
For the entrées, our group opted for some variation. I ordered the drool worthy Rigatonacci alla Vodka, made with handmade pasta filled with herbed ricotta, tossed with crispy pancetta, sausage, and peas in an Asiago Vodka cream sauce. This is a truly flavorful and comforting dish, making it the perfect pasta dish for spice lovers. All of our dishes came with either a soup or house/caesar salad.
We also ordered the Veal Saltinbocca Cosa Nostra, which is a St. Pete Foodies favorite, featuring tangy, salty, and tart amazing flavors for an umami-packed punch.
Every bite from just about every dish that was ordered felt like receiving a warm embrace from an Italian grandmother. Not to mention, every which way you turn you find yourself making a new friend or meeting a long-lost cousin (maybe not literally, but it surely feels like it). Along with fellow diners, it’s impossible not to feel a connection to the incredibly attentive and friendly staff, who make sure to provide unparalleled customer service for every diner.
Cut to the Filet Mignon, which was perfectly grilled for peak internal juiciness and then seared to perfection for the perfect charred crust. The steak is then finished with a Portobello mushroom and Barolo demi-glaze and served with four cheese mashed potatoes. No playing, Gratzzi’s steaks would rival that of any world-renowned steakhouse.
Although we didn’t order this time around, I MUST spotlight a St. Pete Foodies favorite dish – the signature Cavatelli Bada Bing, which is cooked table side, with handmade ricotta cavatelli, vodka flambéed in a pan and then poured inside of a giant Padano parmesan wheel with San Daniele prosciutto, tomatoes and basil and then stirred, as to prompt the gooey walls of cheese to melt and coat the pasta.
For once, we were too full for dessert, but definitely lusted after the homemade specials. We finished off with a shot of tart Limoncello, a traditional lemon-based Southern Italian digestif, meant to cleanse and refresh the taste palate after a full meal (also doesn’t hurt that it goes to straight to the head!).
As a first time visitor to Gratzzi, I walked out feeling incredibly happy, relaxed, full (and a little tipsy), but also so thankful to know that you can still walk into a place this day and age where everybody knows your name.
- Readers Rating
- Rated 4.8 stars
4.8 / 5 (Reviewers)
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- Gratzzi Italian Grille
- Italian Restaurant , Fine Dining St. Pete , Happy Hour St. Pete
- Fri - 11:00am - 11:00pm
- Sat - 12:00pm - 11:00pm
- Sun - 4:00pm - 10:00pm
- Mon - Thu 11:00am - 10:00pm
- Take Reservations: Yes!
- 211 2nd St. South , St. Petersburg , FL 33701 , USA
If you're craving classic Italian food in a classy environment, Gratzzi Italian Grille is the place to eat. Choose from your favorite sultry pasta, meat dishes, including chicken, seafood and veal among others. Gratzzi's menu offers an array of feasts to satisfy your Italian cravings, for lunch and dinner. Gratzzi Italian Grille is a family owned and operated neighborhood Italian restaurant located in Downtown St. Petersburg FL.