Italians take their food very seriously and their main meal - "il pranzo" - is taken at lunch time. It begins with antipasti, followed by "il primo," consisting of pasta or minestrone, and is followed by "il secondo," or main course, consisting of meat or fish. Dessert and fruit are next, and finally, of course, there's coffee.
While US diners may not opt for all of these courses, there's no doubt that the love of Italian cuisine is alive and well on these shores - especially in the many bistros, trattorias and restaurants you'll find in this area.
Some are old, some are new but there are some you shouldn't miss, such as Pia's Trattoria, where you'll not only get delicious fare, you'll be treated to ambiance too. Gigi's Italian Restaurant on St Pete Beach offers no frills, but it showcases truly tasty cuisine.
For an exceptional experience, along with a delicious "shop op," be sure to visit Mazarro's Italian Market where you can spend hours poring over the tasty fresh food, baked goods, wines, olive oil and much more - before settling down for a nice lunch on their pretty patio.
Villa Gallace and Alfano's lead the list of "old" favorites, but don't overlook newcomers Sea Guini and Il Ritorno.