Those of you who have been reading this publication since the opening of Little Italy’s Family Restaurant & Catering on S.R. 54 in Lutz a couple of years ago know that not only do I love Little Italy’s food, but also owners Jessica and Carl Meyers.
So, I was thrilled when Jessica — aka “The Boss” — and Chef Carl said they were finally getting a beer and wine license. Not that I can’t enjoy a great meal without alcohol, but Italian “comfort foods” like everything I love at Little Italy’s just beg for Billy Joel’s “Bottle of Red…Bottle of White” or an ice cold Peroni beer.
Pasco County had awarded Jessica and Carl their beer and wine license shortly before we went to press with this issue and they should be serving red and white wine (by the glass, carafe and/or bottle) and bottled beers by the time this issue reaches your mailbox.
But for me, that’s not the big news at Little Italy’s, which also got a makeover a few months ago. The delicious news is that Jessica and Carl — thanks to multiple customer requests (not just from me) — have now added tender, delicious veal parmigiana to the menu, as well as veal saltimbocca and piccata, plus a couple of new shrimp dishes I can’t try because of my (ugh!) shellfish allergy.
Even so, I always include a couple of seafood pics from Little Italy’s on these pages because so many of you love shrimp, clams and mussels (I’ve never gotten my reaction from clams, for some reason, and Little Italy’s linguine with white clam butter sauce is among my favorites in our area).
But, let’s focus on the veal for a second. Jessica and Carl don’t pound their veal (“It breaks down some of the natural flavor and texture of the meat,” says Chef Carl), but it still cooks up nice and tender and the flavor? Well, let’s just say that for my money, there is no chicken parm that tastes as delicious as good veal parm — and Jessica’s red sauce and outstanding mozzarella definitely put Little Italy’s new veal dishes at the top of my list among all Italian restaurants and pizza places in New Tampa and Wesley Chapel.
And, even though I can’t eat shrimp, Little Italy’s new grilled shrimp appetizer features extra large-to-jumbo-sized shrimp that got some rave reviews during mine and Jannah’s most recent visit last week.
Another new menu item at Little Italy’s which I haven’t sampled yet, but can’t wait to try, is Jessica’s homemade potato gnocchi, which you can order with Alfredo sauce and shrimp, meat or marinara sauce.
Other starters we love at Little Italy’s are the bruschetta, the garlic bread, the homemade meatballs that made Jessica and Carl’s former food truck famous, and the crisp, but tender calamari.
My favorite salad is the Caprese salad, with beautiful, sliced tomatoes layered with slices of fresh mozzarella, all topped with a balsamic glaze reduction that isn’t as sweet as some balsamic reductions I’ve tasted.
As I’ve mentioned many times in these pages, I’ve never been the biggest calzone fan, but Little Italy’s calzones are so huge that most people who order them end up not only taking pictures of them, but also taking a large portion of their calzone home with them.
And, although Little Italy’s isn’t a “pizza place” per se, the homemade Sicilian-style pizzas are great for sharing for three or four people because no human being could possibly eat an entire rectangular pie by themselves.
As for the main courses we love, in addition to the veal and chicken parm and the linguine with clams, the spaghetti with those aforementioned (but worth mentioning again) meatballs, the chicken piccata, the baked penne, the so very yummy lasagne, as well as Jessica’s awesome eggplant rollatini or parmigiana. If you’re looking for something vegetarian, substantial and delicious, you can’t beat her eggplant. I also highly recommend the meatball parm “grinda” sandwiches, served on some of the best Italian bread in the area.
Seafood lovers also will go crazy for Little Italy’s fresh cioppino (with mussels, shrimp and clams), as well as the authentic New England “Lobsta” ravioli.
Little Italy’s For The Holidays?
Little Italy’s also is famous for its catering, including for virtually every Neighborhood News/WCNT-tv party since I first walked into this nondescript looking place a couple of weeks after Jessica and Carl first opened.
Jessica says you can rent the entire restaurant out for up to 35 people for your holiday office parties and large family events. “We’re also going to be open Christmas Eve day (Sunday, December 24), noon-5 p.m., so you can pick up your order that can be baked for your Christmas Day festivities,” she says. “Italian people also have to have lasagne or ziti and definitely meatballs with their Thanksgiving meals — doesn’t everyone? — so please order early.”
Little Italy’s, which also has a nice “Little Goombas” menu, also will be featured on an upcoming episode of “90 Day Fiancé” on The Learning Channel (TLC). “I can’t give more information about the show until it airs,” she says. “But it was pretty cool.” Jessica and Carl also were featured on a recent episode of WCNT-tv with yours truly.
Little Italy’s (24436 S.R. 54, Lutz) is open every day (except Mon.) for lunch (at noon) & for dinner. It stays open until 8 p.m., on Sun. and Tue.-Thur., and until 10 p.m. on Fri. & Sat. For more info, visit LittleItalyFamily Restaurant.com or their Facebook page or call (813) 909-2122.