That Food Guy
Friday, February 19, 2010
  Fiola's Italian Ristorante - St. Petersburg, FL
Click to enlarge - Fiola's Italian Ristorante in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Feola’s Italian Ristorante
7110 5th Ave No
St. Petersburg, FL
(727) 347-8415

Feola’s was always a favorite of my father-in-law, Sonny. Whenever it was running late and dinner had not been planned, Feola’s frequently got the nod. As for Sonny, he always selected the manicotti ($9.55); it was his particular favorite for many years.

Feola’s is a non-descript store-front Italian eatery in a small convenience store corner near St. Petersburg Collage. Driving by you would probably not even give it a second glance. It is one of those places you have to have heard of or know about. It is good enough that the regulars keep coming back for more.

So it was this day, the wife and I had a busy day and decided to call our order into Feola’s. Feola’s does boast of a small dining room and the wait-staff are friendly and attentive. But on this day it was to be take-out and the familiarity of our own dining nook. A look at our well worn copy of their full featured menu and we had our selection, A quick phone call and dinner would be ready for pick-up in a quarter hour.

Click to enlarge - Pepperoni Twist, a scrumptious pizza with a serving twist you will enjoy.Over the years I have sampled their pasta dishes, some with marinara, some with meat sauce and some with meat balls. All have been very good. I like their eggplant parmigiana as well. The dinners come with salad, a small side of spaghetti in marinara sauce and bread. Full dinners run from $8.55 for your choice of pasta in marinara sauce to $14.95 for veal Marsala. Pizzas, of course, are offered. It is your choice of thin, thick or pan crust pizza with a wide assortment of toppings to choose from. A small thin crust cheese pizza is $6.55. An extra large Sicilian special pizza will cost you $16.95. A child’s portion menu section is featured with the items averaging $4.95. Feola’s does offer eat-in luncheon specials, 11Am to 4PM daily, with selections starting at $4.95. For the locals, watch the mailbox and Sunday paper for Feola’s ads featuring discount coupons. When you pick up your first order, take home a call-in menu. On the backside will be more discount coupons for your next order.

Click to enlarge - Philly steak sub sandwich with peppers, onion and lots of gooey, melted mozzarella cheese.On this day the wife was intrigued by the Pepperoni Twist (small, $7.95) and decided to try that. I opted for the Philly steak sub sandwich with mushrooms, onions and peppers (large, $6.95). The twist is a pizza crust with the pepperoni and cheese, rolled and baked. It is then scored and served with a side of pizza sauce for dipping – a very different pizza presentation and you get as much or as little sauce as you like. The wife said her twist was very good and liked the novel way it was served. My sub was almost too hot to hold even after the short trip home. The large bun was filled with Philly steak, peppers and onions all covered with lots of hot, melted, stringy mozzarella cheese. It is a big sandwich and part of mine was set aside for a late night snack. I enjoyed it very much.

Feola’s is open Tuesday through Saturday at 11AM, closing 9 or 10PM. Sunday they are open 5PM to 9PM, closed Sundays.

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010
  Hometown Family Restaurant - Seminole FL
Click to enlarge - The Hometown Family Restaurant, Seminole Florida

Hometown Family Restaurant
10395 Seminole Blvd
Seminole, Florida
(727) 483-9420

Seminole Boulevard is a busy traffic corridor carrying shoppers, workers, tourists and local residents back and forth. Lots of drive by exposure and lots of local residents makes for a good restaurant location. In fact there are a lot of restaurants along that route and they all have to offer good value to keep the customers coming back. The Hometown Family Restaurant sClick to enlarge - Hot steamy chicken soup.eems to have hit just the right note with its customers. They keep coming back…
Click to enlarge - A nice large slice of quiche.
The Hometown is a favorite place for my gad-about-town buddy Tom and his wife. That means that on several occasions, after a day photographing the wildlife, we have stopped by Hometown for lunch. Over several meals I have come to appreciate what Hometown has to offer. The menu offers an eclectic mix of Greek, Italian, Deli offerings and American favorites. Prices range from $16 for a T-bone dinner to $5 or $6 for a deli sub or cheeseburger and fries. Breakfast is served anytime and two eggs with home fries (or grits) and toast can be had for $2.95.
On one occasion Tom ordered from the specials board and asked for the quiche and chicken soup. Creature of habit that I am, I ordered the bacon cheeseburger and fries. The soup and quiche, designed for the lighter eater, was still ample. The soup arrived hot and steaming along with crackers. It was a tasty soup with a nice rich broth with lots of chicken and noodles. Shortly thereafter the quiche arrived. A tender pastry crust was filled with an egg and vegetable mixture nearly an inch thick, the filling was nicely set with nicely browned top. It was quickly eaten with gusto.

Click to enlarge - Bacon cheeseburger with fries.My bacon cheeseburger arrived, served open face. There was a goodly portion of French fries and fully four full slices of crispy bacon atop the cheeseburger patty. Lettuce, a slice of tomato and a dill pickle spear completed the presentation. Grilled fully done but still juicy, the burger was tasty and had lots of nice crunch with all the bacon. The French fries were hot, just out of the fryer, the perfect fry, a fluffy interior and a crisp golden crust. It was an enjoyable lunch for the both of us.

Our latest outing brought us to the Hometown in the late morning. Tom and I made similar orders, almost copy cat. We both asked for the chicken fried steak witClick to enlarge - Chicken fried steak and an omelet.h white gravy and home Click to enlarge - Chicken fried steak and eggs over.fries. I asked for the eggs over medium and Tom asked for an omelet. He ordered whole wheat toast and I ordered white. The order came quite quickly. All the food was hot and in ample amount even for the hungry eater. The chicken fried steak was served with a steak knife but a fork was adequate to cut the meat. The breading was crispy fried and the meat inside cooked through, still flavorfully juicy. The gravy was thick and had a rich sausage flavor. Over breakfast Tom and I talked out the plans for the rest of the day and all too soon realized the meal was over. We lingered over coffee with frequent refills and no urgency on the part of the staff to move us along.

Click to enlarge - Luscious cherry Belgian waffle and whipped creamOn a visit some time ago, I opted for the cherry Belgian waffle. On a day you want carbs instead of the protein and fat, try the Belgian waffle. The plate-sized waffle was delightfully crisp as only that deep Belgian waffle pattern can make it. The top was loaded with cherry pie filling and smothered with mounds of whipped cream. I smiled when it was served. I could tell right off I was going to enjoy the decadent dessert-like creation for breakfast.

The Hometown is a family owned and operated restaurant and the mantra is good food, reasonable prices, a clean restaurant and customer service. Most of the staff are long term employees and extol the owner’s creed sincere manner. Not the fanciest restaurant on the row, it is a place where you feel comfortable, it is clean and you are treated well by a friendly staff and are served good quality food at a reasonable price. That makes it a comfortable place to return to for a nice meal and I have. Several times.

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Friday, February 05, 2010
  China King, St. Petersburg, FL
Click to enlarge. New York style sweet and sour chicken.

China King
6816 22nd Ave No
St. Petersburg, FL 33710
(727) 381-9588

A non-descript store front Chinese food take-out restaurant, China King of St. Petersburg, Florida, isn’t all that easy to find. It is in a small storefront wing of a shopping plaza, across 22nd Avenue from the Tyrone Square Mall. You either have to have driven past it on some other errands or received one of their menu-brochures in the mail to know it is there. There are many like it in the St. Petersburg area. They all feature almost identical menu selections and the food presentations are carbon copies of one another. Not all of the similar take-out restaurants have fared as well as China King which speaks of a satisfied clientele. China King does bill itself as New York style but I have found that is not always a good thing.
Click to enlarge. Sesame chicken with pork fried rice.Let’s get it out of the way, my personal peeve about New York style sweet and sour chicken. I expect sweet and sour chicken to be a stir fried dish with breaded fried chicken, stir fried vegetable to include onion, Bell pepper and pineapple, all tossed in a thick, usually clear red, sweet and sour sauce. I guess that would be Chinatown style, whereas the New York style (and all of the local area New York style take out shops offer the same commodity) is like some old chicken McNuggets and dipping sauce from the local drive-thru. No real comparison, sadly, it is not really sweet and sour chicken (beef or pork). That being said…
The China King offers a full menu of ala carte and combination dinners. Although there are a few tables and chairs, most people elect to take home rather than eat in. Most often we take advantage of their luncheon menu, (Monday through Saturday, 11AM opening to 3:30PM) an Click to enlarge. Moo goo gai pan and pork fried rice.entrée served with a choice of white or pork fried rice, a can of soda or an egg roll. It is a lot of food for $5.09, and with the exception of the aforementioned sweet and sour chicken, all of the entrees we have tried so far have proven to be very good and we keep going back for more.
Their sesame chicken is exceptional and one of our favorites. I was thoroughly satisfied with a recent sampling of moo goo gai pan; a few more mushrooms would be nice but otherwise excellent with large pieces of white chicken meat.
The staff has always been courteous and when someone at the front counter is busy, someone from the back will come forward to try and help. They all work well together. Even when they are busy, the orders are prepared to order in a surprisingly short time. Short on time? Stop in and they will have you on your way in short order with a tasty lunch big enough for two to share. China King also offers local area delivery with a minimum $10.00 purchase. Cash, Visa and Mastercard are accepted, sorry, no checks.

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