The Usual Place
One of the Best Italian Restaurants in Sarasota, FL
I finally had the opportunity to try The Usual Place, now one of my favorite Italian restaurants in Sarasota. The owners and chefs are straight from Rome and Venice, Italy and arrived 7 months ago with authentic homemade pastas, breads, pizzas, wonderful service and presentation. Giuseppe and Allessio the chefs, and Marco all were wonderful hosts. Rumor has it that Allessio is a mean pizza dough thrower. I can’t wait to go back and try the pizza which I hear is the best in Sarasota. Having been to Italy twice in the last three years, I went in expecting authenticity. The Usual Place blew me away. They have been open for about two months and I suspect once word gets out, it will be difficult to get a table. As an American who would love to spend a few months in Italy every year, it is great to know there is a place that can transport me, at least temporarily.
The Usual Place is located just off the Route 41 on the east side of Siesta Drive, 2157 Siesta Drive to be exact. It is unassuming from the outside. Think of one of those places that is a hidden gem. Once inside, it is open style with a friendly vibe from the moment you walk in. I felt like I was back in Italy being greeted by the owners and getting way more food than you asked for or could possibly finish.
Authentic Italian Cuisine
Let’s talk authentic. On a prior visit to peek at the menu, I was able to speak with Alessio, Chef and Owner. He proudly stated that The Usual Place gets most of their ingredients imported from Italy. If a certain item is not available, they don’t serve it. They will accommodate Italian American dishes such as Chicken Parmesan, but really prefer to show guests a true experience of Italian cuisine. The menu is a combination of northern and southern Italian. Because some guests may have a different take on Italian cuisine, they will make anything that guests request if it is not on the menu. If you are however looking for authentic Italian cuisine, this place is for you. Let’s talk really fresh pasta. The gnocchi and linguini are handmade everyday, the bread made on premises and the speck and truffles imported from Italy. Lunch and dinner menus are the same however lunch offers 20% off the price.
Dinner started with a surprise from the chef with an appetizer we did not order. Goat Cheese sprinkled with Teaberry dust displayed beautifully on a spoon wrapped with a thin crostini. We ordered the cured meat and cheese platter to start which instantly took my friend and I back to Italy. We traveled there together and many times, you have a platter like that for breakfast. I ordered the Stinco al Forno (Pork Shank). I will go out on a limb by saying it is the best I have ever had. It was moist and hearty with the perfect amount of gravy atop a mound of smooth mashed potatoes. It is cooked in beer which gives it the moist and delicious flavors along with the carrot, celery, onion and pink pepper. My friend was on a strict diet which can be a challenge in an Italian restaurant however her salad with grilled beef gave her a delicious protein filled, no-carb dish perfectly rounding out the dinner. My friend talked me into splitting the dessert (although I think I felt inclined to eat most of it since she was on a diet after all). The tiramisu, cream puff and panna cotta were light, creamy and fresh. The owner brought us another surprise with dessert. A homemade, warm drinking chocolate liquor that put me over the top. It was so delicious, they brought us a refill. Everyone in this establishment confirmed what I love about Italian food and hospitality. They are working on a world class wine list however their selections were nice compliments to their menu.
The Usual Place is a Winner
If you are looking for homemade pasta, fresh bread, delicious pizzas and an authentic Italian experience with an artistic flair at a very reasonable price, then The Usual Place should be your next “Go To Place”. Be prepared to meet the chef and owners and have an unforgettable experience. Chef Alessio ensures everything is beyond your expectations. At some point, the the owners plan to have old Italian movies with Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastrianni. This is a winner!
The Usual Place
2157 Siesta Drive, sarasota, FL
Posted by Laura Raymond, Editor
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