If you are a regular reader of our blog, then you know we here at NHIE love us some good ‘old Ciccio’s Restaurant Group food joints (check out our post about one of their other locations, The Green Lemon). So when we were invited to head out to Brandon to try out their newest location, Ciccio Cali, we KNEW we were in for some good eats! Allison and I couldn’t pass this up plus we love good company. With a couple extra seats to share, I invited our friend, Baily, from Swann Ave Market (payback for the Brews with Attitudes hookup) and Megan from, I Run For Wine (payback for the Margaritafest tix we snagged from her blog). First off, we are NOT typical Brandon goers, unless we are doing a “Costco run” or a trip to Bed, Bath and Beyond, so we were instantly intrigued by the idea of the SoHo popular Ciccio’s having a new location out “that way”. All jokes aside, the drive was only about 20 minutes and let me tell you, after all was said and done…IT WAS WELL WORTH IT! Walking in, we immediately noticed the Ciccio Restaurant Group’s decor style that makes each of their locations so unique. The all white subway tiled walls around the bar made for a clean backdrop for the pops of bright colors happening throughout the restaurant. The menu’s structure was familiar, a variety of “bowls”, salads, and an array of fancy HUGE drinks!After meeting the manager, Ryan, we got seated and began with a couple of drinks. The waitress (who was fantastic) brought us some of Ciccio’s signature drinks. She dropped off two Maximosa’s, basically a goblet of mimosa with a small bottle of champagne in it and two Slamgria’s- one red and one white. After playing roulette with the ladies on who would drink what, we settled our choices and began sipping away. We all agreed the drinks were delicious and the thought of a brunch with drinks like these a-flowing excited us for more.
We started off the “solid” portion of our evening with some bites, aka appetizers, to share. They brought out an order of Garlic Lime Edamame and a Tony’s Chicken Marsala Pizza. Both were full of flavor and… drumroll please… our overall favorite was the pizza.
Following the apps, we tried to keep our appetites up by ordering some of the other delicious options. The first thing you have to decide is if you want a bowl, a stir- fry or a wrap. I went for the Hot Sweet Stir Fry, chicken, peppers, pineapple, stir-fry veggies and some sweet and spicy sauce (Pictured below in the bottom right corner). It was full of flavor, but maybe too much flavor for my liking. I am not a HUGE spicy kind of guy, but the dish sounded too good to pass up. It was delicious, don’t get me wrong, but just a TAD bit more spicy than I would like.
Megan ordered the Lemongrass, shown in the top right above, which is a thai spin on the typical chicken stir-fry. Megan commented that it was pretty delicious. Baily opted for the Hot & Crunchy Tuna bowl, which was topped (below) with my favorite, avocado! Baily raved that the tuna was delicious and I even taste-tested some tuna from Allison’s Citrus bowl (which she opted for BOTH the tuna and chicken, as suggested by the waitress as the best choice). I am not typically a tuna fan, but the tuna from the two bowls ordered was cooked so well, I was very impressed.
As you can see, the drinks were ginormous but we manged to drink all of them (obviously) and the night ended with one of the BEST parts of the whole dinner….HOMEMADE COOKIES! The cookie we had was a chocolate peanut butter cookie, basically a cookie with a peanut butter cup smashed in the center. I ended up buying an extra to bring home for Ryan and let’s just say, it only lasted a few days.
All in all, the experience was ABOVE AND BEYOND my expectations and I think this new location is going to KILL IT! Not only did we have delicious food, but our overall experience at the location gets an A++. Ryan and his team were so friendly and definitely know what they’re talking about when making meal suggestions. On top of all the awesomeness we experienced on our first visit, they also have some other specials that sounds TOO GOOD to pass up! See the deets below! Spoiler alert: BRUNCH and $2 Tuesdays! 🙂
When you are able to get out to Ciccio’s, tell them NHIE Tampa Bay sent you and be sure to grab a cookie before you go! You WON’T be disappointed!