With my date night outfit picked out and ready to go, pH and I headed to International Plaza last weekend for dinner at Pelagia Trattoria, a culinary gem nestled on the first floor of the Renaissance Hotel, offering guests an array of modern Italian dishes.
I'd heard a lot about Pelagia prior to this visit and how the restaurant is known for its house-made pasta and entrees made with only the freshest and most flavorful ingredients sourced from local farms. Since I'm a sucker for all things Italian, carbs and savory, I was super excited to indulge my palette.
Our server greeted us and immediately brought out a warm loaf of seasoned bread along with a creamy butter blended with sea salt. It was flavorful and light, and the bread was a good consistency - slightly crusty on the outside, and warm and fluffy on the inside.
There were so many items on the menu that sounded delicious, and I had to tell myself to first focus on selecting an appetizer. Our server emphasized how fresh the seafood options were, so we put in an order of Steamed Pei Mussels and also ordered the Mediterranean Octopus.
The Steamed Pei Mussels were my favorite and I absolutely recommend this as an antipasta. The mussels were perfectly cooked, not overdone and not undercooked, and the flavorful, garlicky sauce was amazing paired with both the mussels and the slices of toast they were served with.
If you enjoy experimenting with different flavors, the Mediterranean Octopus is a great option for you. The sliced octopus is served atop a light carrot and tomato puree, and the garlic and mint marinade provided the octopus with a refreshing taste.
After our appetizers, we took a little more time to decide on our main courses. Because I can't ever resist a house-made pasta and pH is a lover of all things meat, I ordered the Potato Gnocchi, while he ordered the Braised Lamb Shank.
The Potato Gnocchi was amazing and you'll be thrilled to find out that Pelagia does not skimp out on the meat. Served with a dollop of house-made ricotta cheese, I honestly consider this gnocchi one of the best I've ever had. If I could come back weekly just for Pelagia's Potato Gnocchi, I would.
pH's entree was equally as amazing. The Braised Lamb Shank was served with a saffron risotto and fresh vegetables that were perfectly cooked - still slightly crisp, just how we love our vegetables prepared. The risotto was hearty and flavorful, and complemented the lamb shank very well. pH ate the entire dish, and only the bone was left on the plate.
The bread, appetizers and entrees were enough to fill us up, but when we were offered a dessert menu, of course we couldn't resist! We opted for light and refreshing, and ordered the Gelato Sampler, with chocolate, strawberry and pistachio gelato. The gelato was served with mini macarons and biscotti slices, and was the perfect palate cleanser after a hearty meal. I couldn't resist ordering a cappuccino, either - it's a must for me when it comes to dessert!
pH ordered one of Pelagia's house-infused grappas to pair with his dessert. Grappa is basically a pomace Italian brandy, and contains about 35-60% alcohol by volume, so nice and strong. He opted for the strawberry-infused grappa, which looked stunning in the restaurant's lights. Since I was driving, I didn't taste it, but he highly recommends this dessert drink if you're a whisky or scotch-lover and want something a little more sweet.
Dining at Pelagia Trattoria was a wonderful experience, and I will definitely be back for the Steamed Pei Mussels and the Potato Gnocchi. If you haven't experienced Pelagia for you yourself, you need to give this culinary gem a try - you won't regret it!
Pelagia Trattoria is located in the Renaissance Tampa International Plaza Hotel at 4200 Jim Walter Blvd. in Tampa and is open for breakfast daily from 6:30 to 10:30 a.m., lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and dinner from 5:30 to 10 p.m. You can check out the menus here.
*Disclosure: The meal featured in this post was provided by International Plaza for an honest review. Opinions expressed here are my own and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of International Plaza or Pelagia Trattoria.