When Luigi Gallace, owner of the legendary trattoria Villa Gallace in Indian Rocks Beach, talks about his restaurant and guests, his smile grows wide and his eyes light up. Gallace is a man who is proud of his family’s hospitality. For the past 25 years, Gallace and his father, Pompeo, have created the kind of Italian cuisine, comfort and service that make memories for his patrons. “We love to make people happy and treat everybody who walks in the door like family,” says Gallace.
The Gallace family works hard to make sure every customer is delighted. Relationships built on a personal touch, combined with attention to detail in the kitchen, keep customers loyal and has made Villa Gallace successful for the past quarter-century.
Attention to detail and exacting standards shine through, even in simple dishes like the Caprese salad. The classic salad gets elevated by the quality and freshness of the ingredients themselves. Vine-ripe tomatoes, basil and fresh mozzarella cheese pair with fresh greens and capers, then dressed with a splash of olive oil.
This dish contrasts the sweetness of the tomato against the brine of the capers while crisp greens offset the soft cheese. It’s simple in its creation but a remarkable way to start a meal. Pasta is made in-house, starting with a mound of flour and eggs. Daily varieties include fettuccine, tortellini and rigatoni. Dress them in sauces such as carbonara, Bolognese, puttanesca or primavera. Gnocchi is a house specialty and shouldn’t be missed. Tossed into creamy marinara with portobello mushrooms, fresh basil and a touch of gorgonzola cheese, the Gnocchi Alla Villa Gallace is unique.
The slight tang from the cheese is both distinctive, and subtle, from the moment it glides across your taste buds. Entrees at Villa Gallace include classic Italian comfort dishes as well as steaks and chops. They are all delicious, but the show-stopping entrée is the tomahawk veal chop. It’s a tender, grilled veal chop sitting in a pool of Champignon mushroom demi glace.
The drama of the tomahawk rib is the crosshatch of the grill marks are attractive. The rich sauce is kissed with Marsala wine, giving it a hint of sweetness. It has a perfect smoky, charred crust. And the balance allows the mild flavors of the veal and mushrooms to bloom. You won’t find a tomahawk veal chop on the menu at many restaurants and the experience is worth a drive from anywhere in the Tampa Bay area.
Save room for dessert at Villa Gallace. The homemade tiramisu would make everyone’s Italian grandmother proud. The cannoli are filled with sweetened ricotta to order, ensuring a shell that stays crisp to the last bite. The limoncello cake is what dreams are made of. Layers of light, lemon cake are filled with limoncello mascarpone cream and topped with delicate white chocolate curls. The lemon flavor is front and center with the right balance of sweet and tart.
Villa Gallace has an extraordinary charm, kindled by hospitality and warmth of a bygone era: A time when restaurants were intimate, food was delicious,
service was gracious and the owners knew your name. ♦
NOTE: Villa Gallace is currently open and operating at 25 percent capacity due to COVID-19. Please call (727) 596-0200 for reservations. www.villagallace.com