Beautifully delicious: The atmosphere and cuisine at Donatello are simply elegant (PHOTOS)

Diners feel special every time they go to Donatello. For decades, the Tampa restaurant has defined fine Italian dining and stepping into the dining room transports you to a world that delights the senses. Tables adorned with roses are draped with pink cloths and napkins. Pendant fixtures hang overhead and provide dramatic lighting. Black-jacketed waiters, speaking fluent Italian, glide through the hushed room while entrees bubble in chafing dishes waiting to be plated, and presented, to guests. A buffet table greets guests, just inside the dining room, and displays the pastry chef’s dessert selections. It is lined with cakes, tarts and Italian pastry. 

Donatello, named for the famous Italian artist, is filled with artwork. From the gilded paintings on the walls to the beauty served on its plates, Donatello offers a sanctuary from the stresses of life and a sumptuous repast perfect for romance and celebration. 

Caio Delizioso!

Pasta often is served as a starter, and the capellini D’Angelo Amalfi is a great choice. A small nest of pasta strands as thin as an angel’s hair peaks through a simple tomato sauce and fresh basil. The first bite showcases the elevated execution of this dish. The flavor and bite of the pasta are perfect and the sauce sets the standard for all tomato-based-sauces. It’s lush, and true, slightly acidic and coats your tongue with the essence of tomato flavor.

Another option is oysters Florentina. Fresh, plump oysters are shucked and nestled into a bed of spinach, sitting in an oyster half-shell. A sauce of white wine, shallots and heavy cream, aerated with unsweetened whipped cream, is laced over the top. A sprinkle of Parmesan dusts the top before browning. The result is nothing short of spectacular. The flavors of the oyster, and spinach, shine through the light cream sauce. Oysters Florentina, along with a chilled bottle of Cristal, or glass of Piper Heidsieck, is the perfect start to a celebratory dinner.

Un Ampio Sorriso

The entrée pasta selection includes a variety of shapes, sauces and enhancements. Paglia fieno e fungi combine egg and spinach fettucine with a mix of fresh wild mushrooms. It’s tossed in a white wine sauce with a whisper of red pepper flake. The flavors of the pasta are nuanced by the wine, while the pepper flake sparkles on the back of the throat. The colorful presentation is enough to elicit a grin but the taste transforms the grin into a wide smile.   

Semplice, Elevato, Spettacolare

Fruite di mare combines scallops, calamari, clams, mussels and shrimp, tossed with fettucine for a flavorful seafood pasta. And if you love shrimp, order the scampi Veneziana. Colossal prawns are sauteed with diced tomatoes, white wine and lemon butter. The presentation is striking while the flavor of the shrimp is enhanced by the butter and tomatoes.

In another selection, a generous sprinkle of crisp garlic chips crowns a rack of Colorado lamb studded with fresh rosemary. There is a nice crust on the lamb. The meat is flavorful and the garlic chips prove the chef’s attention to detail and process. It’s easy to overcook garlic resulting in a mushy clove. That’s not the case with these chips. The golden-brown crust on the outside gives way to a firm texture inside. Each element complements the other and defines the magic when the best quality ingredients are expertly prepared.

I Sogni Diventano Realta

One of the most memorable entrées is Vitello dolce vita. Veal scallopini is sauteed with prosciutto cotto and mushrooms. The pan is deglazed with white wine. Then fresh sage is tossed in before a kiss of demi-glace swirls it all together. Shaved black truffles are the final touch. The veal is fork-tender, the prosciutto is crisp and the mushrooms are bursting with the flavors they’ve absorbed along the way. The dish is savory, earthy, salty and visits me in my dreams at least once a week.    

Il Dolce Finale

Two desserts stand out. The chocolate mousse cake combines layers of cocoa sponge with enlightened chocolate mousse. Chocolate jimmies adorn the cake and add a crunchy texture plus another layer of chocolate flavor. This is light with a rich cocoa flavor that’s not too sweet. It pairs well with an espresso martini or a snifter of DiSarrono. Another dessert, a traditional ricotta cheesecake, is on the opposite end of the spectrum. A rich ricotta-based vanilla cheesecake is crowned with a selection of seasonal mixed berries. The cheesecake is perfectly executed, wonderfully flavored and the quintessential finale to dinner.

On the way out, don’t be surprised if a distinguished Italian gentleman offers women a single long-stemmed rose. Like Donatello itself, the rose is a symbol of beauty, and a reminder that simplicity and quality is all you need.

[image_slider_no_space on_click=”prettyphoto” height=”300″ images=”14261,14260,14259,14258,14257″]

You May Also Like

Kristina Lavallee’s cake business is ready to rise to the next level

For Kristina Lavallee, life keeps getting sweeter. Founder and namesake of local dessert company, The Cake Girl, Lavallee’s rise to success is already a sweet tale. She first dreamed of

A Lakeland gem with Peruvian and Cuban influences (PHOTOS)

Nestled between the bustling cities of Tampa and Orlando, Lakeland, a quaint town in Polk County, might not be the first place that comes to mind when one thinks of

Exploring the richness of Mexican flavors at Lona (PHOTOS)

While the Tampa Designated Market Area encompasses eleven counties, Hillsborough County stands out in the culinary scene with three Michelin One Star restaurants – Koya, Lilac and Rocca – all

See the new BellaBrava set to open North Tampa location in December (PHOTOS)

2BHospitality plans to open a new location of BellaBrava, in Land O’ Lakes, in December. The company’s third BellaBrava restaurant, BellaBrava Bexley, will be nearly 8,200 square feet, at 16722

Other Posts

Lilac’s epicurean journey is elevating the Tampa dining scene (PHOTOS)

The culinary experiences available for distinguished palates, in the Tampa market, are flourishing, especially with the welcome addition of three recipients of a Michelin One-Star rating in the region. What

Music-focused cocktail lounge to open in Water Street Tampa

Alter Ego, a music-focused cocktail lounge, plans to open in Water Street Tampa, in early 2024. Located in Asher, at 1050 Water St., Alter Ego is locally owned, and operated,

Go inside Beacon the JW Marriott’s rooftop cocktail lounge (PHOTOS)

Beacon, Tampa’s newest rooftop lounge at the JW Marriott Tampa Water Street, opened on Friday, October 6. Beacon has several lounge areas, including an outdoor terrace, a signature bar and

Three Oaks Hospitality prepares to open concept in Hyde Park Village (PHOTOS)

Three Oaks Hospitality plans to open Ro, a modern Asian dining restaurant, in Hyde Park Village, in Tampa, in October. The restaurant says it will receive daily deliveries from Tokyo’s