If your family can’t always agree about what type of food to eat — you want delicious lasagne but your kids are asking for great cheeseburgers — you can both find plenty of favorites at the all-new Frammi American Grille and Italian Food, located in the space previously occupied by the popular Oakley’s Grille on Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd. in North Palms Village.
The restaurant has been owned by Luca and Erika Ammirati since August of 2018, but they kept the name as Oakley’s Grille until about a month ago, and they kept the menu virtually the same, with Luca adding some of his authentic Italian specialties a little at a time.
But, considering that Luca is from Napoli (Naples) in southern Italy and Erika is from a small town outside of Milano (Milan) in northern Italy, the two have a vast wealth of Italian dishes that they love sharing with hungry diners in New Tampa, Wesley Chapel and beyond.
When they were formulating the menu for Frammi, Luca says he and Erika wanted to keep as much of the all-American Oakley’s menu while incorporating an equally extensive selection of truly authentic Italian favorites. To that end, the Frammi menu is American on one side, but flip it over, and you’ll find Italian specialties on the other side.
“There are plenty of places in the New Tampa area serving American food and some serving Italian,” Luca says with his charming accent, “but we wanted to be the only restaurant in the area specializing in both.”
Great Grilled Specialties
Yes, Frammi still has those delicious Oakley’s hamburgers (with a dozen different options, including the popular ghost pepper burger and the bacon, egg & cheeseburger below), “Kars Katch” fried tilapia tenders, Philly cheesesteak and chicken Philly sandwiches, beef, chicken and fish fajitas and some of the best fries in the area.
But, Luca and Erika also have added sandwiches with Boar’s Head meats and cheeses, like the pastrami & swiss sandwich on marble rye bread, as well as a great corned beef Reuben.
And, although it’s not shown on these pages, the fried chicken sandwich also is excellent and is one of a half-dozen chicken sandwich choices, including my favorite, the unique Cajun chicken Cordon Bleu, topped with hot capicola and melted Swiss.
The Ammiratis’ Italian influence also is evident in the variety of hot pressed sandwiches, including the spicy Italian and Uncle Muzzie’s mufaletta.
Now, That’s Italian!
But, to be honest, I was much more interested in Frammi’s all-new Italian side of the menu, especially the incredible variety of pasta dishes.
There are favorites like pomodoro (fresh tomato sauce, Parmesan cheese and basil), two different ragus (not to be confused with the jarred sauce) — one with black angus beef (aka Bolognese) and an incredible ragu di salsiccia, with fresh Italian sausage. Luca says his favorite is the spicy pasta arrabiata and there’s also a puttanesca (with black and green olives, garlic, anchovies, tomato sauce and capers).
But, my favorites are the truly authentic meat lasagne (above), made with creamy bechamel sauce, instead of the more Americanized ricotta), the perfect pesto (which sticks to the pasta better than at most places) and especially, the vongole (tiny, fresh clams in their shells, made with diced tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, white wine, garlic and red chili pepper flakes.
Luca originally introduced me to his authentic fried meatballs more than a year ago, as he says in southern Italy, they don’t serve the meatballs in sauce, they’re served with a side of fresh tomato dipping sauce and garlic bread.
Other Italian specialties include a chunky bruschetta appetizer, a an antipasto Italiano with prosciutto, mortadella (also ham), salami, Parmesan cheese and house-baked bread), a “secondo platto” (second dish) of prosciutto e mozzarella (also with house-baked bread), a fried chicken “cotoletta” (served with fries), an eggplant (melanzana) parmigiana so popular it sells out all the time, fried calamari and several others.
There’s also a variety of freshly made salads and a reasonably priced kids’ menu, with everything from fish sticks to cheeseburger and more — all from $3.49-$6.99.
“Please be patient,” Luca says. “We are not serving fast food here. Everything is made to order — including Erika’s homemade tiramisu (above).”
And, everything I’ve sampled to date has been outstanding. I can’t wait to try more — and neither should you!
Frammi (17631 BBD Blvd.) is open every day, 11 a.m.-8 p.m., and offers delivery with Doordash, Mobile Meals & Uber Eats. For more info, call (813) 523-5075.