Wesley Chapel’s Favorite Restaurateur Upgrades His Bistro With A New Chef & New Menu Items!

(Above, l.-r.) Steve, Giulia and Micaela Falabella. Missing from the pic is Steve and Micaela’s other daughter, Mavi. 

Earlier this year, as owner Steve Falabella was getting ready to open his Falabella Family Bistro in The Grove, and started telling me about some of the menu items he was planning, I was already excited about it.

After all, Steve already had one of the best pizza places in Wesley Chapel (which is saying a lot because I think The Chap has a lot of really good pizza) — his 900º Woodfired Pizza in the Shops at Wiregrass — and as a true Italian raised in New York, I knew he could create a great bistro experience.

But, when Falabella Family Bistro did open in early June, the only thing I told Steve he could use was a little more diverse menu and maybe to add some fresh veggies.

Just a few short months later, as Steve was reunited with his new Executive Chef Chance Drake (who started with Steve as a dishwasher at 900º Woodfired ten years ago but who honed his chef skills at Noble Crust and Lake Jovita Country Club), he promised me that a revamped menu was on the way — and boy has Wesley Chapel’s favorite restaurateur delivered again, in a big way!

Although Chance will continue to offer a weekly special Friday-Sunday only (like the amazing rigatoni with broccoli rabe and sausage), only the most popular of Chance’s specials and other often-requested dishes have been added to the actual new menu at the Bistro.

My favorite new pasta dishes and entrées so far are the chicken piccata, the beef short rib ragu and the crispy fried zucchini, which is unlike any I’ve ever sampled, as the zucchini is cut into thin slices, rather than in traditional “sticks,” and the Roma tomato aioli dipping sauce also is a change from the always-popular marinara.

Other new “piattini” (small plates or starters) on the menu are the garlic baguette (garlic bread with a pomodoro dip and fresh basil), the broccoli and ricotta toast (with roasted broccoli, whipped ricotta, hot honey and fresh basil) and a ravioli flight I can’t sample because it includes lobster in the flight (along with sasuage, broccoli and five-cheese ravioli, all of which I can try).

I haven’t yet tried all of the new pastas and entrées, but look forward to sampling the Bistro’s new veal Marsala (I’ve had the chicken Marsala, which is yummy). I also can’t eat the garlic shrimp Alfredo (I hate allergies!), but Steve says it’s been extremely popular already.

And of course, among my already-on-the-menu favorites are the Vongole (spaghetti with clams), the classic spaghetti with meatballs, the chicken parmesan, the lasagna (with bechamel, instead of ricotta) the gnocchi Genovese (with house-made pesto sauce) and starters like the bruschetta, burrata caprese, the Caesar and Mediterranean salads and the crispy calamari.

Although I know a lot of Steve’s regular customers go crazy for the antipasto boards shaped like Italy and I do enjoy some of the panini sandwiches (my favorite is the pesto chicken), I honestly haven’t sampled many of either because I have so many favorites on the rest of the menu. I’m sure it’s my loss though.

Don’t Skip Dessert! 

While Jannah and I are usually trying not to eat dessert, it’s hard to skip the decadent desserts available at Falabella Family Bistro, especially knowing that they are supplied by Evelyn Barreno of Seven Layers Bakery. I’m particularly partial to the chocolate mousse cheesecake, the equally creamy tiramisu, the cannolis and the turtle and triple chocolate cheesecake options. I’ve yet to sample the affogato (vanilla ice cream “drowned” with hot espresso) or Macedonia (fresh fruit salad topped with whipped cream) desserts. 

I have sampled the Bistro’s outstanding cappuccino and Peroni beer on tap, and Jannah is partial to glasses of pinot grigio and prosecco. And, though his red wine list isn’t extensive, it’s also not too expensive, as the Casa Migliaccio Barolo is only $49.95 per bottle and there are two Nero d’Avolas for only $29.95 per bottle. Bottled beers, hard seltzers and wine cocktails and a reasonably priced kids menu are available. 

Falabella Family Bistro (6027 Wesley Grove Blvd.) is open for lunch (at 11 a.m.) & dinner (until 9 p.m. Sun.-Thur., 10 p.m. Fri.-Sat.) every day. For more information, visit FalabellaBistro.com or call (813) 428-6957.

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