Oronzo Has A New Midtown Tampa Location, A New GM In New Tampa & Some Yummy New Menu Items! 

Even though its original location opened in The Walk at Highwoods Preserve plaza during the pandemic in the summer of 2020, the original location of Oronzo Honest Italian has been successful enough that owner Dan Bavaro decided to open a second location of his fast-casual, from-scratch Italian concept restaurant in the new Midtown Tampa development off I-75 at N. Dale Mabry Hwy.

Bavaro certainly is no stranger to success in the restaurant business. He also has opened four popular locations of Bavaro’s Pizza Napoletana & Pastaria (including St. Pete, Sarasota, on Franklin St. in Tampa and at Tampa International Airport), but Oronzo’s may be Bavaro’s most ambitious concept to date — one that he co-founded with the company that owns The Melting Pot restaurant.

“You’re getting Bavaro’s old-world, from-scratch Italian cuisine combined with The Melting Pot, which is know for experiences and customer service and we kind of merged those two together to create Oronzo,” Dan told Charley Belcher on a recent Fox 13 News feature about the new Midtown location.

Named for his grandfather Oronzo Bavaro, who emigrated to Brooklyn, NY, from Italy, Oronzo Honest Italian is New Tampa’s only place for actual homemade pastas (which you can watch being made in the open kitchen), plus flatbreads and burrito-style sandwiches made from piadina bread (which Bavaro says dates back to the 1800s) from the eastern Italian town of Rimini, located on the Adriatic Sea.

Whatever its roots may be, Oronzo features modern takes on not only many of the recipes created by Dan’s grandmother Angela Bavaro, but also on how to order, create, serve and enjoy made-from-scratch, fast-casual Italian cuisine.

Favorites Old & New!

We featured Oronzo around the same time last year in these pages, but there are several new menu items that have been added, as has new general manager Simon Luckett, who had been with Oronzo for less than two months when we interviewed him for this story.

“It’s a great place, with delicious food and happy customers,” Simon says (no pun intended). “Everything has been really great so far.”

As for the new dishes, one of my favorites is the healthy new Protein Bowl, which features a delicious base of farro and brown rice, with celery, onion, grilled chicken, soppresata pork, roasted mushrooms, garlic, heirloom tomatoes, roasted bell peppers, feta cheese and homemade pesto dressing. So good!

Another savory (albeit less healthy) new dish is the meatball (or chicken) parm Italian burrito, with homemade spaghetti, your choice of sauce, fresh mozzarella and parmesan wrapped in homemade piadina bread. Not only are they super-tasty, it’s also fun to watch them being made!

The new dish I was shocked that I enjoyed was the pasta and Impossible Bolognese (left) with gluten-free rotini pasta. Photographer Charmaine George and I agreed that the Impossible meat substitute looked and tasted like ground beef and you can choose your favorite pasta to go with it.

And, while you also can still get a variety of delicious cracker-crisp flatbread-style pizzas made with Oronzo’s homemade piadina bread (like the American with pepperoni and San Marzano tomatoes pictured on the previous page), also new to the Oronzo menu — but only available at the Midtown Tampa location at our press time — are artisan pizzas with a more traditional crust. Simon says (oops, I did it again) that the artisan pizzas also should be available in New Tampa soon.

But, our favorite menu items at Oronzo still include the amazing zucchini noodles (Jannah loves them with grilled chicken and homemade pesto, but you can also order it “meatless,” with pomodoro (red), spicy arrabiata, crema (white) or butter and extra virgin olive oil. If you’re not a fan of zucchini noodles (but I think you should try them before you decide), you can get your choice of sauces with Oronzo’s homemade spaghetti, imported Pastaficio DiMartino penne or the gluten-free rotini, and you can add homemade meatballs (which also are available as an appetizer), heirloom tomatoes, roasted mushrooms, and bell peppers. 

Oronzo also features a nice selection of fresh salads and soups (Jannah loves the tomato basil soup).

For dessert, try the new Nutella piatto (right)or my long-time favorite cannoli crisps, with the cannoli cream on the side as a dip. There’s also Italian wedding cookies and a variety six pack of French-style macarons.

Oronzo also features a kids menu, plus white and red wines, Peroni Italian beer on draught, espresso drinks, a Coca-Cola soda fountain and the tasty Oronziata (a house-made blood orange beverage) and bottled versions of the red sauces for retail sale. 

Oronzo Honest Italian (18027 Highwoods Preserve Pkwy.) is open 11 a.m.-8 p.m. weekdays (9 p.m. on Fri. & Sat.). For info, visit Oronzo.com or call (813) 730-0100.

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