The Grill at Morris Bridge, Stonewood & Via Italia Repeat As Gary’s Top-3 In New Tampa! 

he only tomahawk ribeye steak you’ll find on a menu in New Tampa is at The Grill at Morris Bridge, which is Neighborhood News editor Gary Nager’s favorite restaurant in New Tampa for the second year in a row. 

Every year, after our readers’ favorite restaurants in New Tampa and Wesley Chapel are published, I like to provide our readers with my own list of favorites — and there are always lots of differences between your choices and mine. 

I also always have a few haters every year who say that my reviews aren’t “real,” that I only pick my favorites based on which restaurants advertise with me and/or give me free food, that I have no taste whatsoever, etc. 

The primary thing these haters don’t seem (or want) to understand or believe is that the restaurants I tell you about in my annual “Gary’s Favorites” are not just the places I like the most, they’re also the places where I spend the most of my own money. And yes, when you consider that there are literally dozens of restaurants named, Jannah and I do spend a lot of our money dining out (and taking out food) — I’m betting more than just about anyone else in our two distribution areas, especially when you take into consideration our combined annual income. 

The haters also don’t seem to “get” the other reason I give my opinions on local eateries every year is that I so appreciate the feedback — both positive and negative — I get after my “Gary’s Favorites” are published each year. 

I can’t even tell you how many people come up to me and Jannah when we’re sitting at the bar at The Grill at Morris Bridge, TrebleMakers, Stonewood, Zukku-San, Azteca D’Oro or any of our other favorite eateries to tell me what they think of my opinions. The vast majority of them say things like, “I only even tried this place because of what you wrote about them” or “I didn’t really love this place the first time I tried it, but I decided to give it another try because of you.” If you’ve never felt that kind of love from absolute strangers before, I promise you that it’s one of the things that most makes the long hours I still put in 30 years since I first started doing this job worthwhile. 

And yes, a few people also come up to me to tell me that they totally disagree with my assessment of one restaurant or another. Others also tell me that they read my reviews “even though I know they aren’t real.” 

But the fact is that whether my haters believe it or not, my dining reviews are 100% real. And, unlike the online trolls who think they’re dining “critics” because they tell their few followers that they hated something they ate (or the service they received) at a particular place, I tell every restaurant owner in our area that when I write a review of their eatery, I will tell more than 170,000 of my “closest friends” (that’s the total possible number of readers we reach in print) everything I like about their place. Anything I don’t like I will tell the restaurant owner about — and pretty much all of them appreciate this approach a lot more then online trolls who cause their overall online ratings to drop. 

Although a number of new restaurants did open in New Tampa in 2023 — with the reopening of Kobé Japanese Steakhouse in its new location as the biggest news (although it happened too late for our readers to vote for it, it came in at #9 for me) — my top-25 Favorite restaurants in New Tampa didn’t change too much from 2022. In addition to Kobé, the only other “newcomers” to crack my top 25 were Johnny C’s Italian Eatery on Cross Creek Blvd. at #8 and Zio’s NY Bagel & Deli in the Pebble Creek Collection at #20, although I did also enjoy sampling many of the new restaurants in the Sijang Eatery food court at the new Lotte Plaza Market, as well as the unique Bang- Bang! Bowls in the Pebble Creek Collection. Feel free to tell these restaurant owners that I sent you and, as always, I welcome your feedback, both good and bad. 

1. The Grill at Morris Bridge  

10920 Cross Creek Blvd., Cross Creek Commons 

(813) 388-5353

Since opening in late 2021, The Grill at Morris Bridge finished as the second Favorite Restaurant in New Tampa with our readers last year and third in this year’s voting, even though it has been #1 with me both years, thanks to its always-fresh fish (the bacon parmesan crusted grouper shown here replaced the same dish with mahi-mahi in 2023) and great steaks. In fact, The Grill’s bone-in tomahawk ribeye (see pg. 1), which is now a regular menu item, is the only true tomahawk in New Tampa or Wesley Chapel. 

Brothers Frank and Jimmy Gouveia also offer one of our area’s best Sunday brunches, the most extensive wine list of any local restaurant, craft cocktails and always-excellent service. 

2. Stonewood Grill & Tavern  

17050 Palm Pointe Dr., Pointe at Tampa Palms 

(813) 978-0388 

Stonewood’s run as the favorite with our readers continued for an eighth straight year in 2023, and it again comes in just below The Grill with yours truly. 

The quality of the fresh fish, steaks (like the unique hand-cut Manhattan strip steak, usually offered as a special, in this picture), pastas and even Jannah’s favorite bowl (the Southwest chicken bowl) in New Tampa, plus the always-packed bar scene make Stonewood an outstanding choice, whether it’s number 1, 2 or lower on your list. 

Like The Grill, Stonewood isn’t inexpensive, but there are plenty of much lower-priced restaurants to fill that need for you in our area that can’t match Stonewood’s quality or variety. 

3. Via Italia Wood Fired Pizza & Bar  

8644 Hunter’s Village Rd. 

Village at Hunter’s Lake 

(813) 475-4857 

With four of my favorite pasta dishes — the linguine alle vongolé (with clams), cavatelli con salsiccia (sausage) & broccoli rabe and two different types of pesto (Sicilian and the Genovese shown above) — and the biggest variety of gourmet pizzas in town, the only things keeping Via Italia from finishing higher with me are some fresh fish and maybe a steak or veal chop. Love the bar, too! 

4. Lima Peruvian Cuisine  

19062 Bruce B. Downs Blvd. 

New Tampa Center 

(813) 304-0205 

Where do you go when you love ceviche but can’t eat shrimp? Why, Lima of course! I also love the Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken, the unique Chinese fusion dishes like lomo (lo mein) with steak or chicken, and I regularly crave a helping of ceviche with giant corn kernels and Lima is the only place I can enjoy it in New Tampa. 

5. Las Palmas Latin Grill 

6431 E. County Line Rd. (off BBD Blvd.) 

(813) 991-5500 

Even though Las Palmas isn’t “new,” since it did have a food truck at the same plaza all year in 2022, owners Ramses and Ana Garcia’s Las Palmas moved way up on my list this year when they reopened their brick-and-mortar location a couple of months ago. Ramses’ merluza (white fish) a la Rusa (photo) is as good as it gets and his flank steak churrasco, vaca frita (fried steak), picadillo and roast pork also rock. 

6. Fat Rabbit Pub 

16029 Tampa Palms Blvd. W. 

City Plaza at Tampa Palms 

(813) 252-3004 

This “Upscale Neighborhood Pub” truly lives up to its name, as you can’t really call the Fat Rabbit just another “sports bar.” From the best wings and tater tots in town to outstanding grilled chicken sandwiches and big burgers (or choose the burger sliders shown above), plus craft cocktails & lots of whiskeys and that unique bar vibe, what’s not to love? 

7. Frammi American Grill & Italian Food  

17631 Bruce B. Downs Blvd. 

North Palms Village 

(813) 523-5075 

The restaurant formerly known as Oakley’s Grille still has great burgers, fries and other American food, but for yours truly, the attraction of Frammi will always be its outstanding Northern and Southern Italian fare. My favorite dish is the vongole (pasta with baby clams above), but the spicy arrabiata, less spicy Amatriciana, penne alla vodka, lasagne, eggplant parm and pesto options are what keep me coming back. 

8. Johnny C’s Italian Eatery  

10970 Cross Creek Blvd. 

(813) 278-8020

From having no true Italian restaurants a few years ago to now having three that make my top-10 favorites in New Tampa, this highest-ranking (for me) newcomer offers great Italian comfort foods, like pizza, the meatball parmigiana appetizer above, chicken parm, Momma’s lasagna and penne alla vodka, as well as a variety of popular seafood dishes I can’t eat. 

9. Kobé Japanese Steakhouse   

17641 Bruce B. Downs Blvd.. North Palms Village 

(813) 680-5800 

I guess I didn’t realize how much I missed the quality of Kobé until it reopened late last year, but wow, between the best filet mignon (photo) hibachi in New Tampa or Wesley Chapel — and even a Japanese Wagyu steak & lobster combo — and the perfect hibachi veggies, lo mein and fried rice, plus pretty good sushi, it’s nice to have Kobé back in New Tampa — and in my top-10 favorites in 33647. 

10. Acropolis Greek Taverna 

14947 Bruce B. Downs Blvd. 

Oak Ramble Plaza 

(813) 971-1787 

From the grilled lamb chops above to the Athenian fish, saganaki (fried cheese) appetizer and more, the recently redecorated Acropolis found its way back into my top-10 for 2023, with or without belly dancing or hookah pipes. 

Gary’s 2023 Favorite Restaurants In New Tampa #s 11-25 

11. Woodfired Pizza (Bearss) 

12. Liang’s Bistro 

13. Cantina Real Mexican 

14. Cali Tampa Palms 

15. Bayscape Bistro 

16. Ha Long Bay 

17. Sushi Café 

18. Gorkhali Kitchen 

19. Thai Ruby 

20. Zio’s NY Bagel & Deli 

21. Thai Lanna 

22. EggTown 

23. Peabody’s Restaurant, 

Bar & Billiards 

24. Fresh Kitchen 

25. Michi Ramen 

Recommended Posts

No comment yet, add your voice below!

Add a Comment