I’m not the kind of guy to take it lightly when a delicious new restaurant opens anywhere near our area, but with limited “real” Italian food options in New Tampa or Wesley Chapel, I was really excited to find a great, new classic Italian restaurant located, of all places, at 214 E. Bearss Ave. at N. Florida Ave., not exactly a hub for sit-down restaurants.

But, the new, second location of Oggi Italian — the other is on Davis Islands — has everything from the most delicious tossed salad to a variety of savory roasted chicken dishes and, best of all for those of us who crave great pasta, the best al denté penne pasta you’ll find for miles around.

Owner Joe DeBartolo previously owned Fettuccine Street restaurant on Fletcher Ave., but has created a stir in South Tampa with the Davis Islands location of Oggi and I hope to do the same for his Bearss Ave. location, which is only a 10- or 15-minute drive from the southern tip of Tampa Palms.

The photo is the “Specialita della Casa” at Oggi, the pollo margherita, which is pounded-thin-and-breaded chicken breast, topped with house-made mozzarella, marinara, fresh basil and roasted pomodori tomatoes, served on a bed of  truly al denté mini-penne pasta that I could eat every day if I had to. It’s a delightfully different take on chicken parmigiana (which also is available) that should not be missed.

Oggi has a somewhat limited menu, but even the fresh Italian bread and that amazing house salad served with every entrée by themselves are worth a short drive to check it out — and don’t forget to tell Joe (a New Tampa resident) and his staff that you read about them in the Neighborhood News!.

And, Oggi also has craft beers on draft and a small selection of outstanding wines at very fair prices, with a daily Happy Hour from 4 p.m.-6 p.m. For more information, visit OggiTampa.com or call (813) 908-7778.

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