My daughter and I had lunch at Pane Rustica in Tampa. This place is hidden amongst a slew of stores in a nondescript strip center. You would never expect to find such an incredibly successful restaurant that serves fresh, inventive and delicious tasting food inside this kind of store front unless you heard about it through the grapevine. They have been so successful in what they do, that they recently expanded their space to include a chic new bar, including two new dining areas for private parties or big groups. Their original space still remains with a walk-up lunch counter (pictured above). The place reminds you of a laid back cafe with an Italian-rustic kind of feel. The walls are pale yellow with an old-world plaster finish.
Pane Rustica makes their own bread, pastries, muffins and cookies from scratch and have fresh brewed herbal teas, coffees, wine and beer. They also have a fantastic lunch selection of prepared flatbread pizza's tempting you at the counter that include spinach and caramelized onion or arugula and roasted vegetables or whatever else the chef happens to create that day.
During lunch, you can order anything to go at the walk-up counter, or call ahead, or order right there and eat in. The staff will bring your food to your table wherever you choose to sit. However, if you come for dinner, it transforms into a sit-down, formal setting with a hostess seating you and waiters and waitresses taking your orders.
It is not a vegan place, but there are plenty of options to make it work for you. The ingredients are fresh, and they are more than willing to accommodate a vegetarian or vegan without hassle!
I ordered the grilled vegetable sandwich, minus the goat cheese medallion and requested it as a "salad". They state on their menu that they can make any sandwich into a salad. This was the first time I ordered this (as a salad) and it was FANTASTIC! Here is a picture:
The Grilled Vegetable Salad had a base of mixed greens, grilled eggplant, grilled zucchini, roasted red pepper, fresh red pepper, fresh cucumber, grape tomatoes, red onion, fresh green apples, a few blueberries, blackberries, a dollop of hummus on endive and fresh basil on top (I may have missed one or two things). I ate every bit of this with the balsamic dressing they served on the side. They also had a warm piece of fresh bread that I shared with my daughter.
My daughter had a slice of flatbread cheese pizza, which I have a picture of her biting into, but you won't see that photo here...she objected to me posting it. It is her favorite item and she always orders it. Aside from the wonderful flatbread pizza they serve here, they also have a tantalizing selection of Gelato. My daughter is a HUGE fan of Gelato, but unfortunately she indulged in a bake sale at school earlier, so we passed.
|A nice mother-daughter lunch at Pane Rustica|
If you want to learn more about Tampa's Pane Rustica and the husband and wife owners, click here: http://panerusticabakery.com/