A fresh take on white linen dining at Armani’s in Tampa Bay

Due to my relationship with Tampa Bay Bloggers, I was invited to Armani’s to try their new Happy Hour, where they shared several menu and cocktail options with us. All opinions are my own.

In Tampa Bay we are blessed with a never-ending roster of restaurants from the beaches to Ybor City to South Tampa. When most people think of a restaurant in Tampa, they think of Bern’s, but most people who live here know that one of the best special occasion restaurants is Armani’s, located atop the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay.

It is perhaps one of the top three restaurants one thinks of when they think of anniversaries or other special events. The restaurant, known for its Northern Italian cuisine and floor to ceiling windows with amazing views, has been awarded 4 Diamonds award for many years.

So I was pleased to find that they are extending their hours to include a happy hour with reduced cocktail prices and a more extensive appetizer menu.

The new happy hour menu at Armani’s.

Last week several of the Tampa Bay Bloggers and I were treated to an array of their offerings, and it was certainly a treat.

The very polite and professional waiters offered us a choice of several cocktails, including the Terrace Mule (similar to a Moscow Mule, but named after their amazing terrace and view) a peach martini. They also have several wines available on the happy hour list as well.

A partial view of the wine cellar.
And a little more wine…

I have to admit Plate Girl can be a snob about these things, and I really appreciate nice dishes, heavy silverware and the glasses or crystal that restaurants use. So I was delighted to be served in the Terrace Mule in cut crystal glass. But it is Armani’s, so one wouldn’t really expect less.

Always nice to be served in a cut crystal glass.

Plate Girl also likes tablecloths at restaurants, and Armani’s is the epitome of a white-tablecloth restaurant. There is elegance everywhere, but at the same time, a welcoming atmosphere and friendly staff.

We were lucky to have general manager Michael help with the serving and explain the different entrees.

Armani’s is known for its antipasto, and they even have an antipasto bar from which guests can select from 45 items. Our antipastos included shrimp, baby clams, carpaccio, olives, roasted garlic and more. One can make a meal of this.

Our elaborate antipasto!
You can make your own at the antipasto bar!

After this we were served Bison Carpaccio ($9) with truffled yolk frivolezza, pickled red onion, smoked sea salt and crostini. The carpaccio was sliced ever so thinly and practically melted in your mouth. I would definitely order this on my own.

Melt in your mouth carpaccio

Next served were the crispy pork belly ($10), lamb ragu tortellini ($11) and grilled and chilled octopus. ($10)

Of course, Plate Girl loved that they were served on different specialty plates, one even looking as if it were made of slate.  Taking the time to pair a special serving dish with the food almost brings a tear to Plate Girl’s eye. That’s the type of attention Armani’s pays to details.

I love the variety of plates.

The crispy pork belly is served with course ground white polenta and marinated local tomatoes. It was indeed crispy on top, which made it extra delicious. I had to go in for a second helping.

 

The lamb ragu tortellini was made with herbed caprino fresco cheese and lamb essence. I liked the tortellini but for some reason I’m not a fan of lamb. To be fair, the other bloggers really enjoyed it, so it was probably just me.

Gorgeous tortellini.

The grilled and chilled octopus was made with garlic-milk braised fennel puree, carrot top pesto and prosciutto vinaigrette. I have had octopus at least a handful of times in my life (starting at age 12) but I have to say seeing the tentacles is always a bit off-putting. Bravely, I told myself I would at least try it. And… it was delicious! The grilling gave it sort of a smoky flavor I really enjoyed. I admit again I went in for seconds and thirds.

After the long process of each of us photographing the food, and slightly less long process of us eating the food, we all went out to the terrace to enjoy the sunset. The terrace is expansive and gives a view to the east, where one can see planes arriving and departing from Tampa International Airport, the south – where one can see the boardwalk among mangroves of the Grand Hyatt property, leading to Oyster Catchers restaurant and the pool area as well as a wonderful panoramic view of Tampa Bay. Looking to the west toward the beaches, once can see the sunset on the horizon.

The terrace is large enough so that visitors can stroll from east to west side to get two very different but both amazing views. There is plenty of seating, as well as prime outdoor couches with a fire pit.

Since attending, I have to admit I’ve been trying to tell most of my friends they need to go, my networking groups they need to have events there, and my husband that he needs to take me again. Generously, Armani’s included at 25% off card for my next visit, so I think that will be happening quite soon.

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