Travel to Gulf Gate for A True Taste of Italy at Tortellino Bistrot

Good Bite

BY ARIEL CHATES SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING TUESDAY JUL 28, 2020

There are breakfast people, there are sandwich people, there are dessert people and then there are pasta people. I am a dedicated and lifelong pasta person. To put it mildly, I’m crazy about pasta. Now that you know this about me, I feel comfortable sharing with you a secret I learned this past weekend. The best pasta I’ve ever had outside of Italy, and not to veer into the dramatics but some of the best I’ve ever had, is being dished out in a ‘blink and you miss it’ establishment in Gulf Gate. Looking at the reviews this place has racked up with only a few short weeks under their belt, it is clear my feelings are shared by most guests.

The Tortellino Bistrot opened on March 5th in the midst of the first days of the growing global pandemic and only a week or so before the initial shutdown. Despite this setback, owner and chef Leonardo Pierucci has not lost hope of achieving his American dream. After five years of running a successful Italian restaurant named Trattoria Bolognese in Brazil, Leonardo and his wife Merci left for the states and settled in Sarasota.

Leonardo grew up working in a family food store with his mother and grandmother in a small city right between Bologna and Florence. His restaurant’s name is an ode to Bologna’s signature pasta and style of cooking, where the tortellini was born. His grandma taught him all the classic techniques for rolling the pasta dough, but perhaps most importantly, “the passion to do it in the right way.” I can confirm from the first bite, he is most certainly doing it “the right way.” 

To start we tried the Ravioli Lobster which is stuffed with chunks of sweet lobster and mascarpone cheese in a creamed light rose sauce finished uniquely with feta crumbles. The fresh sheets of pasta folded delicately to make each ravioli provided the perfect pillow-y bite for the rich lobster.

Next we had the Tortellini Alfredo and Tortelloni Bolognese. The pasta was sensational and the service was delightfully educational. A pasta fact for you: Tortellini is the smaller, more common pasta shape filled traditionally with prosciutto di Parma and Parmigiano Reggiano, while the tortelloni is its bigger cousin stuffed primarily stuffed with ricotta. Leonardo rolls and stuffs each of these by hand the old-fashioned way as no pasta cutter can mimic the expertise of his deft hands.

The standout for me was by far the Tagliatelle with Red Wild Shrimp. Two shrimp served atop a heaping pile of fresh tagliatelle tossed in a buttery seafood sauce. Insanely simple, yet incredibly good, with that al dente bite only homemade pasta can achieve. The menu definitely focuses on the fresh pasta handmade daily, but Leonardo is also cooking up dishes like Lasagna with Porcini Mushrooms, Ossobuco with Saffron Risotto and Risotto Frutti di Mare.

Open for dine-in, takeaway or delivery, Tortellino Bistrot is as authentic as it gets without stamping your passport in Italy. The perfect spot for a date night, if you can’t make it to Bologna this summer, Leonardo and Merci are serving up Italian hit after hit for you Tuesday through Saturday from 5:00pm to 9:00pm.

Tortellino Bistrot, 6584 Superior Ave, 941-388-7174.

Click here for more information and reservations.

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