Quick Bites: Italian To-Go At Bellacini’s

He’s gone—the little rotund guy with the big infectious smile, snapping his fingers, always on the corner of NE 25th Avenue and 17th Street. You know, Snappy Tomato.

“That was a corporate store and it closed, but the Lady Lake, Lynn, Hwy 40 West, and Shores stores are doing well,” says Snappy Tomato Pizza franchise owner Joe Robertson.

Where the corporate restaurant closed, however, a new restaurant has opened. On May 8, Tim Suppes opened Bellacini’s Italian To Go Shop, an idea he dreamed about for years while working at other restaurants. In the hospitality business for over 26 years from Chicago to San Francisco, as well as the first general manager of Ocala’s Longhorn Steakhouse and an assistant manager at HOPS, Suppes is finally working for himself, with his wife, Pearl, and other family members by his side.

The name is catchy, and Suppes is on to something with the Italian to-go concept. Your food, even if you eat in, is served in take-out containers. If you don’t finish, grab a lid and take your meal home. Plates are furnished upon request.

The newly remodeled eatery is very Italian, complete with pictures of robust Italian men sporting curly mustaches. The menu is available at bellacinis.com and features hot and cold sandwiches, pastas, salads, and traditional entrées. My favorite at the salad station (not buffet) is the giardiniera pepper mix, a delicious hot-and-spicy blend of peppers to add zip to any dish you order. I told Suppes he should bottle and sell it.

Desserts include tiramisu and canolis, one of my all-time favorites. The shells are dipped completely in chocolate and filled to order to guarantee crispiness. For more information and hours, visit the website.

Nibbles: Beef O’ Brady’s is under new ownership in Triple Crown Plaza on SR 200, west of I-75. Corey Russell, who was a manager at HOPS for nine years, reopened the restaurant with his wife, Christina. Fire and Ice opened in Steeple Chase Plaza across from Big Lots on SR 200. It’s a bakery, sandwich, and ice cream shop that also serves wings, and Pascal Denis from France does the baking. Formerly with the famed Poilâne Boulangerie in his native country, Pascal has been baking since he was 15.

“He makes the most awesome croissants and real New York-style bagels,” says his wife, Janice. That is, bagels that are boiled before they are baked. For a faxed menu and hours, call 620-8200.

The Taj Indian Restaurant opened next to Country Inn and Suites on SR200 where a pizzeria used to be. You can enjoy a lunch buffet for $8.95 Monday–Thursday or $9.95 on Friday–Sunday. Buffet items include Tandori, Chicken Chetidad, Malai, Chanapindi, and more. An a la carte menu is also available. Call 291-9236 for hours and a menu.

The Oasis Restaurant in the Circle Square Plaza on SR200 is known for its delicious comfort food with a twist, and Owner Idania Salina has been known to dance around the restaurant between tables and customers. A single, hard-working woman, Idania says with a huge smile, “Sure, I’d like to have a man in my life, but he has to like the restaurant business!” Be sure to try the dessert Idania’s Cake, with its layers of pineapple batter, pineapple, and pudding, and topped with whipped cream. All seniors get a 10-percent discount.

Next Issue: Cocoloco Latin Café, Horse & Hounds, Mojo Grill, and Ariel’s Ice Cream.

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