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Side dish

By CHRIS SHERMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 25, 2001


VIVA ITALIA

Gratzzi and Mezzanotte arrived in grand style at St. Petersburg's BayWalk and Centro Ybor, respectively, last week. Gratzzi gives St. Petersburg elegant, deep-red digs for Italian, plus rare tastes such as rustic rabbit sofritto and clever eggplant-crab napoleons. Entrees start at $11 for a half chicken with artichokes and asparagus. (727) 822-7769.

* * *

Ybor's Mezzanotte gets its drama in decor and crowd. Dress is New York black, preferably leather (but Warren Sapp wore white). The menu's familiar, jazzed up with arugula and endive; mushroom salad and (very) fresh mozzarella are fun bites. Angel hair with pomodoro, $9.95; penne with shrimp and mushrooms, $11.50. Fresh tastes in Italian? Bravo! (813) 242-4885.

STARRY-EYED

Star chefs lining up for the $400-ticket Taste of the NFL on Saturday include Susan Spicer (New Orleans), Nancy Longo (Baltimore), Allen Susser (Miami), Don Pintabona (New York). Look for them in their off-hours at better tables around town.

I'LL HAVE ANOTHER ...

Bite of takeout. During Super Bowl last year, more than a quarter of us ate takeout. The flip side is that business is slow then in sit-down restaurants, so those that are open during the game have a good choice of tables.

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