Allow me to begin by saying that there is nothing worse than an Italian restaurant when you are used to an authentic Italian meal. Hear me out. I was brought up in a large (and loud) Italian family from Northern Italy. I distinctively remember my Nonna (my mother’s mom, Vanda) making the pasta by hand and creating a boiling concoction in a larger-than-life pot. The air would be filled with an aroma of rosemary, garlic, thyme, basil, and tomatoes; and at the end of the ordeal, the kitchen would be a complete wreck with flour explosions on the counters and red sauce splattered on the walls. The mess was worth it because each meal she cooked was positively scrumptious and made with love! I had never tasted a meal at an Italian restaurant that even came close to how delicious my Nonna’s cooking was – until I was reluctantly dragged into Moscato’s Bella Cucina (www.moscatosstpete.com), located at 475 Central Avenue North in Downtown St. Pete. (I would like to say “Grazie!” to Michael Novilla for not taking no for an answer!)
Moscato’s, a whopping 6,000 square foot spot, is known for its delicious Italian cuisine, which is seasoned with family tradition and owned by the dynamic duo: Bill and Yolanda Iorio-Helwig from NYC. He is the chef, she manages the front of house, and together they have created one of the purest Italian experiences any restaurant has to offer.
First of all, everything is homemade. Everything! Chef Iorio-Helwig bakes the bread first thing in the morning, he makes each sauce in-house, and even the pasta is handmade. You can’t ask for something more traditional than that. Are you gluten-free? No problem, they even have the option of gluten-free pasta.
Yolanda has done a marvelous job of creating a comfortable family style feel in the restaurant. It is truly a sense of being at home when you dine at Moscato’s, thanks to the friendly service and inviting atmosphere. Something else you will fall in love with is that there is no rush in finishing your meal quickly. This allows you to enjoy your evening with your party or date in true European style.
With lunch and dinner hours, Moscato’s Bella Cucina is a celebrated restaurant to enjoy a full meal of fresh Italian staples, homemade dessert, or even just a glass (or bottle) of vino. Salute!
Do you want to know a secret? Moscato’s also has a speakeasy jazz lounge underground. Enjoy pianists on the baby grand piano, jazz singers, and other entertainment as though you have entered a time machine and it is now the 1920s. Put on your beaded Flapper dress and polish your Oxfords, Moscato’s is ready to party with you – Gatsby style! Moscato’s Underground hosts shows Thursday thru Saturday.
This place excites us at Downtownstpete.com because you can experience two vibes in the same establishment; a home cooked authentic Italian meal upstairs that you can enjoy with your entire family, and a sexy underground parlour where you can dance the night away or sip your cocktail and have an intimate conversation.
475 Central Avenue, Saint Petersburg, FL 33701, USA
Tuesday – Friday: 11am – 3pm
Tuesday – Wednesday: 5pm – 9pm
Thursday: 5pm – 10pm
Friday and Saturday: 5pm – 12am
Moscato’s Underground Hours:
Friday – Saturday: 9pm – 1am
When you visit Moscato’s Bella Cucina, remind your party to join us on Downtownstpete.com so you all can keep up to date with the things to do, places to go, and meet the key personalities of Downtown St. Pete. Join our downtown St. Petersburg conversation and feel free to comment and once you’ve created your profile you’ll be able to post your favorite photos. Tutto Bene!