Derek and I had two special visitors this weekend, my parents drove to Tampa on Saturday to celebrate my 28th birthday weekend with us. They arrived just in time for lunch and I knew just the place I wanted to take them.
When I first moved to Tampa two years ago, my friend Callie told me there was an Italian market in St. Petersburg that I had to check out sometime. It was a place that was always in the back of my mind, but nothing that I made a priority to go see. When my dad told me he wanted to try somewhere fun and different for lunch, the Italian market was the first thing I thought of. After a quick google search we discovered the Italian market was called Mazzaro’s and based off of their 12,000+ likes on Facebook and multiple 5 star ratings on Yelp, we knew this was going to be good.
As soon as we pulled up, we knew this place was going to be good. From the jam packed parking lot, to the crazy collection of Italian themed decor on the outside, Mazzaro’s definitely had character.
Inside Mazzaro’s is huge. It reminded me a lot of Eataly in New York, only a little older (say 20-30 years older), heck of a lot cheap, and with a lot more character. The market is divided into a variety of sections (wine, cheese, meat, seafood, coffee, etc.) and each one was packed to the gills. Apparently Mazzaro’s is THE place to be on Saturday afternoon.
I think the cheese room was my favorite.
We picked up three different cheeses, a couple of smoked sweet sausages, and a loaf of french bread for dinner last night. It was one epic meal.
I need to come back and try the coffee bar or, at the very least, buy some coffee beans. The coffee beans are all roasted fresh on site and is one of things the market is famous for.
The dessert case! Don’t worry we walked out with some goodies.
There’s also a dry grocery section full of just about every hard to find Italian dry ingredient you can think of. The variety of jarred capers alone took up its own shelf.
Of course, we were there for the deli.
And we were not alone.
That’s a lot of people waiting on sandwiches!
Luckily Mazzaro’s had a good system with moving numbers along. They basically gave you a rough three second window once they call your number to let them know your order. We saw so many people get passed by for not paying attention and missing their window. Number 35 was having their order taken when number 30 finally realized his number had been called and was speaking up. They do not mess around here.
I think we waited about 15 minutes to give our order, then another 15 or so for our sandwiches. Let’s call it an even 30 minutes for four sandwiches at 1:30 on a Saturday afternoon. I can’t even imagine what they’re weekday lunch crowd is like. Insanity.
Dad was ready to eat!
We took the sandwiches outside and dined in the gorgeous Florida sunshine.
Can you tell Derek was excited about his sandwich? He couldn’t wait to dig in.
I ordered the muffalata, which was humongous! I couldn’t even finish one half and had to save the other half for lunch the next day. Can you believe this gigantic two-meal sandwich was ONLY $5?! I’ll take this bad boy over a $5 footlong from Subway any day of the week.
My dad wanted to show off his meatball sub. The meatball sub is one of the specialities that Mazzaro is famous for. I had a bite and can see why, the meatballs were packed full of flavor with just the right amount of sauce and cheese to complement the sandwich.
We can’t forget about those pastries I mentioned earlier.
My mom and dad had the eclairs, while Derek and I are more cannoli fans. There really are no words needed here. It’s really hard to go wrong with a cannoli. 😉
Mazzaro’s Italian Market was an incredible experience. I can’t wait to go back and explore it a little more (maybe earlier in the day before the lunch rush hits?). They have a wide selection of reasonably priced meats, cheeses, and seafood that were all calling my name. Well, that and the rest of the dessert case and sandwich options!
We left stuffed and happy and decided walk off some of that incredible food by exploring downtown St. Petersburg.
It really could not have been a more picture perfect day. The high was in the mid seventies and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Days like that in the middle of February are exactly why I live in Florida.
We ended the day at Derek’s parents house with our bounty of meats and cheeses.
(yep. epic meal.)
And a variety of Gigi’s cupcakes for dessert.
My mother-in-law rocks! She bought NINE different cupcakes for us to try! Derek and I are still working our way through them, but so far our favorites are the snicker doodle (mmm… cinnamon) and the turtle (fresh pecans in the cupcake = amazing).
How was your weekend? Did you explore anywhere new?