All photos (10)Cena
Cena
Cena

Cena

10.01 review
Italian
Popular with:
  • 9.8
    Foodies
  • 9.8
    Luxury Travellers
  • 9.8
    Nightlife Lovers
  • 9.8
    Hipsters
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1120 E.Kennedy Blvd, Tampa, FL
(813) 374-8840
http://cena-channelside.com/
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Local from Tampa
First to Review

Since when did my social week start on Wednesdays? The curse of having best friends with rotating schedules and night shifts. We must meet whenever and wherever we can to avoid the obvious signs of detrimental withdrawals the lack of gossip causes in us. After the tete a tete of back and forth sassy texts questioning who was to look most fabulous, who needed some drive through Botox, who was picking up who and where, who had obviously started drinking too early, we managed to agree on Cena. I had tried to go twice before, but arrived way early. Doors closed. Waiters and staff carefully placing the new cutlery and folded napkins. My Bambi eyes and insinuating cleavage did not work, such coyness did not amuse the manager enough to get me in. The Spirited Dinner, the other night, had piqued my interest yet again! Cena’s Evan Schmidt had prepared a carrot cake, goat cheese mousse, pineapple jelly, carrot –orange foam, and a brown sugar streusel with mint rum fluid gel. An edible miracle. Reservations were made. The restaurant sparingly, but tastefully decorated. Few patrons. We almost had the place to ourselves and, when we are as loud as we are, it is a blessing (for the other guests to have never come.)There was an affectionate couple in, what was probably, their second or third date judging by their ability to completely ignore their surroundings. Focused on each other’s eyes and intensely nodding at each other’s comments. Did I see her biting her lower lip a tad fifty shades? The service was patient. Really. Very. As we do when we do, we kept talking and never looking at the menu. We ordered sparkling water (for those of us already dehydrated by the cocktails we sip as we beautify ourselves) and kept talking some more. She politely passed us by hoping for a welcoming look and eventually managed to interrupt our interruptions of each other enough to get us to listen to the specials. We ordered the first bottle of wine. A lovely Barolo- La Coste de Monforte 2010. Light and fruity. No need to be decanted. As appetizers I had the octopus carpaccio with grilled mandarins. I also tried the Fried Pecorino Sardo Cheese, figs and Acacia honey – That cheese overpowered anything and everything on its side. Wine, please. But then again, I am not into strong smelling and pungent flavored cheese. Everyone else raved about it. The Mortadella Stuffed Olives, salame Tuscano, pimento aioli, parmesan plate was the perfect companion for the wine. Since our mouths were busy, our patient young lady took advantage and masterfully cornered us into choosing our primi piati: We ordered Asparagus, pecorino Romano, truffle oil risotto, a beef risotto with red wine (a special of the night), the Pork Saltimbocca, butternut squash agnolotti, brussel sprouts, with pancetta brown butter and the other special I can’t recall as well, but it was cocoa fetucini as the primary ingredient. My asparagus risotto brilliantly cooked. Al dente. Enough starch in the sauce without the gooiness that happens at times. The asparagus lightly cooked and cut into bite sizes still crunchy. Risottos are known for their eventual heaviness. This one remained light enough to allow me space for dessert enjoyment. However, we all agreed the winner was the beef risotto. The flavor of the meat and the cheese in perfect balance. Cooked and served right away. We ordered an Amarone della Valpolicella classic 2008. Fragrant and dry, dark and velvety. Almost too beautiful to be drunk. We stretched our glasses are much as possible and even through desserts. Of course, the wine got us into talking about the Chianti Road and the dream of returning with friends. Foreseeing the need for a designated driver who must be allergic to all kinds of alcohol. Desserts came. One was a special…blueberry panacota something something (the wine already messing with my precocious senility). We had to try the strawberry house dessert as well. They turned out to be quite similar. They looked similar as well which was rather disappointing. But not so Cena. Cena does not disappoint. Not in service, not in plating, and certainly not in taste. Then again, I love those places where you are not rushed. I love those places where you unknowingly get tipsy and walk out hand in hand with a friend you just adore… not able to refrain from laughing.

Recommended for:FoodiesLuxury TravellersNightlife LoversHipsters
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