Italian Restaurants


Italian Restaurants

We have a nice following of friends who love to see our restaurant experiences, so I’m publishing a recap of Italian restaurants where Diane and I have been in the last 12 months, many of them multiple times. All of them have full-service bars and serve a variety of Italian dishes. All are worth trying. I don’t publish our disappointments.

More Upscale

** OLIVIA – Tampa Parking & valet, must have reservation. Hip place. Younger crowd. If you sit at the bar say hi to Marino, one of the best know bar tenders in Tampa.

** Casa Santo Stefano – Tampa   Same owner as Columbia, excellent parking, need a reservation, has a roof top bar and cigar area. Hip place.

** Il Mulino Restaurant at Disney’s Swan Resort – Orlando Excellent food, only place we ever eat at Disney.

** Casa Cosenza – Oldsmar  Very quaint, plenty of parking, husband/wife owner. Very Italian bar tender, “Sparky”. Piano music Friday & Saturdays

Casa Ludovico – Palm Harbor valet parking only, must have reservations, very popular.

* Villaggio – Lutz Large menu, very local following, choose Alex as your waiter and listen to Humberto sing all your Italian classics and opera. Tiny bar area. Need reservations on the weekends. Parking can get crowded.

** Alfano’s Restaurant – Clearwater      Plenty of parking, very large restaurant and bar area excellent food, attention to detail.

Timpano – Hyde Park Tampa Parking garages available, need reservations. Somewhat limited menu, large parmesan bowl pasta table side experience available. Hip place

More Casual

** Taso Italiano – New Port Richey Our favorite casual restaurant, neighborhood sort of place, plenty of parking, reservations suggested. Everything here is made fresh, excellent service by a staff that has been with them for years. They age their own steaks in-house and are usually available on the weekends.  On Little Road not far from SR54, tell Sabrina we said hi! Here is a recent YouTube video about Taso and Sabrina husband & wife owners, and the restaurant

** Esposito’s Italian Restaurant – Carrollwood area Tampa Large menu, Sinatra music, parking. It used to be our #1 place, then they lost our favorite bar tender, we still go there monthly. Food is always great, large menu, large bar area. You’ll need reservation unless you come really early.

* Via Italia – New Tampa parking, homemade pasta, excellent cheese and meat boards, claimed excellent pizza (we don’t order pizza at restaurants). This place can get crowded, usually a younger crown.

Da Sesto Italiano Ristorante – Pinellas Park Parking is available. Older location, good food.

* Bernini Restaurant – Ybor Tampa  Parking in local lots. Famous for ½ off entre’s and $4 Martini’s from 4-7 PM, excellent deal! A few outdoor tables on 9th street . Need reservations. Food is always good.

Forbici Modern Italian – Hyde Park Tampa

Trattoria Pasquale – Tampa

Bella’s Italian Café – Tampa

* The Bistro – Tarpon Springs Formerly called Tuscan Sun, limited parking. Love sitting out front watching the bike/walking trails through scenic Tarpon Springs. Somewhat limited entre menu, grilled octopus is excellent. This is a Mediterranean menu with some Italian items.

JoJo’s Italian Diner – Tarpon Springs Street parking

Joey’s New York Pizza & Italian Restaurant – Palm Harbor         Plenty of parking, neighborhood place.

* Denotes multiple visits

** Denotes highly recommended

BEWARE – Large Mutual Fund Taxes This Year!


Do You Own Mutual Funds – Just Beware

This is only for people who own mutual funds in a taxable account. This year some people will get clobbered with a huge tax bill and our mutual fund is losing money. They call it adding insult to injury. If you own ETF’s instead, you don’t have this problem.

So how does this happen? It’s almost a perfect story, one you won’t like. Many mutual funds had substantial gains earlier this year, then the market started to turn south and a massive number of people sold. How do we know this, well if the mutual fund price drops 25-30% like the rest of the market, then a massive number of people sold!

The way mutual funds are designed, if people sell the fund the fund must sell the individual stocks. Let’s say it’s a US growth fund and the fund holds Facebook (META) as a major holding. You sell the fund, they in turn sell Facebook.

This year is unique, there is a huge outflow from growth mutual funds, the remaining shareholders will have to divide up the 2022 capital gains. How do you know if your fund might have this issue? Just check their turn-over ratio.

Here is an example, SHRAX, ClearBridge Aggressive Growth fund. It has an estimated $500M outflow, has lost 22% YTD. This fund has a PCGE of 87%, “potential capital gains exposure” (Barron’s).

Just to understand the math, let’s say a fund has $1M in capital gains for 2022 and there are 1,000 investors, each investor would get a 1099 – Capital Gains for $1,000. Now if so many people sell that there are only 500 shareholders, each will now get a $2,000 capital gains. You get the idea, it’s a “snowballing” effect.

What should you do:

  1. Check any mutual fund in a taxable account, what will the annual distribution be? You can call the fund.
  2. If there are any pending capital gains SELL THE MUTUAL FUND IMMEDIATELY!
  3. A better rule, don’t hold mutual funds in any taxable account! Switch to a similar fund in an ETF format. They are much more tax friendly.
  4. You might be tempted to respond, you want that “distribution”, it’s extra money right? NO, WRONG. The day of the distribution, the value of the fund goes down in price by the exact amount of any distribution!

Why are ETF’s better in a taxable account? For one, they don’t have this capital gains issue. When you sell shares in an ETF, they don’t actually “sell” the underlying shares, they have transfer arrangements with what’s called “authorized participants”. These are just large institution market makers that can offload the gains, package them with losses in other shares and eliminate any taxes to you.

Years ago I started managing my mother’s taxable investment account and it was loaded high quality mutual funds. Every year she was getting a big tax bill that was unnecessary. Over a few years we transitioned to ETF’s and the tax bills went away.