Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Food Is Art at Picasso's; the Pizza Is Tasty but So Many Other Things Will Keep You Sampling

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Food Is Art at Picasso's; the Pizza Is Tasty but So Many Other Things Will Keep You Sampling

Article excerpt

Byline: Caron Streibich

Know when you find a restaurant you enjoy so much and just want to sing its praises to everyone you know? Picasso's is one of those rare places. It may be in Mandarin, obscured from busy San Jose Boulevard, but it's worth the trek.

Bring friends, come hungry and order an appetizer or three. The savory panko-crusted prosciutto, spinach and risotto-stuffed crispy risotto bites ($7.25) are so good you won't want to share. First-timers will enjoy the St. Louis toasted ravioli ($7), which you'd be hard-pressed to find on other menus in town. These piping-hot two-bite breaded meat-filled pasta pockets are dusted with copious Parmesan cheese and served with warm marinara for dipping.

There are countless pastas, sandwiches (love the Kentucky Hot Brown!), and entrees - even the ramen bowl of the day is fantastic - but to me Picasso's is all about pizza and calzones. You can create your own from a strong lineup of toppings, but I'd pick one of the two dozen signature pizza selections. The Heart of the Mediterrean ($15.25 for a small) is my go-to: marinated artichokes, hearts of palm, creamy fresh goat cheese, sun-dried tomato slivers and delicate, crispy fried basil leaves but also I love the unique "Big Boy" Bacon Cheeseburger pizza ($13, small) - hamburger, bacon, tomatoes, Vidalia onions and pickles and mustard (do it!) upon request. It sounds crazy but it tastes phenomenal. Pesto Perfection ($13.25, small), with its homemade basil pine nut pesto, fresh tomatoes and ricotta cheese, is another solid combo.

I also love Picasso's because it's a place where you can eat a dozen times but get something different every visit, and always expect a fantastic meal and friendly service.

Picasso's has a casual ambiance that's great for date night or catching up with friends. Chatty eaters occupying two rows of booths and a smattering of tables with oversize Pablo Picasso art prints hanging on the walls nearby fill the space. Weekend nights are packed, usually with a wait (though there's no bar area, beer and wine are available to ease your waiting pain). …

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