When a new restaurant opens its doors in The Villages, it will immediately draw the curious.
So when Roberto’s Ristorante and Pizzeria opened July 25 at Pinellas Plaza, it was no surprise to see long lines out front.
Owner Roberto Manco’s reputation had preceded him before he opened his own eatery. He had worked for years as executive chef at his brother Giovanni’s namesake restaurant at Southern Trace Plaza, also in The Villages. Roberto, who came to America from Naples, Italy, had been at his brother’s restaurant for more than a decade. He understood what Villagers enjoy.
Now three months after officially striking out on his own, it appears Roberto’s gamble has paid off.
We paid a recent visit to the restaurant, which offers a menu rich with Italian cuisine.
The restaurant offers indoor and outdoor seating, ranging from small tables to large, comfortable booths. We were there for lunch, which offers an inviting “come as you are” feel.
Eager to sample the full range of the menu, I had a heavier dish, Shrimp Scampi. The entree was preceded by garlic rolls and then soup, which came at $2 more than the salad that is offered with the entree.
The shrimp in my entree had been sautéed in white wine with lemon garlic sauce and then served over linguine. The dish had a sweet, very lemony taste which I found quite appealing. The side medley of fresh vegetables included tender cauliflower, broccoli and carrots. The price of the meal, $16.50 with the $2 add-on for the substitution of soup over salad, seemed quite reasonable. I was more than satisfied and left with a box.
My lunch companion stuck with a more traditional noon-time meal, the Chicken Parmesan Panini sandwich. Chicken Parmesan is his go-to dish when we eat out at an Italian restaurant, and he said the bread, chicken and sauce exceeded his expectations. He elected to order a side of steak fries, which at $2.50, were hot and delicious, served in their own basket. He also left Roberto’s with a box.
We wish Roberto all the best. We’ll be back and suspect our next visit will be in the evening for pizza.
The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day.