Tampa Area Restaurants

Cafe Ponte in Clearwater

As another week starts, I am still reminiscing about the weekend. There is one dinner in particular I’m thinking about, and I enjoyed it on Friday night.

Cafe Ponte is a restaurant in Clearwater with American fusion cuisine in what they describe as a “New York style cafe” setting. It is a nice location for a fancy date night out. Justin and I have dined at Cafe Ponte three times now, and each visit has featured some delicious offerings. However, I think Friday night’s meal was my favorite so far.

After sitting in our booth at the back of the restaurant (privacy – I like it!), we ordered a bottle of wine to share and an appetizer. However, we didn’t have to wait for the appetizer to arrive to start enjoying our dinner. As we waited, we were presented with small espresso cups filled with a sample portion of their mushroom soup.

Cute, right? And as we sipped on the soup, someone came by our table with another treat: bread! Cafe Ponte offers four different types of bread to select from the basket, and it is always a difficult decision. You can pick between kalamata olive bread, focaccia, asiago cheese bread, and parmesan flatbread. I resisted the urge to ask for one of each. Justin asked for the focaccia bread, which featured crispy onions on top:

I chose the asiago cheese. Cafe Ponte serves their bread with a small dish of soft butter with sea salt. Yum.

Shortly after we finished our bread and soup, our appetizer arrived. We have ordered the fig and prosciutto flatbread every single time we’ve visited Cafe Ponte: it is one of our favorites. The flavors are great together, and we don’t usually see a similar flatbread offered at other restaurants in town. Check it out:

It was almost too pretty to eat when it arrived on the table. Don’t worry though, we managed to consume the entire flatbread. The fig and prosciutto flatbread is prepared on a crispy yet chewy crust with caramelized onions, gorgonzola, mascarpone cheese, port-balsamic glaze, and frisee. It is sweet, it is salty, there is crunch, and there is tenderness – it’s a great combination!

Again: I drool.

For a main course, I decided to keep it simple. Each time we’ve dined at Cafe Ponte, I’ve marveled over how amazingly smooth, creamy, and flavorful the mushroom soup is.  However, the small espresso cup was the largest portion I’d experienced. On Friday, I decided I wanted to enjoy a full bowl of the mushroom soup, along with the chopped Tuscan salad.

To start: the mushroom soup is served with black trumpet dust and a light truffle cream. It is so incredibly smooth and luscious…it definitely deserves a spot as an entree if you’re in the mood for soup. And I was.

On the side, I enjoyed the chopped Tuscan salad. This salad would be great to split between two people as an appetizer/starter, or paired with a bowl of soup as an entree like I did! And it is beautiful…

It contains arugula, mozzarella, salami, peppers, green beans, garbanzo beans, and olives. It is tossed in a light sherry shallot vinaigrette and presented beautifully in a circular shape on the plate. At first glance, it seems rather small in size, but as soon as you plunge your fork into the salad, the circular shape tumbles open and the salad fills the plate. Yum yum yum.

And for Justin? He went with the diver scallops for his entree. Again – a thing of beauty!

The scallops were wrapped in applewood smoked bacon, and served with green apple-celery root puree, brunoise of carrot, calvados sauce, and a cider drizzle. Justin reported that the scallops were cooked perfectly, and the garnishes were a lovely accompaniment.

At this point, it was time to consider dessert. As much as I wanted to try a warm chocolate souffle or a gelato sampler, there was no room left in my stomach. Thankfully, Cafe Ponte doesn’t leave you hanging with a craving for after-dinner sweetness: they present you with a chocolate to enjoy. On Friday, it was a chocolate truffle rolled in peanuts, and it was the perfect bite to finish off our meal.

If you are looking for a fine dining experience in the Clearwater area, I’d definitely suggest Cafe Ponte for your consideration. The prices are a little higher than your average restaurant in the area (appetizers range from around $8-$14 and main courses $20-$39, depending on what you order), but for a special occasion it is a fun splurge!

Where do you like to go for a date night out?

Cafe Ponte on Urbanspoon


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