Joe DiBartolo, Owner of Oggi Italian
After retiring from the pizza business, Joe DiBartolo and his team opened Oggi Italian on Davis Islands, focusing on classic Italian dishes — like pollo al forno with lemons, which dates back to the Ancient Romans — with a healthy twist. The staff makes many of the ingredients in house, including mozzarella and marinara.
What is your favorite dish outside your restaurant for dinner?
The picanha and other grilled meats at Terra Gaucha. They roast it over the open fire, so it has that wood-fired, almost barbecue, taste. The servers slice it right in front of you, and for me, the fresher the food, the better. It doesn’t have much seasoning or sauce, so you can really taste the meat. I’ve eaten pasta for so long that I’ve kind of become a carnivore [laughs]. Terra Gaucha opened recently, but I’ve already been multiple times.
How did the idea for your own restaurant come about?
My team had done a lot of pizzerias, so we wanted to get out of that business. We realized people weren’t really look-ing for gourmet pizzas anymore, and we wanted to do something more natural and farm-to-table but still in the Italian realm. Now Oggi is a neighborhood Italian restaurant with no GMOs, hormones or antibiotics, so we’re in that clean food world. That’s what people are looking for now, and we’re really the only Italian restaurant occupying that space locally.
What are some of Oggi’s most popular dishes?
One is the roasted lemon chicken. It’s a very old dish. It dates back to Romans roasting chickens and squeezing lemon on it. The baked pasta dishes are always popular, especially the Sorrentina rigatoni, with fresh basil and homemade marinara and mozzarella. We make all of our mozzarella in-house every day.
236 E. Davis Blvd. | (813) 252-7778
Terra Gaucha Brazilian Steakhouse
1108 S. Dale Mabry Highway. | (813) 999-4332
Read about all the other restaurants admired by our South Tampa chefs in the Best Thing I Ever Ate (Not In My Restaurant) feature here.