If you conceptualize Tampa as a neighborhood block, that would make Davis Islands a cozy little house on the end of the street. And, if Davis Islands were a house, that would make Oggi Italian Restaurant the family dining room.
“This island is like one big house,” Joseph Saker, co-owner of Oggi, said. “This is the kitchen. Coming here is like going downstairs to get a bowl of pasta. It’s where you get a group of people together to talk and catch up.”
Hearty dishes prepared from scratch
When Joseph and his wife, Debra Ogston, traded in their corporate lives to take over Oggi Italian, they did so with a mission; create a comforting “mom and pop” shop in which as much of the menu as possible is made in-house. The term Oggi translates to “today,” so a visit to the spot means indulging in hearty dishes that are prepared from scratch daily. From sauces to lasagna sheet noodles, and mozzarella stretched by hand each morning, the couple and their staff pride themselves on the freshness of their food.
Taking the “today” concept even further, the restaurant also features a blackboard of daily specials made from local, in-season products. If you haven’t been yet, imagine creamy seafood pasta or farm-to-table butternut squash risotto. Whatever’s “in-the-now” is on the plate—and it’s never your grandma’s basic spaghetti (even if the homey décor implies it could be).
For a more realistic example of what you’ll find on Oggi’s plates, grab your family and stick around for the menu highlights.
Just don’t invite grandma. You don’t want her to know you’re cheating on her lasagna.
Speaking of lasagna, Oggi Italian has two. Though their traditional lasagna boasts sausage Bolognese and bechamel, their white seafood rendition—in our opinion—reigns supreme.
A recurring special, this dish features fresh shrimp, scallop and crab between sheets of homemade pasta. The game changer on the plate, however, is the rich, cheesy sauce that fills each square and oozes from the sides at the gentlest touch of a fork.
One of our favorites from the appetizer menu, Oggi’s burrata mozzarella is hand-pulled in house each morning by Chef de Cuisine Antonio Corso. From there, it’s rolled into a ball and stuffed with ricotta, fine herbs, and more soft mozzarella.
To best consume this dish, we recommend cutting the burrata in half, letting the inner cheese drip out, and asking for some of the restaurant’s garlic Italian bread for dipping
Ok, admittedly: we didn’t order this dish. But as soon as we saw this picture, we wished we did because that caper-covered cutlet looks crispppyyyy.
Oggi Meatballs and Pasta
When we said Oggi isn’t serving your basic spaghetti, we weren’t kidding. With homemade marinara sauce, a delicate dollop of ricotta, and meatballs that operations manager Charlie Schumacher says are “the best thing on the menu,” Joseph and Debra’s team puts an upscale twist on a beloved comfort classic.
If you have a kid that likes to (adamantly) proclaim “FRUIT IS NOT DESSERT!”, it’s time to introduce them to Oggi’s Roasted Pineapple.
Geometrically sliced, lightly dusted in sugar, and roasted until it has a caramelized “crust,” this pineapple is so good the kiddos will totally forget it’s a fruit—especially when they dip it Dunkaroo-style into a side of house-made cannoli cream.
No more boxed pasta
Diners ready to trade their boxed pastas and jars of sauce for elevated comfort fare can visit Oggi Italian Wednesdays through Sundays starting at 5 p.m. for dinner.
Oh, and if you really want your visit to feel homey, ask Joseph to turn on his living room train.
He’ll know exactly what you’re talking about.
Oggi Italian Restaurant is located at 236 E Davis Blvd in Tampa, but can also be found on Instagram or Facebook. To make a reservation (recommended), prospective guests can call the restaurant at (813) 252-7778 or click here.