Where to get great deals on food in Tampa restaurants

The wood-fired oven stays busy cranking out pizzas at Bella’s Italian café. You can catch a half-price pizza or calzone when Conan comes on.

Stumbling upon a deal at a favorite restaurant makes dining sweeter. While Groupon, Eversave and other marketing companies offer deals, there are places that have secrets that insiders feed on. The key to savings is eating early, on slow days, or with other night owls. Check out some super savory savings:

HILLSBOROUGH:

Bella’s Italian Café: Across the street from Bern’s Park in the SoHo neighborhood of Tampa, Bella’s has been hosting friends for a quarter century. Bella’s may be Tampa born, but its pizzas rival any from the five New York boroughs.  Half-price pizzas and calzones are a draw after 11 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and after midnight on Friday and Saturday. 1413 S Howard Ave., Tampa; (813) 254-3355; www.bellasitaliancafe.com

Brio Tuscan Grille: The two-floor restaurant in Bay Street at Tampa’s International Plaza, has been called the “Cheesecake Factory of Italian fare.’’ Find $3 deals on flatbreads, burgers, pepper shrimp, and more, in the bar after 9 p.m. and between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Also, Thursday is $5 martini night. 2223 N. West Shore Blvd., Tampa; (813) 877-3939; www.brioitalian.com

Byblos Café: Fall evenings send diners to its patio for a dash of sass:  baba ganoush, tabouleh, hummus and stuffed grape leaves. Management says they are revamping its timetable for special tastings, which occur about once a month. Appetizers are half priced during happy hour. For an update, go to info@bybloscafe.com. 2832 S. MacDill Ave, Tampa; (813) 805-7977; www.bybloscafe.com

Gengiz Khan: Get a taste of the Ottoman Empire at this eatery in The Shoppes of Interbay,  south of Gandy.  The attraction: $9.99 specials in a size bigger than lunch but smaller than dinner.  You can order seven different kinds of kebabs, chicken Adana or chicken chops  (and 90 percent of its menu) at this price. 6102 S. MacDill Ave., Tampa; (813) 805-6400; www.gengizkhan.com

Koto Japanese Steak House & Asian Food: Sidle up to a table for the seafood and sushi. Scott, our son could eat free Sunday on his birthday.  No one wants to celebrate his birthday alone but the other guest has to pay.  Tucked in Whaley’s Plaza, it’s worth a visit before 6:30 p.m. weekdays and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, for an early bird steak, shrimp or chicken specials (with soup, salad, fried rice and veggie.)  There are sushi late night specials, too. 533 S. Howard Ave., Tampa, FL;  (813) 964-6808;  www.kotosteakhouse.com

Malio’s Prime Steakhouse: Massive steaks, like a 40-ounce porterhouse,  are the mainstay here but happy hour snacks from a $5 menu has appeal. Burgers, shrimp and filet tips are served on the bar and patio. The Tampa Beer Can on the river hosts this elegant dining spot named for its prime beef and founder, Malio Iavarone, who is in his prime. Son Derek is also an owner. (To save on valet, there is free self-parking in the garage below). 400 N. Ashley Drive, Rivergate Tower, Tampa; (813) 223-7746; www.maliosprime.com

Timpano Italian Chophouse: Timipano does its best to impart the feeling of the restaurants that dot Broadway.  On Tuesdays, women can nibble on free tidbits after 7 p.m. while drinking $3 martinis or house wines. 1610 W Swann Ave, Tampa, (813) 254-5870; www.timpanochophouse.net

PINELLAS

Red Mesa: Every morsel explodes with Spanish, Mexican, California nouvelle and Pacific Rim flavors of today’s southwest. Best deals are the Sunset Menu, served from 4 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. Mondays through Fridays for $14. Your choice of 11 entrees includes chips and salsa, choice of a Margarita, sangria or draft beer, an entrée and a dessert for $14. Four choices include Salteado De Rez made with sirloin, chorizos and mushrooms; Snapper tacos with salsa roja and pico de gallo on soft corn tortillas; Enchiladas De Rez made from shredded beef topped with chile  verde sauce with cilantro; Snapper Ala Talla with the fish served with avocado salsa, congri and a honey chipotle vinaigrette;  and carne asada that is grilled with corn tortillas and frijoles charros. 4912 4th St. N., St. Petersburg, FL; (727) 527-8728. redmesarestaurant.com

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TAMPA BAY RESTAURANT NEWS

ABC Fine Wine & Spirits: Regulars on its mailing list sing praises for food tastings during its wine samplings that occur irregularly.  The variety depends on the   location: 2330 E Fletcher Ave., (813) 971-2122; 3015 W. Kennedy Blvd., (813) 876-5330; 14729 N. Dale Mabry Hwy., (813) 264-1881; 2001 N. Dale Mabry Hwy., (813) 876-7863; and 6943 W. Hillsborough Ave., (813) 884-3792.

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Seasons 52  seizes the savory: Fall is officially in full swing as the days are cooler, shorter and more pleasant. Find fit food with dishes not laden with butter, oil, cream and other fatty richness. Each packs 475 calories or fewer. Best part is the dishes don’t taste low calorie.  With an award-winning international wine list of more than 100 wines, the  casual, yet sophisticated, restaurant has a tasty autumn menu. Starters include Portobello Mushroom and Four Cheese Flatbread with truffled sour cream and seared rare Ahi Tuna with sesame crisps. Other options include toasted pecans, butternut squash and mint Sesame Duck Salad and bourbon-chili glazed Manchester Farms Grilled Quail. You’ll be beguiled  by pecan pie or classic red velvet cake indulgences served in shot glasses.  204 N West Shore Blvd.;  Tampa; (813) 286-1152. www.seasons52.com

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Got the blues?: I’ve been buying cereal with blueberries to boost my antioxidants for the wrong reasons. Turns out companies, such as Kellogg’s and Betty Crocker, cooking the facts with their idea of what fruit is. Listen to the investigation.

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No comments yet to Where to get great deals on food in Tampa restaurants

  • Sydney

    Even though we study the “deals” around town, here is a lot of great new information. Thanks for the heads’ up!

  • Scott

    For sushi, we love Matio Sushi on Dale Mabry between Cyprus and Kennedy!

  • Taylor Eason

    Couldn’t agree more. I remember when it was closed for a while after a fire, I believe, and crossed my fingers it would return. It did.

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