Tampa Bay Brunch Tour Kicks Off At Ciccio’s

March 4, 2013 No Comments by Champagne Girl

Brunch has always been one of my favorite meals and since I became a mother, my days of brunches are few and far between. When friend and fellow blogger Megan (I Run For Wine), invited me to be part of a monthly get together over brunch, I was ecstatic.  Megan, along with these fabulous ladies: Katie (Ruffles & Truffles), Leslie (Dash of Les) and Rachel (Runners Tales) formed this group as a way to see who has the best brunch in the bay area. I adore every one of these girls and am very excited to be a part of this special group. Katie is the first one I met back in 2011 at a food conference in Atlanta. Megan and Leslie were both bloggers that I followed and I had the pleasure of meeting them last year at food events. Rachel and I met at a dinner at Season’s 52 and as soon as I discovered her blog, I knew we would get along famously.

Our first stop of the brunch tour was at South Tampa hot spot, Ciccio’s. This was my first time having brunch there and I was anxious to sample their house specialties. Brunch is not brunch without a cocktail and we started off with their Ciccio Bloody Mary. I had just dropped my kids off with their dad and this  Bloody Mary was looking really good. Made from scratch with a nice amount of spice, it was a great way to start to my day. The bacon was a delicious bonus.

 

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Ciccio Bloody Mary

 

Our first dish was their Tuscan Bowl. Ricotta blended scrambled eggs with fresh basil, vine ripe tomatoes and melted Parmesan, it was fantastic. Now, I must be honest. I spent most of January and February on a high protein, low-carb eating program and dropped about 17 lbs. My mindset has changed a little with food and I am trying to incorporate healthier foods into my eating regime. This was the perfect dish for me in that it was incredibly tasty and high in protein. I would order this again in a heartbeat. Filled with flavor and packed with protein, this is a must-have at Ciccio’s.

 

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Tuscan Bowl

 

As much as I wanted to have another cocktail, I had to stick to just the Bloody Mary. As tempting as their Maxmosa is, I had to really restrain myself. I have had it before and let’s just say my nickname isn’t Champagne Girl for nothing! The presentation of their Maxmosa is as fantastic as it tastes. Cheers to Ciccio’s for having such big and bold brunch cocktails!

 

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Maxmosa

 

Next up was their Turkey Club Bowl and this was another highlight of my meal. Made with scrambled eggs, roasted house-made turkey, sausage and avocado, this one knocks it out of the park in the flavor department. There is something so comforting about turkey and this one made me feel happy and relaxed. This would be perfect to have after a morning workout.

 

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Turkey Club Bowl

 

We were all having such a great time enjoying each other’s company and sipping on cocktails. We also got to try some of their famous Slam-gria.  I think Ciccio’s has really set the bar when it comes to Sangria. With three choices (red, white and champagne) all served in a giant glass, you can’t go wrong with one of these spectacular concoctions. Made to order with fresh fruit, you have not experienced Tampa until you have had one!

 

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 Slam-grias (white, red, champagne)

 

As many of you know, I am a California Girl. I grew up eating tomatoes and avocados on a daily basis, so it was no surprise that I would enjoy our next selection, California Dreaming. If anyone understands the concept of California Dreaming, it is yours truly. When I think of my home state, I think of fresh produce, gorgeous wild flowers, cool breeze, mountains and avocados! I am a true avocado fanatic and have been since I was a young girl. Ciccio’s did me proud with this dish that combines scrambled eggs, organic spinach, vine ripe tomatoes and fresh sliced avocado. Simply amazing, this also had farro at the bottom of the bowl.  All of their bowls can be served with your choice of farro or homefries. I love homefries but the farro really won me over. I think they should name this the “Tracy Bowl.” ;)

 

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California Dreaming

 

 “Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.” – James Beard

 

I agree with James Beard and after almost two months without bread, I was ready! The next dish we tried was my absolute favorite.  The Natural Chicken & Egg Sandwich Club is a heavenly creation of chicken, egg, avocado, bacon and garlic aioli on grilled sourdough bread. I seriously want to hug whoever created this masterpiece. The flavor combination of this sandwich is just sensational. I could have easily devoured the whole thing so thank goodness we were sharing. This will be my go-to breakfast once I start running again.

 

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Natural Chicken & Egg Sandwich Club

 

I was getting full and could not believe we had more items to try. Next up was the Lanza Burrito. When it comes to California cuisine, Ciccio’s is an expert. I grew up with burritos as a staple and some of the best burritos I have ever had were in San Francisco. I consider myself a burrito connoisseur and was really impressed with the Lanza Burrito. A fantastic blend of scrambled eggs, homefries, bacon, black beans, cheddar and jack cheese sauce and then topped with avocado salsa, this breakfast burrito rocks.  I must say, Ciccio’s won me over with this and I am happy that I found a place to cure my burrito craving in Tampa.

 

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Lanza Burrito

 

Another favorite of the day was the Big Chorizo Egg Wrap.  Eggs, chorizo, avocado and jack cheese all stuffed into your choice of a whole wheat or flour tortilla and paired with a Marsala or ketchup dipping sauce.  I really liked this and tried it with hot sauce. I love all things spicy and a nice hot sauce pairs well with the eggs and chorizo. Do not even get me started on the homefries. Like that famous brand of potato chips, nobody can eat just one.

 

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Big Chorizo Egg Wrap

 

Was I full at this point? Heck yeah. Was I going to surrender my fork? No way! We had two types of pancakes to taste and I have never met a pancake that I didn’t like. The first was their Oatmeal Pancakes which is a generous portion of three oatmeal pancakes with butter and maple syrup. Fantastic! My kids love pancakes and I really want to make these for them at home.

 

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Oatmeal Pancakes 

 

Our final dish made me squeal with delight……Oatmeal Chocolate Chip and Strawberry Pancakes. These were like three fluffy pieces of heaven and the fresh strawberries made them really stand out. I became enamored with the flavor that was sweet yet not too overbearing. Growing up, I used to look forward to going to church on Sundays and then breakfast immediately after. My brother and I were obsessed with pancakes and would order different types and share. His favorite were always chocolate chip, so these really reminded me of my childhood. I know my son would devour these so it looks like a brunch trip to Ciccio’s for the kiddos and I will be in the very near future.

 

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Oatmeal Chocolate Chip and Strawberry Pancakes

 

I had such a great time and enjoyed spending time with these über talented ladies. Ciccio’s did a fantastic job and I am honored to be a part of this fantastic brunch group. This was the perfect way to start our tour.  Thank you Ciccio’s for the amazing food and awesome service!

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