Located in Florida's energetic Channel District, Cena delivers up old-world Italian flavors in a modern atmosphere. The vibe is intimate, it's not a large restaurant. But with the addition of a cocktail program, it's the perfect spot for dinner, drinks, and dessert.
Cena is led by Executive Chef Michael Buttavocali. His experience includes working as the Chef de Cuisine under Jeannie Pierola at Boca in Ybor City. Michael was raised in an atmosphere of authentic, family-centric Italian cooking. In fact, Cena translates into "dinner" or "supper" to Italian, showing the restaurant's roots before you even step in. Insider tip, the menu is dinner only. The food is inspired by traditional dishes meant for family meals, the experience is anything but ordinary. Cena brings a contemporary flair to everything they do, and it's all underscored by a focus on impeccable service.
With a low-key vibe and a small space, the food takes center stage at Cena. The serving sizes here might even make up for the small interior space. Make sure you come with a full appetite and plan to save room for dessert (if you can!) Some favorites include the pork-shank which is cooked to "fall-off-the-bone" perfection, prosciutto-wrapped flounder, and the eggplant. Chef Michael makes sure to take familiar dishes and prepare them in a way that you won't be able to taste anywhere else. As mentioned, dessert is a must-have if you manage to save the room for it. Two that stand out are the bococcini (a combination of caramel cream puffs, pistachio cream, and limoncello strawberries) and the zupa inglese (which includes spongecake bits, marinated peach chunks, roasted pinenuts and whipped vanilla yogurt).
Cover image from @cenatampa on Instagram.