Wine Dine and Play: November 2017

Costas Restaurant

Costas is a Greek Restaurant new the Sponge Docks in Tarpon Springs, Florida rated in the top 100 of best Greek Restaurants in the USA

June 2019 review  /  October 2017 review

Real Taste Of The Greek Islands
Tarpon Springs, Florida USA
Cuisine Style: Greek
Average Price: $$
Overall Rating: 3/5
Dined in October 2017
Revised: August 2019

By Sean Overpeck (CFE)
**A full article and index glossary of restaurants, wines, recipes and travel for 
Wine Dine and Play are in the pages section above, or by following these links:

Costa's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Clay Oven

Looks Can Be Deceiving 
St. Petersburg, Florida USA
Cuisine Style: Indian
Average Price: $
Overall Rating: 1/5
Dined in September 2017
By Sean Overpeck (CFE)
**A full article and index glossary of restaurants, wines, recipes and travel for 
Wine Dine and Play are in the pages section above, or by following these links:

Clay Oven Indian Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

My wife discovered the Clay Oven through a Groupon, and when we arrived the building was a little run down with stores attached to the building that looked a little run down. The neighborhood itself looked a little on the rough side as well. Then we walked in and noticed the inside of the restaurant was also run down. On their website none of the links to social media or email, or even the contact page did not work, and linked back to the main page, so good luck trying to contact them. My wife even mentioned that we may need to eat somewhere else instead. We decided to give it a try, looking over the beverage list and seeing a limited selection of beers, and even less of wine. 

The manager was an older gentleman and the server was a mid-aged Indian woman, who was not very attentive and seemed to not really understand what we were saying or what we wanted to order. The manager took over the service, and we had no issues with communication after that. With all of these negatives I’ve mentioned so far, you probably do not even wish to read any further and cross Clay Oven off your list. But looks can be deceiving. The Clay Oven-cuisine wise-ended up being one of the best Indian meals we have had.

My wife started with the house Chardonnay from Woodbridge which according to the winemaker notes displays aromas of tropical fruit with a hint of cinnamon and maple, leading to a rich, toasty finish. I had a stout from Lion Brewery a Sri Lankan company founded in 1860 that has eight varieties to choose from. The stout at 8.8% ABV, and according to the beer makers tasting notes is a dark caramel, large dense headed brew, unique due to its sweet notes of chocolate and coffee interspersed into a foundation of dark roasted barley. Symbolic black to denote leadership, power, focus, and strength, is dominant in the labeling as the lion journeys in the twilight unafraid, unbowed and unchallenged. 

    • Appetizers
    • Soups, Salads, Yogurt
    • Continental Dishes
    • Tandoori
    • Sizzler Specialties
    • Vegetarian Specialties
    • Rice and Biryani
    • Bread from the Clay Oven
    • Desserts
While we looked over the menu pappads with assorted chutney dips were delivered to the table for us to start with, a very common starter like bread is to most American restaurants. The menu was very diverse going beyond Indian cuisine to include Mexican food, pitas, gyro’s, burgers, Italian pasta, and artisan pizzas. They also had over twenty starter dishes from chicken 65, aloo tikki chaat, samosas, idli, and others. We bypassed and went to entrees, though we did order some garlic naan that also went with our entrees as well.

With the entree section there were fifteen tandoori selections, several clay oven specials, and from the sauce sections, there were twelve to which both of us ordered from. With the sauce section, you can choose from several types of meat starting with chicken, lamb, goat, fish, shrimp, or lobster.  My wife had the tikka masala, a Punjab special made with tomatoes, and onions blanched and then cooked with ginger and garlic smothered in fresh cream and kasthori methi (fenugreek leaf) spices. The taste was very aromatic and a little on the spicy side, which I loved, but my wife thought was a little too spicy, but she still enjoyed it. 

Tikka Masala
I switched to wine with my entree order, having the house merlot from Silver Lake, a Napa vineyard. I thought about ordering the wine from Sula Vineyards which I have had in several other Indian restaurants, as it is the main exported wine from India, however, the restaurants stock of many items were out due to not having a delivery as it was less than two weeks after Hurricane Irma came through. My entree selection was a classic favorite of butter chicken masala, a slight modification from normal butter chicken recipes, made with a tomato puree and onion sauce cooked with paprika and methi, then folded in clarified butter and cream like a typical butter recipe concludes.

Butter Masala
The dishes were on the smaller side, so we also shared one of the artisan pizzas on the menu, a tandoori mango chicken pizza with smoked mozzarella, and homemade tomato sauce cooked in a clay oven. This pizza was very interesting, as I had not eaten an Indian style one before, as it was wonderful. There were three other pizzas on the menu to choose from as well.

Tandoori Chicken Pizza
The final entree section which we did not partake in, but had several items of interest was the vegetarian specialty section with twenty options to choose from Dahl to kadai paneer.  Though the service and ambiance were not the best, and several selections were unavailable due to the storm, this dining experience was wonderful, and we will return again.

We did not have room for dessert but when we return, their selections of interest include desi desserts (traditional north Indian desserts)  of rice pudding Gajar ka Halwa, Rasmalai, and Gulab Jaman Rabri, they also have crafted frozen Kulfi of Malai Strawberry Mango, a hot and crispy chocolate samosa of macaroons, and finally a Kulfi Falooda of homemade ice-cream flavored with cardamons and nuts topped with a South Florida screwpine plant flavored falooda.

Please see these guidelines for Tipping in Restaurants and on following proper etiquette, customs, cultures, and avoiding assumptions when you dine out.

Other Noteworthy Indian Cuisine Articles and Restaurants:
A Taste of India Casual curries of North & South with Buffet in Brandon, Florida
Armani / Amal A tasting tour of India at the Armani Hotel, Burj Khalifa Tower, Dubai, UAE
Ashiana The First Indian Fine dining restaurant at Sheraton Dubai Creek, Garhoud, Dubai, UAE
Mr. Todiwala’s Kitchen Vibrant Pan-Indian street-style Cuisine in Slough, United Kingdom

See the whole list by visiting “The Wine Dine and Play Article Glossary

Other St Petersburg restaurants and articles on Wine Dine and Play:

Sophisticated American Fare

St. Petersburg, Florida, USA
Colonial Portuguese Fusion with tapas
St. Petersburg, Florida, USA
New American, Southern Twist
St. Petersburg, Florida, USA
Innovative Finer Seafood and Raw Bar 
At the Sundial 
St. Petersburg, Florida, USA
Contemporary-Authentic Mexican Cuisine 
St Petersburg, Florida, USA
Organic Farmers Market in Pioneer Park
St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

A Few Florida Favorites:

Old-school English-American Eatery
St. Petersburg, Florida, USA
Music, food, and wine near pier 60
Clearwater / Beach, Florida USA
The “Last Local Beach Club”
Panama City Beach, Florida, USA
Homey seafood eatery in a 1903 cottage
Dunedin, Florida USA
Exploring the restaurant scene on this 7-mile long Gulf barrier island
Anna Maria Island Florida, USA
Relaxed hangout serving German Grub
Brandon, Florida USA

See the whole list by visiting “The Wine Dine and Play Article Glossary by country

Final notes, review basics, observations and more pictures:

Most reviews are subjective, depending on the writer; but they should also be responsible, and respectfully written, upholding the truth, and accurately conveying the experience to the best of the writer's knowledge, even if it includes metaphors the restaurant may not like to read about. My ratings are by the stars I award (from 0 to 5). The rating is calculated on a point accumulation of six separate factors based on individual experience. They include wine and other beverage selections, plate presentation, customer service, restaurant or café ambiance, food quality, and wow factor. To see more details of this rating list, read this article:

Overall from this experience, and the score factors outlined in the ‘about page’ section, based on my individual experience and rating, I give Clay Oven a 1 out of 5 stars, meaning that they were an average dining experience like most restaurants. Looks can be deceiving as the food was very good, however, ambiance, service, and beverage score factors kept there rating at one instead two or three stars.
Scores are detailed in the factor chart below:

Formula Factor Conclusions and Overall Ratings
Max Points Possible:
Total Points Awarded:
Total Points deducted:
Food quality
Plate presentation
Customer service
Alcohol and other beverages
Total regular points awarded
Total percentage — less the Bonus


“Wow” factor BONUS
Total bonus percentage


Total percentage and bonus for a final star rating


Stars Awarded (see chart below)
             0 - 5

**A full break down and explanation of the observations and point disbursement is available in the linked article above. To receive a detailed copy of your score, feel free to contact me at any time and I will provide it to you.**


Overall Star Rating:
1 of 5 Stars: 
70% Rating with a 1 point “wow” bonus
An Average Dining Experience
Wine rating:
2 of 10

New World selections: 
Australia,  California,  India
Corkage fee’s:
This Restaurant does not list any corkage fee’s however, most American restaurants charge 
$25.00 per bottle
Restaurant style:
Casual dining
Cuisine Style:
American, Indian, Italian, Mexican
Allergen or dietary accommodations: 
Gluten-Free, Halal, Local, Low Carb, Pescatarian, Vegetarian Options
Not Required
Dress code:
Casual attire
It’s Florida, everybody wears flip-flops!
Child policy:

The Restaurants reviewed on this site may have a kids menu or cater to them; however, for full enjoyment of food and wine, it is recommended that kids not to be in attendance, unless they have been trained in proper etiquette. 
If not then:
Hire a Babysitter! 
Contemporary, Rustic, Hole-in-the-wall, and a Neighborhood Gem.
Cash, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express
Private lot
The restaurants reviewed on this site may have Wi-Fi, but do not require you to go online, because the excitement of the food and wine alone will keep you too entertained instead of checking your social media and emails.
Noise level:
Nonsmoking restaurant
Patio or terrace:

Food Prices 
(excludes, alcohol, taxes & 20% gratuity’s)

$£€¥ -                Under 50.00 (inexpensive)
$£€¥ x 2 -          51.00- 99.00 (moderate)
$£€¥ x 3 -          Over 100.00 (pricy)
$£€¥ x 4 -          Over 200.00 (expensive)
$£€¥ x 5 -          Over 400.00 (very expensive)

**Currencies reflect the world’s major travelers, restaurant, or wine connoisseur’s**

United States Dollar (USD)
Great Britain Pound Sterling (GBP)
Canadian Dollar (CAN)
Chinese Yuan (CNY)  
European Union (EUR)

 Alcohol prices:

$13.00 USD

Clay Oven:

9047 9th St North
St. Petersburg, Florida 
33702, USA

Contact Information: 
Restaurant website:
Maître d or host:
+1 727-317-2921
Online reservations
Website Contact:
Email Contact:
Serving hours:
Eastern Standard Time
(GMT, Zulu, or UTC - 5:00)
11:30 am - 10:00 pm
Happy Hour
1-6 pm

The worlds best restaurants is a subjective list of who is writing it and changes on a regular basis. The Wine Dine and Play best experiences are based on my highest rated stared restaurants, meaning that the visit was an outstanding or extraordinary experience. From cafés, chains, mom + pops, hole in the walls, to fine dining including a few Michelin spots. Visit the Top 100 page to see the entire list.

A few to tease you with…

Impeccably prepared French fine dining
Dublin, Ireland
Countryside French Bistro
Cheverny, France
New American dining on a restored ship
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Other Pictures:


Lion Brewery

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