Tasting Thomasville: Chinese Buffets & Moonspin Pizza

Tuesday Revews-Day

Wherever you live, you probably have a list of favorite restaurants; places you go when you’re craving X, Y, or Z that can always count on. Relocation means finding new favorites, and can make for some truly tasty homework as you get to know your new town.

Obviously, that’s exactly what we’ve been working on, bit by bit, starting with the first evening we spent in Thomsaville as new home-owners.

I’m not a fan of buffets. If I wanted to fix my own plate, I’d have stayed home and cooked, okay? Plus, the “all you can/care to eat” feature is lost on me as I purposely try not to stuff myself. The one exception to trough-style places is Chinese buffets. For whatever reason these get a pass from me and I really do appreciate a good Chinese buffet, especially for nights where cooking is out but you want food in a hurry that didn’t come from a drive-thru window.

Since we were downtown for the local Rose Parade and Festival, we decided to test out the nearby Chinese place: Hong Yip. The food wasn’t anything spectacular (the buffet, at least, we haven’t tried them for take-out, yet) and it felt a little dive-ish, so we’ll just leave it at that (though the barefoot patrons at the next table could have contributed to that feeling a little more than usual). The Urban Spoon reviews are pretty good, though, so maybe we just caught them on a bad night, who knows? Another weekend, still on the hunt, we walked into and right back out of Yummi Express (it involved a walk-up counter, not what we were after; again, we might try them another time) and headed up the road to the Hibachi Buffet (not sure if it has another name).

The Hibachi Buffet looked like it used to be a Ryan’s or something similar from the layout inside, but the buffet was large and featured a fair amount of variety (including frog legs, for those so inclined). Nothing amazing, but passable. They even had basic sushi and, while I didn’t try it this time, a hibachi option that was actually manned. It got the job done and we’d probably go back, but it still wasn’t as good as our favorite buffet in Tallahassee.

Sadly, the best sushi in Thomasville appears to be at the Publix deli. But, hey, at least now we know!

Having explored our limited Asian-cuisine options close to our new home (we’ve seen a sign for a 4th option, but we’re not sure if it’s actually still in business), we moved onto another staple: Pizza!

Image via MoonspinPizza.com

Image via MoonspinPizza.com

If I recall correctly, Todd did some digging and found out that Moonspin Pizza offered a gluten-free crust, so giving them a shot was an easy yes. Turns out, Moonspin is quite the place to be on a Friday night: we managed to snag a table inside but just barely, and a considerable crowd was not too far behind us!

He ordered the large calzone. He also took some of it home!

He ordered the large calzone. He also took some of it home!

Todd ordered a calzone and I ordered a gluten-free, sauce-less, onion-less version of their Lucky Moon (chicken, arugula, and feta) with a bit of olive oil brushed on the crust.

They say they make everything in-house, but I didn't ask if everything included their gf crust.

They say they make everything in-house, but I didn’t ask if everything included their gf crust.

The pizza was fantastic, but I doubt they’ll be a last-minute take-out option. Moonspin bills itself (and rightly so) as gourmet pizza and their prices reflect that (His calzone, my pizza, and our drinks came to just over $30). Still, we now know where the good pizza is!

Next time, though, I think I’ll order their Salad Pizza. (Yes, a salad served on a 10″ pizza crust–someone next to us ordered that and it looked so good!)

These aren’t mean to be full-fledged reviews, just our impressions as we try out different places in our new town. Next time on Tasting Thomasville it’s time for Mexican and BBQ (though not on the same night, or even on the same weekend!).

Take a Bite Of: Picasso’s, Jacksonville, Florida


Sometimes a Plan B is the better course to take.

Pun totally intended.

When in Jacksonville last month for our final convention appearance of the year we were in a different part of town than usual and cast about for a place for dinner.

Finding out that there was a “Monkey’s Uncle Tavern” just down the street seemed like fate for me with my monkey obsession. They had good reviews and the menu seemed nice and easy, so off we went.

Only to walk into a wall of cigarette smoke within 5 feet of the door.

That wasn’t going to work (and we were a bit puzzled since the entirety of Florida is a non-smoking restaurant state*) so we high-tailed it out of there and decided to check out the place at the other end of the sidewalk we’d seen as we drove by.

Picasso's in Jacksonville, Florida

What we found was Picasso’s. An exposed-brick and chalkboard sort of place that seems to specialize in pizza and homemade pastas. They were still writing up that night’s wine list on one of their large chalk boards when we arrived and a few tables were occupied, but it was still a bit early in the evening. Over the course of our meal, however, we saw several patrons come in to pick-up pizzas, and nearly all the tables and booths were full when we left.

But what did we eat?

Picasso's Entrees

After ordering a glass of Pinot Noir, I settled on the pasta special of the night–a wide noodle pasta with mushrooms and a rich broth–while Todd went with Signature Pasta Trio. My dinner choice didn’t exactly mesh with the wine, but that’s the chance you take when you drink what you like and order wine before you’ve decided on entrees. Still, everything was excellent and, oh, those breadsticks. We were tempted to get an order to take back with us to the hotel for midnight snacking, they were that good. (Apparently they get them from a local bakery, the name of which escapes me, but our waiter said it like it was well-known among the locals.)

Desserts from Picasso's in Jacksonville, Florida

The portions were plentiful but not so much that we didn’t still have room for dessert. I chose the German Chocolate Cake white Todd went with the Chocolate Torte. Both were delicious.

Our bill was just $49 + tax and tip for a glass of wine, 2 entrees, and 2 desserts.

There’s a very good chance that we’ll be back at the same hotel in April and you can bet Picasso’s will be on our list for a revisit.


*The best guess on this is that the Tavern must make more than half its revenue in non-food sales, ergo smoking is still allowed.

Picasso’s is located at 10503 San Jose Blvd, Jacksonville, FL. We were not compensated in any way for this “review,” we just really enjoyed ourselves.

Again, apologies for the poor quality of the images–this was part of the set damaged in transfer and all I have are thumbnails. Butter than nothing, I guess!

Take a Bite Of: Buca di Beppo


Last weekend, for our 5th anniversary, Todd and I planned to go out for dinner but without any sort of cravings one way or another. The destination up in the air, I remembered some discounts we received at the office for the newly opened Buca di Beppo so decided to give it a try.

Well, after first looking up the menu to make sure there were ample non-tomato sauced dishes for me to choose from (always a peril at Italian restaurants).

Thankfully, Buca di Beppo has quite an extensive menu and I had plenty of choices. Also a plus was with family-style dining, a single entree (which looks pricey on its own) easily serves 2 so even with the a la carte side dishes, dinner is quite affordable if you’re willing to eat the same as your dining partner. And if not, you’ve definitely got lunch for the next day for each of you!

We went with the sharing option, but not before starting off the evening with cocktails and appetizers.

A Mediterranean Orange for Todd

Mediterannean Orange cocktail from Buca di Beppo

and a Lemon Basil Vojito for me.

Lemon Basil Vojito cocktail from Buca di Beppo

Both were quite tasty, though Todd’s benefited from ditching the pretty layers in his drink and stirring it up to mix the melon liqueur in the bottom with the rest of his drink. Definitely smoothed it out.

For our appetizer we couldn’t–or didn’t want to–settle on just one thing, so went with the sampler platter. It worked out perfectly: Todd got the mozzarella triangles, I got the mushrooms (stuffed with a creamy cheese mixture and with a pesto cream sauce), and we split the mass of calamari.

Appetizer Trio from Buca di Beppo

And speaking of the calamari, it was fried but not greasy, and the breading was very light, letting the flavor of the squid come through instead of just tasting breading.

Before we’d finished our trio of appetizers our entree arrived. We’d both been intrigued by the Veal Saltimbocca (also available with chicken) that we’d seen on our at-home menu perusal and once at the restaurant we were both still leaning that way.

Veal Saltimbocca from Buca di Beppo

The veal was wrapped in prosciutto and topped with artichoke hearts and a lemon caper sauce–it was like veal met our favorite bacon-wrapped artichoke heart appetizer and there’s nothing wrong with that ideas at all!

Green Beans side dish from Buca di Beppo

With a side of green beans (which the waitress cautioned us was very lemony, though we didn’t have any problem with it) the dinner was more than complete, to the point that we couldn’t even contemplate dessert.

When it comes to chains, what they might lack in originality they make up for in reliability. Buca di Beppo has made a favorable impression on us with this first visit and we’re certainly open to returning.


The discount coupon I used for this visit was through a workplace promotion. This “review” was not solicited in any way and all opinions and experiences are our own. Your mileage may vary–but you’ll never know if you don’t try it yourself 😉