Don’t let the black, tight t-shirt with the word “Sinner” worn by Joe DiMaggio deter you from having a spectacular meal at Café BarBosso.

In fact, the owner is really a gentle giant who likes the “wow” factor when it comes to impressing his patrons. And he does so in many ways, including appealing to their stomachs with an ambitious Italian menu that would make any Italian mother or grandmother proud.

He appeals to the art enthusiasts by showcasing an extensive collection of pop artwork prominently displayed on the restaurant walls. Here you will find local up and coming artists painting in real time while you savor your calamari.

Heightening the ambience of Café BarBosso is music that emanates outdoors on the lawn where you will find the Sarasota Jazz Project performing – a high energy 17-piece jazz ensemble comprised of some of the finest musicians on the West Coast of Florida. These talented all-stars play both original compositions and standard tunes, creatively arranged in a unique contemporary Big Band style.

Admittedly, DiMaggio (no relation to the baseball icon) looks more like a rock star than a chef, and his creativity has brough his homestyle restaurant through two years of the pandemic, “thinking about all the ways I could stay in business and give people good, affordable food throughout the quarantine period.” And he came through with flying colors by offering a takeout menu to families “for the same price as they’d get if going to McDonalds, only my takeout had pasta, protein and vegetables!” BarBosso’s endless procession of cars waiting in line for a pickup became the most congested parking lot in any strip mall in Sarasota. Throughout the pandemic, DiMaggio’s soft spot shined through by donating meals to Sarasota Hospital healthcare staff. “I like to give back,” he says shyly.

When Covid subsided somewhat and the stir-crazy public sought outdoor dining, DiMaggio reacted by renovated the outside of his restaurant to expand a porched-in section adjacent to the restaurant as well as open air dining outside. His thoughts extended to offering live music outside to life people’s spirits and make them feel like life returned to normal again. Soon enough, tailgate parties followed, as patrons picked up their meals from BarBosso and sat in lawn chairs in the parking lot to hear sounds of jazz greats and other well known local bands playing Classic Rock on different nights throughout the week.

DiMaggio will tell you that despite his fame, “we are just a humble little Peasant Italian place in Sarasota.” Indeed, a humble Italian place for patrons who want to eat like KINGS! The menu boasts (of course) “Grandma’s Meatballs” – a #1 appetizer favorite; “BarBosso’s Best” Chicken Parmesan (and it is!); 16 varieties of personal pizzas; 13 pasta dish combinations; 9 meat/fish entrees, and don’t miss their “Savor Sarasota” price-fix menu at $35 pp. Come with a full appetite and wear spandex clothes. The menu is ambitious and filling.

This article wouldn’t be complete without referencing Frank “Frankie Bumps” Barbosso, a nice Italian guy from 1930’s Little Italy in NYC. A typical “wise guy” of the times, he had an immense love of food and opened a great Italian restaurant named “Little Charlie’s” after his father in 1955 at the age of 26, it was an immediate success because people were forced to eat there. Enter “The Sinner” Chef Joe DiMaggio, Jr. who was a young boy in the 1960’s and played stick ball with his pals in front of Little Charlies. Frankie used to bet on all his stick ball games and befriended Chef Joe who eventually started out washing pots and pans in Frankie’s restaurant. As the story goes, in 1988 his mentor, Frankie, went on to be incarcerated “but he is proud to know that his name will live on and his food immortalized by me, Chef Joe DiMaggio, Jr. with the incarnation of Cafe BarBosso.”

Cafe Barbosso “Eat, Laugh & Love…. or Else” Leave it to a New Yorker to come up with this concept, and to quote a stereotypical New York phrase……Fuhgeddaboudit!

~ Andrea Martone, Executive Editor,,