When it comes to casual, family-friendly dining, you're doing yourself a disservice if you're going to the same big chain restaurants in Tampa week in and week out.  While dependable, these big name restaurants often can't match the originality, deliciousness, and friendliness of a mom and pop kind of restaurant.

The Gathering Place is one of these restaurants.  Opened just over three months ago in North Tampa, The Gathering Place offers Tampa locals and visitors alike a commendable assortment of fresh, wood-fired pizzas, sandwiches, entrees, appetizers, and more, all prepared in their quaint kitchen with the freshest local ingredients they can get their hands on.

The main attraction at The Gathering Place is, far and beyond, their pizzas cooked fast in the kitchen's large, wood-burning oven.  Pizza here comes in original, delicious varieties including the classic Margherita with marinara, fresh mozzarella, and a fresh basil topping; the Hang Ten with house-smoked bacon, marinara, pineapple, and mozzarella; and their special, The Lutz Boy with house-smoked chicken, barbecue sauce, drunken caramelized onions, and mozzarella.

The appetizers at The Gathering Place are also quite popular.  Meal-starters like Florida-style crab cakes with mango salsa and citrus aoli as well as their Latin-inspired concoction of crispy plantains topped with pulled pork and black bean/corn salsa known as Cuban Nachos.

Even with all of this, we've barely broken the surface of all the great, fresh, homestyle food The Gathering Place has to offer.  Guess it's up to you to head out and try this one of a kind North Tampa restaurant for yourself.