Restaurant openings and closures
Dal'Italia Ristorante & Pizza has closed at 2220 Fourth St. N in St. Petersburg. In its place Athenian Garden will open a new location with a target date of mid-September. The menu will contain the same Greek standbys available at the other three family owned locations.
Carmel Café & Wine Bar, which first introduced what it describes as "Mod Med" cuisine in Clearwater, will soon be serving the same modern interpretations of classic Mediterranean dishes in Carrollwood starting Sept. 13. The new Carmel Café & Wine Bar, located at 14306 N Dale Mabry Highway in Landmark Plaza, will initially be open for dinner from 5 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday. Nov. 1 marks the start of lunch service Tuesday through Friday. Carmel Café is one of the first restaurants in the area to incorporate iPads as a tool for diners in selecting wine or facilitating food and wine pairings. For additional information, go to carmelcafe.com.
Florida native and entrepreneur Ron Stewart and chef Gary Moran have teamed up to create Knife & Co., set to open in September at 912 W Kennedy Blvd. in Tampa. With a tagline describing itself as a "rustic, artisanal experience," the newcomer will feature an 1890s pulpit used as a hostess stand, reclaimed black walnut tables and wine cellar, ebony black seating, a concrete bar, and a communal table. The cuisine? Well, Knife & Co. aims to be "cutting edge." Ba-dum-bump.
Mattison's Riverside in Bradenton will become Pier 22 Restaurant, Patio, and Ballroom on Sept. 1. The name Pier 22 comes from the adjacent red channel marker 22 on the Manatee River that leads into the Twin Dolphin Marina and restaurant. Hugh Miller, the managing general partner for the restaurant and marina said, "I am really excited about our new name. I feel it gives the restaurant a more modern look and better represents the expansive and creative menu our culinary team has created over the years." The restaurant will offer a full sushi bar and a fresh whole fish procurement program. Pier 22 is located in historical downtown Bradenton at 1200 First Ave. W; (941) 748-8087.
Rumor has it Seble Gizaw, owner of Queen of Sheba, one of Tampa's few Ethiopian restaurants, is looking for a second location in the Central Avenue corridor of St. Petersburg. More when we find out "wat's wat" (a little Ethiopian food humor).
Wine Madonna opened at the beginning of August at 111 Second Ave. NE in St. Petersburg, sharing the courtyard with the Ale & the Witch. Owners Kris Radish (a novelist and former newspaper journalist) and Madonna Metcalf (a certified sommelier) aim to work with the craftbrew tap house — live music in the courtyard six nights a week provides an atmospheric backdrop for tippling of either the grape or hops variety. According to Radish, the new wine-tasting lounge offers about 65 wines, 45 by the glass, running the gamut from New World to Old World wines at every price point: "We don't want to intimidate anyone. Our working motto is 'seek happiness.'" Wine Madonna is working with a local caterer to provide nibbles, with a goal of offering wine classes as well as food-and-wine-pairing evenings with local chefs. For more information, call (727) 289-7257.
The Florida Winery of Madeira Beach is the first winery in the state to bring home "best of class" in the honey wine category along with the "Honey Wine of the Year" trophy for its Pirate Mead from this year's Indy International Wine Competition at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. It's one of the country's biggest wine competition (more than 2,400 wines from 15 countries and 40 states). The Florida Winery is in John's Pass Village, on Madeira Beach; vinoflorida.com. Another local winery, Florida Orange Groves Winery in Pasadena won "best of class" for its orange/pineapple "Coco Polada."