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Restaurant news: Tampa Bay area openings, updates

Bamboo shoots into our local lexicon

Bamboo seems to be a new buzzword of sorts. Last weekend marked the opening of Twisted Bamboo in Bay Arbor Place at 3687 Tampa Road in Oldsmar. The concept incorporates the familiar tropical drinks (plus increasingly ubiquitous mojito and martini menus) and a roundup of fun pan-Asian dishes in a lively atmosphere.

In Tampa, Bamboozle is packing them in downtown at 516 N Tampa St. Quick and healthy Vietnamese fusion has charmed office workers at lunch (breakfast and dinner may be on the horizon), with classic pho and traditional noodle salads, followed up by the oh-so-sweet Vietnamese coffee lush with sweetened condensed milk.

Out with gelato, in with Irish coffee

One of Tampa's best Italian dessert spots has closed. La Casa Dolce Cafe on S Howard Avenue succumbed primarily to terrible parking and a lack of kids (notorious gelato eaters) in the neighborhood. They're looking for another space, but will ditch the wine and beer and focus strictly on gelato, desserts and coffee. The vacated space has been taken over by the owners of MacDinton's Irish Pub and Restaurant across the street.

At Partners: merging games, music, food

Another grand opening last weekend took place at the new Partners Sports Cafe at 2924 Fifth Ave. N in the historic Kenwood neighborhood in St. Petersburg. According to owners Alain and Emerson Grainger (formerly of Velvet Underground on Fourth), the menu is overseen by Lisa Robinson, a Wolfgang Puck alum and former chef at Race Rock in Orlando. Gourmet sandwiches and homey dishes like lasagna make up the menu, with a dance area, game room and regular live music enlivening the dining room. For details, call (727) 321-0088.

Gulfport chef dabbles in look-alike Dali

Congratulations are in order for Jose Luis Pawelek, chef/owner of Elements Global Cuisine Restaurant in Gulfport. He won the Salvador Dali Look-alike Contest held earlier this month at St. Petersburg's Dali Museum. In celebration of the artist's 104th anniversary of his birth, dozens of entrants sent in a video depicting their interpretation of either Dali or one of the artist's surrealistic works. The video was judged by famed filmmaker John Waters, and the in-person contest was judged by local celebrity and publisher of Citilife Magazine, Sterling Powell. "I chose Jose Luis as the winner since he stayed in character during his video as well as throughout the evening."

Smoke Barbecue opens in Tampa

Smoke Barbecue & Grill opens this week at 901 Platt St. in Tampa. One of uber-restaurateur Gordon Davis' partners, Rick Knapik, a former chef at Ceviche in Tampa, describes the menu as "New World barbecue." This means traditional dry-rubbed pork shoulder, brisket, spareribs and huge beef ribs, a Hawaiian rotisserie chicken, skewers of shrimp and scallops, and other skewers of mixed veggies. Whole meal prices will hover between $15 and $21, with side dishes that include sweet potato fries, Asian-inflected cole slaw and sauteed greens. A liquor license is still pending, but the aim is just beer and wine. For information, call (813) 254-7070.

Laura Reiley, Times food critic

Restaurant news: Tampa Bay area openings, updates 05/20/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 20, 2008 4:30am]
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