Culinary superstars opening market in St. Petersburg's Sundial

Culinary superstars are teaming up for a market concept and full-service restaurant.
Locale, a market concept, and Farmtable Kitchen, a full-service restaurant, will join St. Petersburg's Sundial retail center. DIRK SHADD   |   Times
Locale, a market concept, and Farmtable Kitchen, a full-service restaurant, will join St. Petersburg's Sundial retail center.DIRK SHADD | Times
Published June 5 2014
Updated June 5 2014

ST. PETERSBURG — A nationally celebrated chef and restaurateur is opening a 20,000-square-foot epicurean market this fall that will include a farm-to-table restaurant at Sundial.

Michael Mina, who has 20 acclaimed restaurants in hot spots like San Francisco, Las Vegas and Miami Beach, is creating his first market concept, Locale, specifically for St. Petersburg's newest retail center.

He is partnering with another culinary superstar, Don Pintabona, who was the executive chef at Robert DeNiro's Tribeca Grill in New York for 12 years.

"I love people with passion and who have a vision. … It's not just about going to the big cities, but partnering with someone who is committed to his community," said Mina, referring to Sundial owner Bill Edwards.

The restaurant, Farmtable Kitchen, will be on the second floor with three other restaurants, said Edwards Group president Rick Baker. He would not disclose what the others will be, but the Times has confirmed two of them, Ruth's Chris Steak House and Sea Salt.

Mina and Pintabona will be at Sundial today for the official announcement at 11 a.m.

Edwards has said a gourmet market was a mandatory piece of his vision for the shopping center since he bought it in 2011.

"There is an increasing demand if you talk to folks around the community for something just like this," Baker said. "We have close to 2,000 residential units in development and under construction downtown including over 300 units across from our center."

Baker was tight-lipped about the rest of the center's tenants, except to say a lot of retailers will open this summer and the space is almost fully leased.

Locale will occupy two floors on the northwest corner next to the movie theater. It will feature sections dedicated to produce, meats, seafood, cheese and wine along with a bakery, a separate chocolate bakery and a Willy Wonka-esque ice cream parlor.

Customers will be able to choose from a wide selection of prepared meals to go, or eat there at tables inside or out.

"We're taking the prepared food part of a grocery store and elevating that," Mina said. "We'll write a seasonal menu every month."

Eight proteins cooked to order will be staples, but side items such as roasted potatoes with marinated mushrooms or couscous and a pickled vegetable salad will rotate based on what's available at local farms.

Farmtable Kitchen will be a full-service restaurant and include terrace dining.

"The cuisine will be new American but the overall concept of the place is that it's developed by chefs," Pintabona said, adding that there will be influences from the Eastern and Western United States on the food. The market and restaurant will have a combined 200 seats.

Mayor Rick Kriseman called the market a great addition to the city.

"Markets like this are a necessary part of a vibrant, thriving downtown core," he said.

Locale will be about twice the size of local favorite Mazzaro's Italian Market on 22nd Avenue N, which is packed with customers during lunch and on Saturdays. (It's closed Sundays.)

Along with the 1,200-space city-owned MidCore parking garage, the downtown market will have limited parking in a lot Edwards owns across Second Street.

Locale won't be a place for shoppers to stock up on a week's worth of groceries, but Baker said it will feature much more than expensive gourmet fare.

Some Floridians may have already had a taste of Mina's culinary magic at his restaurant, Michael Mina 74 at the Fountainbleu hotel on Miami Beach.

Pintabona, a New York native, attended the University of South Florida and got his first cooking job at the Sea Wolf on Busch Boulevard years ago before going on to graduate from the Culinary Institute of America. After 9/11 he organized numerous New York chefs to serve more than 500,000 hot meals to first responders and relief workers at ground zero.

Kameel Stanley contributed to this report. Katherine Snow Smith can be reached at [email protected]