Fine diamonds, seafood in the mix for St. Petersburg's Sundial

LARA CERRI | Times

ST. PETERSBURG — A Naples seafood restaurant that has received national praise from Gourmet magazine and beyond is opening in the Sundial complex along with Diamonds Direct, a St. Petersburg mainstay since 1984.

Chef Fabrizio Aielli and his wife, Ingrid, were stars of the Washington, D.C., restaurant scene before moving to Naples and opening Sea Salt on posh Third Street in 2008. Now they will bring their flair for fresh food with a twist to the shopping center formerly known as BayWalk.

Aielli, a native of Venice, Italy, was out of the country and couldn't be reached for comment. Tanya Buchanan, general manager of the Naples location, confirmed that the chef is opening a restaurant at Sundial.

Entrees on the Naples menu, which includes black grouper, swordfish and venison osso buco, range from $28 to $59. Homemade pasta dishes are $24 to $29. Sea Salt received the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for the past five years. Gourmet called the restaurant "brilliant, accessible and irresistible."

Diamonds Direct will also have a hint of the sea, with a window display featuring jewelry submerged in 18-foot saltwater tanks. The 3,000-square-foot store will house jewels from around the world. It is creating a "sunshine cut," highly detailed with 97 facets, as a nod to the Sundial and the Sunshine City.

"This move is long overdue for us, but we've held out for the ideal opportunity and Sundial is it," said Gary Sanchez, Diamonds Direct CEO. The store will leave its longtime location at 5085 34th St. S.

Instead of the traditional over-the-counter setup of most jewelry stores, the new Diamonds Direct will be designed so the salesperson and customer can look at and even design pieces side by side.

The Marilyn Monroe Spa has also been confirmed as a part of the Sundial lineup, which is expected to include Ruth's Chris Steak House as well. The plaza expects to have most tenants in place and open by July.

Fine diamonds, seafood in the mix for St. Petersburg's Sundial 03/27/14 [Last modified: Thursday, March 27, 2014 9:55pm]

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