PALMA CEIA — Lion tacos. Kangaroo tacos. Ostrich tacos. Gazelle tacos.
Rattler, gator, bison and snapper turtle, too.
The exotic twist on fresh-Mex cuisine will surely capture attention when Taco Fusion opens Dec. 17 on Bay to Bay Boulevard near MacDill Avenue.
The "safari tacos" are made of game meat purchased from approved suppliers, said owner Ryan Gougeon.
"We buy from animal farms where they are raised just for food consumption," he said. No rare or endangered animals will be served. Prices will be determined by market factors.
Gougeon launches his creative concept, featuring 24-hour weekend service, in a former fast-food Indian spot. He also owns the popular James Joyce Irish Pub in Ybor City.
A fusion of Asian flavors jump off the menu: duck tacos, General Tsao's burrito and pad thai chimichanga. Lobster can be ordered on nachos, tacos and fruit salad.
Tamer choices abound: steak, chicken, filet mignon, pork and shrimp are served in salads, tacos, burritos and enchiladas .
But a taco made with ghost pepper, said to be the "second hottest chili pepper in the world," requires a waiver. Restaurant manager Brad Barnett grows the peppers in his garden.
A Point Break burrito probably should require one, too. Billed as "five pounds of epicness" for $24.99, Gougeon says "it's massive. Probably will take four grown men to eat it."
There are plenty of American offerings for the less adventurous, including wings, Angus beef burgers and paninis.
Family deals — a whole suckling pig or a couple of whole chickens — feed three to five people. Dine in, take out or call for nearby home delivery.
Breakfast — bagel sandwiches, omelet burritos and such — will be served from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m. to attract the neighboring Starbucks clientele.
Taco Fusion, 3409 Bay to Bay Blvd., will be open 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Thursday; open 24 hours Friday and Saturday; and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday. Visit Taco-fusion.com or call (813) 902-TACO (8226).
Gait analysis for runners' fit
FITNiche's sales crew begins each customer's visit with a gait analysis to "see every nuance of the foot's natural rolling motion," says Richard Wills, who plans a Dec. 10 opening in Hyde Park Village.
Information from that biomechanical assessment takes the guesswork out of shoe shopping, says Wills, owner of FITNiche stores in Lakeland and Wesley Chapel. The inventory and much of the staff from a previous Clearwater store have been relocated to Hyde Park.
Individual analysis, using slow-motion video of a customer walking or running on a treadmill, helps match "unique needs to shoes that should be both more protective and comfortable."
"A lot of people don't realize running shoes are engineered for different gaits," said Wills, who has run the Hawaii Ironman triathlon. "We carry 150 styles, all the major brands."
FITNiche, 722 S Village Circle, will be open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Visit FITniche.com or call (813) 304-2162.
Portofino Jewelers relocates
Full-service Portofino Jewelers now sparkles on Henderson Boulevard, near Lois Avenue.
"This neighborhood has better access, less competition and shows off the new merchandise better," said owner Giuseppe Maniscalco, who relocated after nine years on S. Dale Mabry Highway. He is offering more affordable sterling silver jewelry, he said, in addition to a collection of 14- and 18-karat yellow and white gold jewels, some imported from Italy.
Custom design work is a specialty, adds Maniscalco, a Tampa jeweler for 30 years. Other services include jewelry and watch repair as well engraving, pearl restringing, ring-sizing and gold purchasing.
An accountant in Alessandria della Rocca, Sicily, prior to immigrating in 1981, Maniscalco shares his love for his roots by writing a weekly column about the Italian community for La Gaceta trilingual newspaper.
Portofino Jewelers, 4135 Henderson Blvd., is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
Visit PortofinoJewelers.com or call (813) 253-3058.
Send new business tips to Amy Scherzer at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3332.