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Ciccio's California expanding to Brandon

RIVERVIEW — Promising to bring pasta, pizza, wraps and its signature California bowls to the area, restaurateurs James Lanza and Jeff Gigante announced this week they will open a Ciccio's California restaurant at Winthrop Town Centre this fall.

The partners expect to open in November in a building under construction on the east end of the mixed-use center. Ciccio's will share the 6,500-square-foot building with the Egg and I, a breakfast chain that plans to open in the fall.

Lanza and Gigante own five restaurants along S Howard Avenue, but they perfected the concept they're bringing to Winthrop at their restaurant outside of SoHo, Ciccio's in St. Petersburg. Lanza said they will look to match the menu, decor and atmosphere of the St. Petersburg restaurant and he expects the approach to play well in suburban environs.

"It's more laid back and a little bit more reasonably priced," said Lanza, whose team also owns Daily Eats, the Lodge and the Green Lemon on S Howard. "The concept in St. Petersburg is really getting a lot of good feedback. It's a very clean food concept and there's nothing in Brandon like that.

"It's great tasting food that's clean."

The food includes California bowls: a varied combination of themed tastes served over the diner's choice of steamed yellow rice, sticky rice, brown rice, farro, spaghetti squash or chilled Asian noodles. For example, the Mexican bowl comes with chopped chicken breast, black beans, tomato, avocado, sour cream, Cheddar cheese and crispy lettuce. The Napa Blue is a combination of shredded short rib beef with sauteed mushrooms, diced red onions, lettuce, blue cheese crumbles, diced tomatoes and crumbled bacon.

Diners also can get the California bowl combinations served on a grilled tortilla.

Its stir-fry offerings come in similar flavor flare, always with an eye toward health-conscious eaters wanting meals that are low on carbs and gluten free

Times food critic Laura Reiley wrote in a 2012 review: "The trick behind the success of Ciccio's food has always been that it's not abstemious: There are big flavors and lots of color and snap."

The restaurant also offers an all-day happy hour with drink specials and a Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Winthrop vice president Cynthia Manchesi said she joined Winthrop founders John and Kay Sullivan for a tour of the St. Petersburg restaurant and they fell in love with the approach.

"We loved the concept. It was very fresh," Machesi said. "The price point was good for Winthrop. It's a place where you can have a little bit of fun and it won't cost too much money."

Ciccio's California expanding to Brandon 05/18/13 [Last modified: Friday, May 17, 2013 3:45pm]

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