Thursday, August 16, 2018
Dining

Hotly anticipated Ichicoro Ane is now open in St. Petersburg

Noel Cruz seemed remarkably chill. As did his partner Kerem Koca. All around them in the Station House building in St. Petersburg, workers pounded the last nails, bartenders unpacked boxes of glassware and jewel-toned bottles of Amari, and the kitchen rolled through a final round of karaage and izakaya small plates. The floors of Ichicoro Ane remained a rough, unfinished concrete and rooms were essentially demarcated by slats of blonde wood, reminiscent of the flagship Ichicoro restaurant in Seminole Heights. Overall: clubby, spare and New York-hip.

It was all leading up to the public debut Sunday, which was, of course, World Ramen Day. Now, a buzzed-about new addition to Tampa Bay’s ramen scene is officially up and running.

Ichicoro Tampa is just 40 seats. This new location in St. Pete is many times that size, plus Cruz has recently opened an outpost of his food hall Imoto ("little sister") ramen concept in Birmingham, Ala.,’s historic Pizitz Building, and is around the corner from opening another version at the Heights Public Market poised to open in the Armature Works building in Tampa Heights.

And still, Cruz has remained calm. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, this is not his first rodeo. He tested out his "Tampa-style ramen" a few years back in New York City and A-list celebs like Gwyneth Paltrow showed up to wait in line. When his team debuted in Seminole Heights it was among the hardest seats in town to nab — folks waiting up to two hours to slurp down gorgeous ramen in just minutes.

MORE: Downtown's only 24-hour restaurant has opened

Ichicoro Ane is "older sister" in Japanese, and despite the fact that this big sib is younger, it’s clearly a more ambitious project, a collaboration with Gries Investment Funds partner Steve Gianfilippo who owns the Station House building. Over here is the DJ booth; back there is the Sipping Lounge, with low chartreuse couches and doors that close off the reservation-only lounge from the rest of the concept. There’s the ramen room on one side of the hostess stand, first-come-first-served and the only part of the restaurant where one can order ramen (a very different lineup than what is on offer at the restaurant in Tampa, incentive for ramen nuts to cross the bay). The main dining room accepts reservations, the ramen room visible through those wooden slats, the main bar on view in the other direction.

The Times got a quick daytime tour of the space last Monday, then scooted back in to observe the friends-and-family events. Cruz and co-chef Branden Lenz are offering a number of raw fish dishes, dumplings and a range of smaller sharables to complement the ramen room menu. Ichicoro Ane is dinner only in Phase One, but will add brunch and then lunch down the pike. It joins a remarkable number of restaurants that will debut in St. Petersburg between now and the end of the first quarter of 2018.

Contact Laura Reiley at [email protected] or (727) 892-2293. Follow @lreiley.

Comments
Dining events: Bolts Brew Fest, Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month

Dining events: Bolts Brew Fest, Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month

BOLTS: BREW FESTI was going to list all the craft brewers whose wares will be on offer at 7 p.m. Friday at this year’s Bolts Brew Fest, a Tampa Bay Lightning benefit for the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. But with 50 local breweries alone, and another ...
Published: 08/15/18
Updated: 08/16/18
Asian-inspired Chop Chop Shop takes over Nicko’s in Seminole Heights

Asian-inspired Chop Chop Shop takes over Nicko’s in Seminole Heights

Folks around Seminole Heights will soon be able to eat Asian-inspired food with the spirit of the King.Nicko’s Fine Foods , one of the last standing classic American-style diners in Tampa Bay and the spot where Elvis Presley ate after his 1956 concer...
Published: 08/14/18
Amalie Arena tries to lure millenials to its Firestick Grill

Amalie Arena tries to lure millenials to its Firestick Grill

TAMPA — How to attract the cool kids? This is the mantra for so many restaurants these days: That huge generation of millennials eats differently, thinks differently and spends differently than their parents. So how do you reel them in and make them ...
Published: 08/14/18
Restaurant review: Oak & Stone brings a lot to an already thriving downtown St. Petersburg dining and beer scene

Restaurant review: Oak & Stone brings a lot to an already thriving downtown St. Petersburg dining and beer scene

ST. PETERSBURG You stand up. You show your ID and get a wristband. A server walks you to the wall and through the options: more than 50 taps, grouped by style, mostly local (Tampa Bay Brewing Company, Green Bench, 3 Daughters, etc.) and regional cra...
Published: 08/13/18
Restaurants closing and changing hands: Silas Dent’s, Salty Rim Grill and more

Restaurants closing and changing hands: Silas Dent’s, Salty Rim Grill and more

SILAS DENT’SAfter 39 years of business, Silas Dent’s Steakhouse at 5501 Gulf Blvd. in St. Pete Beach has been sold to the owners of Caddy’s on the Beach. It will be retrofitted and reopened as the boat-up Caddy’s St. Pete.In 1978, Ted Stambaugh, Rob...
Published: 08/08/18
TeBella founder Abigail StClair talks tea facts you may not know

TeBella founder Abigail StClair talks tea facts you may not know

When Abigail StClair studied at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass., she set her sights on preveterinary classes, specifically marine mammals. Why? Because it was the hardest curriculum. A postcollege stint as a whale trainer at the Mystic A...
Published: 08/08/18
Restaurant review: Alsace Bistro is doing a solid job bringing the foods of northeast France to Tierra Verde

Restaurant review: Alsace Bistro is doing a solid job bringing the foods of northeast France to Tierra Verde

TIERRA VERDEIt has always been a charming restaurant space, tucked at the back of the little shopping center adjacent to Billy’s Stone Crab on the way to Fort De Soto Park. I reviewed it when it was the German Crepe House, and maybe again shortly aft...
Published: 08/06/18
Rooster and the Till owners will open a taqueria in Sparkman Wharf

Rooster and the Till owners will open a taqueria in Sparkman Wharf

TAMPA — Sparkman Wharf, a part of the $3 billion Water Street Tampa neighborhood, has revealed the first major restaurant of its promised ten regional chefs and restaurateurs to join the lineup of culinary concepts.Two of Tampa’s most celebrated rest...
Published: 08/02/18
Restaurant openings: Left Bank Bistro, Nekter, Mekenita Cantina

Restaurant openings: Left Bank Bistro, Nekter, Mekenita Cantina

NOW OPEN: MEKENITA CANTINAOne of my favorite Mexican spots has pulled up stakes in Lutz, changed its name from Mekenita Mexican Grille to Mekenita Cantina and moved to a central spot at 6707 N Florida Ave. in Seminole Heights. Bodega and Mandarin Hei...
Updated one month ago
Restaurant review: Frank Chivas’ new Belleair Bluffs spot Seaweed is a revelation with fresh fish and an interesting menu

Restaurant review: Frank Chivas’ new Belleair Bluffs spot Seaweed is a revelation with fresh fish and an interesting menu

BELLEAIR BLUFFSI’ve been writing about Baystar Restaurant Group since I started at the Times 10 years ago. I’ve been writing about its founders Frank Chivas and the late, larger-than-life Tom Pritchard for just as long. I’ve reviewed most of their re...
Updated one month ago