NEXT UP: NEW PIZZA AND BURGERS
Extreme Pizza, a California-based franchise, is set to enter the Florida market, opening its first location at Coral Landings on U.S. 19 in Palm Harbor next week. With the tagline "Extreme. Not Mainstream," this is for pizza enthusiasts who want to push their daredevil taste buds to the limit, mixing flavors from North and South America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Franchisee Sean Parkinson and partner Richard Blanc have recruited George Yudell, the original Extreme Pizza director of operations, who brings two decades of pizza experience to the table. A second, larger location opens Feb. 4 on Mandalay Avenue in Clearwater Beach. At either location, look for a week of grand opening events and special deals. extremepizza.com.
And if you like your pizza extreme, you might like your burgers with a bit of drama. Opening up this month in a defunct Chinese restaurant spot at 2420 W Kennedy Blvd. in Tampa, Lithuania-based Drama Burger opens its first U.S. location. Drama Burger CEO Simas Slabaciauskas introduced the idea of house-made signature burgers to Lithuania. We've got plenty of those in Tampa, but maybe not this: the pastrami burger. And fancy burgers served with wine and craft beer isn't a run-of-the-mill occurrence, either.
You have what it takes? West Bay Public House hosts a Home Brew Competition Saturday at 3 p.m. The challenge pits home brewers' best beers and ales against others for the chance to win in different beer style categories. Guests sample the entries, with Fork in the Road food truck on site to provide ballast. No limit to how many beers home brewers may enter, must bring at least 64 oz. per brew for competition. $5 to taste brews, free to enter the contest. 80 Clearwater-Largo Road S, Largo. (727) 588-4444.
SWEET VISITOR: LINCOLN CARSON
Tampa's Rooster & the Till welcomes Lincoln Carson, one of the world's most-innovative pastry chefs, to Seminole Heights for an eight-course "Sweet & Savory" collaborative dinner and wine pairing on Monday. With 40 seats available for the special event, tickets are $150.
Says Carson of the event: "The big difference in this dinner, and the thing that makes it so much fun for me, is the chance to work in a slightly different creative direction. It's not rare to bring savory flavors into my food but it's a nice switch to work on the flip side of that by putting together some savory items and bringing a pastry chef's perspective to it."
The menu will utilize more than two dozen exotic elements like foie ganache, pink peppercorn rhubarb conserve, uni, pig head, harbison, Buddha's hand, trout roe, Meyer lemon custard, beets and duck "speck" — to immerse diners in a world where savory, flavors live in harmony alongside sweet ones, with Rooster co-owner Ty Rodriguez pairing wine for each course. To sign up, visit bit.ly/sweetxsavory.
LIGHTEN UP: TOOJAY'S
Feeling those new year blues (translate: got bloat?)? TooJay's Deli, known for its hearty New York deli comfort food, is introducing a "Lite Choose Too" menu with 300 combinations under 600 calories. This new menu option allows guests to create their own combinations of salads, sandwiches and soups. It goes like this: House Salad + Corned Beef Sandwich on Rye Bread for 420 total calories; Chicken Noodle Soup + TooJay's Chopped Salad for 445 total calories; etc. Calorie counts are based on Choose Too portions and do not include extras such as crackers and beverages. Still, it's nice to be directed toward the lighter stuff while we're still in resolution mode. For locations, visit TooJays.com.