ST. PETERSBURG — Kurt Cuccaro aims to open his Annata Wine Bar on Beach Drive before the end of the month, tentatively shooting for Aug. 21 or 22 as the launch date.
In the space at 300 Beach Drive NE formerly occupied by AnnaStella Cajun Bistro, he hopes to do something that bears only a faint resemblance to Mazzaro's Italian Market, his family's longtime St. Petersburg institution.
"I'd say the only menu item that will resemble Mazzaro's will be the cheese and charcuterie part of the menu. We'll be featuring a lot of hard-to-get cheeses."
Cuccaro's goal was a casual "sit and nibble" concept to complement Beach Drive's array of full-service restaurants, from Parkshore and Cassis to the Birch & Vine at the Birchwood. He also believes that a wine bar concept will dovetail nicely with downtown's dense concentration of craft beer bars.
He worked with Urban Innovation on a design that "completely redid the space."
"I handed them a lot of photos of places I really like around the country. Then I threw in some ideas of my own and they threw in some of theirs. So it evolved. There are a lot of different textures going on in the design: There's brick and steel and marble and a lot of walnut in the bar and cabinetry. The overall effect is rustic modern, with clean lines. It's unique, but a style that I think is pretty hot in any big city right now."
The design incorporates repurposed wine boxes and barrels, which fits with Annata's mission: After tasting more than 500 wines, Cuccaro settled on 30 wines by the glass, ranging from $7 to $19, with 90 bottle selections, most under $75. Some Old World and some new, the varietals and wine styles show breadth, something echoed in the menu.
"The menu is quite a variety of different small plates and bar snacks, more European and Mediterranean than anything, priced from $7 to $18. Our plan is to change the menu quite often."
For now, Cuccaro is staying coy about a firm opening date for the 50-seat enoteca (Italian for "wine bar").
"We're training staff right now, and we're really trying to focus on service and wine knowledge."
Contact Laura Reiley at email@example.com or (727) 892-2293. Follow @lreiley.