BENTO ASIAN KITCHEN & SUSHI
Orlando-based Bento Asian Kitchen + Sushi, a quick-casual pan-Asian restaurant with nine locations throughout Florida, is poised to introduce its concept to downtown St. Petersburg. The location is set to open any day at 330 Third St. S in the AER apartment building near the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.
"We've been eyeing the Tampa Bay market for a few years now," Bento Group owner Johnny Tung said. "Specifically, the downtown development boom in St. Petersburg has been amazing to watch. The growing business district, residential condo boom, nearby USF St. Petersburg campus, and the notable hospitals make the area a thriving market."
This is a millennial's dream: a vast, customizable menu including bento boxes, noodles and sushi; quick, casual service; a sleek, contemporary atmosphere modeled after popular cafes in urban Taiwan and Japan; and prices that cluster in the $7 to $10 range.
Nick Pappas of FlameStone in Oldsmar is getting ready to open a second location in Trinity. It will be located at 10900 State Road 54, where the old Grille 54 was located. Pappas says he anticipates opening the Trinity location at the end of August. "We completely gutted the place and have spent a substantial amount making it feel like a FlameStone. We're excited about it."
He also says he's close to signing a lease on a third location in Tampa.
BOILED PEANUTS: Hot Nutz boiled peanuts restaurant now open in Tampa
GET FOOD SMARTS:
At a class at Cru Cellars in Tampa on Saturday, chocolatier Maggie Prittie of Prittie's Cocoa Cafe shows how to tell the difference between ordinary and artisanal chocolate, and what to look for when buying chocolate. Those who attend the class will create their own chocolate and package the pieces using handmade papers and ingredients. 1:30-4 p.m. 2506 S MacDill Ave., Tampa. $50, registration required and supplies are included. (813) 831-1117.
Locale Market offers a First Friday Tasting Tour, really a self-guided tour of the market, exploring culinary stations along the way, each with different signature menu items and with craft beer and wine pairings available. After that, head up to FarmTable Kitchen for extended happy hour specials. 6:30-10 p.m. Friday. 179 Second Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $19.99 advance, $24.99 at the door. (727) 523-6300.
JAMES BEARD MENU
Did you head up to New York a couple weeks ago for Il Ritorno's triumphant dinner at the James Beard House? Me neither (I'm still pouting). Well, chef David Benstock and team are recreating the six-course meal through Saturday, for $135 per person. I did get to try a couple of the dishes as they conceived some of them a few weeks ago, and I can vouch for the 50-day dry-aged steak tartare in a parmesan tuile, and the squid ink pasta with Key West pink shrimp wasn't too shabby, either. Reservations are required. 449 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. (727) 897-5900.