As the weather teases us with its fickle promise of cooler temperatures, the Tampa Bay restaurant scene also brings us slightly more promising culinary ventures. This month, be on the lookout for a new kava bar in St. Petersburg, a hipper version of a mom-and-pop soda fountain drugstore in Seminole Heights and a chicken and waffles food truck in Ybor City.
Formerly known as El Gallo Grande, the renovated Mexican restaurant opens today at 6 p.m. with a new menu, featuring tableside guacamole, fajitas and margaritas. Located at 1625 Fourth St. N in St. Petersburg, Nueva Cantina will have happy hour specials, with $3 well drinks, draft beer, house wine and house margaritas Monday through Saturday, plus brunch specials on Sunday.
Jersey Boy's Deli
Under new ownership, Jersey Boy's will hold a reopening celebration from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at 8517 Old Country Road 54 in New Port Richey. At the helm of the new establishment is Emilio Brandi, who's bringing Italian recipes to the menu. The Greater Pasco Chamber of Commerce will officiate a ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring samples, specials and a DJ.
Muddy Water Kava & Tea
The Tampa Bay kava scene is getting a new hangout at 6111 10th St. N in St. Petersburg. Featuring different strains of kava — a ground-up root that, when brewed, has calming and sedative effects — plus local teas, coffee and a dog park, the owners are hoping to have the bar ready to open by early November.
RyRy's Chicken & Waffles
This month, Ryan Gourgeon of James Joyce Irish Pub fame will start serving up chicken and waffles out of a food truck hitched in the parking lot of his restaurant at 1724 E Eighth Ave. in Ybor City. Be on the lookout for fried chicken, jumbo wings (in jumbo-sized amounts) and flavored waffles.
Mortar & Pestle
This soda fountain drugstore-meets-craft beer and wine bar hybrid is set to open at 6308-6310 N Florida Ave. in Seminole Heights this month. As with most ampersand eateries in the region, this revived and refurbished version of your mom and dad's drugstore will be multipurpose: a place to hang out with libations and small-plate snacks while you wait for your prescription to be filled.
Old Chicago Pizzeria & Tavern
This purveyor of authentic Chicago-style deep-dish pizza is opening up at 3100 Third Ave. N in St. Petersburg sometime in November or December. With pizza names like the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and Comiskey Park, the menu takes on a distinct Windy City flair. Try ordering a Wrigley Field salad or a Tommy Gun sub. (They also make their own Italian sausage.)
The Reading Room
From Freefall Theatre co-founder Kevin Lane comes a garden-inspired eatery focused on sustainability and organic grub. Located at 6001 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg, the menu will feature dishes partially comprised of the restaurant's garden-grown crops, a bagel bar, cocktails and other drinks, like Kaleisia Tea. The restaurant is slated to open in late November, according to chef Lauren Macellaro.
Know of any restaurants opening in the area? Contact Carlynn Crosby at firstname.lastname@example.org.