Most Tampa Bay area hotels eagerly court weddings, with banquet rooms, in-house catering, event coordinators and preferred vendors for everything from live music to flowers. Hotels in Pinellas County may have the added benefit of beach access, but Tampa hotels may also offer water views with boats bobbing in the bay. Cultural venues such as the Glazer Children's Museum or the Tampa Museum of Art are also regular go-to wedding venues, and special event halls such as Nova 535 in St. Petersburg or A La Carte Event Pavilion in Tampa are experienced wedding pros. • Still, Tampa Bay restaurants are able competitors for wedding business. Many boast substantial private dining spaces and most are amenable to closing entirely to the public for a special event. Here are some local restaurants known to elegantly host nuptial events, whether the ceremony itself, wedding reception or rehearsal dinner.
Jackson's Waterfront Room
601 S Harbour Island Blvd., Tampa
(813) 277-0112; jacksonsbistro.com
Located one level above the main restaurant, the Waterfront Room has floor-to-ceiling windows for a tremendous view of downtown and watercraft of all sorts circumnavigating the bay. The restaurant's orientation allows for sunset views on an outdoor balcony, and the space accommodates 120 guests for a cocktail event, 100 guests for a plated or buffet-style menu.
BRIO Tuscan Grille
2223 N West Shore Blvd., Tampa
(813) 373-2597; brioitalian.com
Brio offers the entire second floor of the venue as indoor and outdoor private event space, with six private rooms and two outdoor patios. Three of the private rooms are adjacent to an outdoor patio and three private rooms are attached to outdoor patio space allowing various opportunities to configure space to accommodate parties from 16 to 225. The upper-level event space has a separate kitchen and bar area as well as private restrooms to service events. A 19-page banquet menu gives a range of party possibilities, from appetizer platters and continental breakfasts to multicourse luncheons.
Eddie V's Prime Seafood
4400 W Boy Scout Blvd., Tampa
(813) 877-7290; eddiev.com
A new fine dining effort owned by Darden Restaurants competes head to head with Boy Scout Boulevard biggies like Ocean Prime and Roy's. Purveyor of high-end seafood and steaks, Eddie V's is a glamorous, business-friendly venture that focuses rigorously on each plate's protein (prime meats, etc.). With live music most nights in the V Lounge, Eddie V's has loads of private dining space, from the Speakeasy Room that seats up to 18, to the Wine Room that seats up to 34 and the Manhattan Room that seats up to 50.
Caretta on the Gulf/Sandpearl Resort
500 Mandalay Ave., Clearwater Beach
(727) 441-2425; sandpearl.com
The hotel's restaurant is a gorgeous room with beach views, but the Silver LEED-certified hotel also offers 25,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space, with three distinct ballrooms, the biggest of which can accommodate 600 guests standing, 325 seated. Personalized menus cover a breadth of price ranges, and the hotel offers a long list of preferred wedding professionals from photographers to florists. The Sandpearl also offers a complimentary return stay on your anniversary.
Black Palm Restaurant
109 Eighth Ave., Pass-a-Grille, St. Pete Beach
(727) 360-5000; blackpalmrestaurant.com
This mid-sized beachside "Nuevo Latino" restaurant hosts ceremonies, receptions, engagement parties and rehearsal dinners in a number of packages. For ceremonies, there is an a la carte menu for items from white garden chairs to wedding arches and sound systems. In order to reserve the restaurant (either entirely, or just the patio, bar or Shadow Room) for your private party, you commit to consuming a minimum amount of food and beverage, with an additional charge for service.
Island Way Grill
20 Island Way, Clearwater
(727) 461-6617; islandwaygrill.com
One of Tom Pritchard's and Frank Chivas' popular waterside spots, with a maximum capacity of 150, is a regular site of ceremonies, receptions and rehearsal dinners (not to mention bachelorette parties, baby showers, etc.). According to special events coordinator Sheri Aquilar, Island Way hosts close to 150 receptions a year, ranging from cocktail parties to seated dinners and buffets. As with all of this team's restaurants (Marlin Darlin, Island Way, Rumba), the wine list is exceptionally well conceived and the kitchen's skill with dayboat-fresh seafood is manifest with every dish.
Laura Reiley can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2293. Follow @lreiley on Twitter.