Yes, there were many dozen restaurant openings in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties over the past year, many of them pizzerias (two on the same block in St. Pete) and purveyors of wings, burgers, tacos, sandwiches or Asian noodles.
What became scarcer were sit-down restaurants, high-end restaurants, special-occasion restaurants or the kind of ambitious establishments that elevate our status on the national culinary stage. Even some of our most notable restaurants in that vein refocused their efforts on more casual and affordable fare (the Refinery), others closed entirely (Pearl in the Grove) and still others retooled to accommodate the growing enthusiasm for grab-and-go and delivery (BT to Go and Bistro BT).
Behind it all, unwavering, is the dining public's quest for a bargain.
And so, this year, let us celebrate what we do have in abundance. Let us dive deep into the very good work being done by Tampa Bay restaurants at more modest price points — all those pizzas, wings, burgers, tacos, sandwiches and Asian noodles.