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Laura Reiley, Times Food Critic

Laura Reiley

Laura Reiley is the Tampa Bay Times' restaurant critic and a former critic for the San Francisco Chronicle and the Baltimore Sun. She is the author of four books in the Moon Handbook series: Florida Gulf Coast; Walt Disney World and Orlando; Tampa and St. Petersburg; and the Paradise Coast. She has cooked professionally and is a graduate of the California Culinary Academy.

Phone: (727) 892-2293


Twitter: @LReiley

  1. Restaurant review: At Black Rock Bar and Grill, you could cook most of your own food, to mixed results

    Food & Dining


    Kramer says to Jerry and Elaine, "It's a pizza place where you make your own pie! We give you the dough, the sauce, the cheese ... you pound it, slap it, you flip it up into the air ... you put your toppings on and you slide it into the oven! Sounds good, huh?"

    And every Seinfeld viewer in the land thinks, "Remind me why I'm going out for dinner again? If I wanted to make the pizza, I'd stay home."...

    Bartender Linda Tagliarini pours alcohol into a glass to make a smoked old fashioned at Black Rock Bar & Grill in Tampa.
  2. A peek inside Uncle John's Pride, where local artisanal sausage is made



    You're at a University of South Florida football game, or maybe attending the Kumquat Festival in Dade City, and you smell it, the come-hither waft of smoked country sausage. Possibly you're at a Lightning game tucking into a fat bratwurst or even one of the crazy 24-inch hot dogs sold during playoff games. Do you wonder about these wieners? Who made them and how?

    In the last gasping days before this interminable election cycle comes to a close, it is easy to nod along with what John Godfrey Saxe purportedly wrote in the Daily Cleveland Herald in 1869: "Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made."...

    Smoked sausage hangs in the factory at Uncle John’s Pride. The company moved to the current location in 1975.
  3. Dining Planner: St. Pete Wine and Food Festival comes to North Straub Park

    Food & Dining


    Last year, the highlight was Il Ritorno's 4,500 mezzaluna stuffed with braised short rib, which chef David Benstock napped with truffle fonduta and topped with shaved truffle flown in from Italy. But, man, the first St. Pete Wine & Food Festival was warm. Shuttling between the two massive tents in North Straub Park, I was shvitzing as I interviewed festivalgoers, wine vendors and the event founders, Dawna Stone and her husband, Matt Dieter. The couple previously owned a large running event company before selling it in 2012, but nearly immediately began missing putting on large events. And thus the first St. Pete Wine & Food Festival was born....

    Amy Daniels of Tampa; Shannon Moyles of Clearwater; and Lisa Lossie of Atlanta sample wines at the Grand Tasting during last year’s St. Pete Wine & Food Festival at North Straub Park in St. Petersburg. Restaurants from the area and wineries from all over provided the tastings.
  4. Restaurant review: Fresh ingredients elevate the fare at D'Mexican

    Food & Dining


    I fretted over the apostrophe. Not a student of Spanish, I still couldn't remember many apostrophes in the language, not even for possessives. So what did this mean: D'Mexican? Turns out, according to owners Manuel Trujillo, Juan Pablo Quevedo and Nelson Saldarriaga, the sign could only be so wide. They were going for the Mexican, a nod of sorts to the movie with Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts, but adopted a more expedient contraction....

    D’Mexican’s Azteca lunch, with chicken flauta and chile relleno, comes with rice and beans. The chile rellenos are especially noteworthy.
  5. Interview: Ina Garten, a.k.a. the Barefoot Contessa, dishes before Straz Center show


    To many of us she is just Ina. We know she dotes on her husband, Jeffrey, as if she's a newlywed. (She's not.) We know she loves Paris, Thanksgiving, farmers markets and entertaining. We've seen her kitchen in the Hamptons (gorgeous) and what her garden looks like in summer (scary gorgeous).

    She is Ina Rosenberg Garten, a.k.a. the Barefoot Contessa. With no formal training, she is at the top of the food celebrity heap, with bestselling cookbooks, successful Food Network shows and a whole lot of famous friends. On Nov. 2, Garten, 68, comes to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts to discuss her life, her cooking and her newest book, Cooking for Jeffrey: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, which releases Oct. 25. In advance of her visit, we caught up with her by phone to talk about her past, her present and exactly why her recipes are so darn good....

    Fun fact: Ina Garten was a nuclear energy budget analyst for the White House. Another fun fact: The 68-year-old has been married to her husband, Jeffrey, since 1968.
  6. Stone crab season opens today; last year's haul will be tough to beat

    Food & Dining

    Every October, crustacean researchers, commercial anglers, Florida fish houses and seafood enthusiasts start reading the tea leaves.

    We want a little rough weather, but not too much. Red Tide is not a deal breaker, but too many octopuses can really mess things up. The object of this prognostication is to anticipate the year's stone crab season, which opens today.

    Sometimes, experts get it wrong....

    Stone crab claws on the sorting table at Pelican Point Seafood on opening day of stone crab season. Crabbers bring in their haul to Pelican Point Seafood in Tarpon Springs where the claws are weighed, cooked, cooled and sorted before being sold at their market or distributed to area restaurants. Two boats came in with a total of 223 pounds of claws. "It's really not a great opening day," said the seafood house's manager Steve Reis.
  7. Pearl in the Grove and Rebecca's in Dade City to close permanently; Local Public House & Provisions reopening

    Food & Dining

    The Tampa Bay Times reported Monday that Pearl in the Grove in Dade City, Rebecca's at City Market in Dade City and Local Public House & Provisions in San Antonio had temporarily closed. Today, owners Curtis and Rebecca Beebe announced that Pearl in the Grove and Rebecca's would close permanently, whereas Local will reopen Friday for business....

      [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  8. Dining Planner: 5 new restaurants and bars joining the Tampa Bay scene

    Food & Dining


    Tampa Bay has seen a raft of new restaurants and bars since the start of 2016, and this month the launch pace continues unabated. Some of these newcomers are idiosyncratic mashups (craft beer and cold-brew coffee), others a blast from the past (old-timey pharmacy cafe). Here's a sampler:

    Mastry's Brewing Co.

    just held its grand opening at 7701 Blind Pass Road in St. Pete Beach. The Mastry family has a rich history in St. Petersburg, with this new venture from fourth-generation Mastry family member Matthew Dahm and the first craft brewery and tasting room on St. Pete Beach. Taking traditional styles and combining influences from exotic locales, Mastry's Brewing is elevating the beach beer experience with selections like Jenna's Morning Coffee, a chocolate coffee porter, and their popular Hefeweizen. With a relaxing setting like that of a coffeehouse, Mastry's also uses its space in the morning by serving cold-brew coffee on nitro through an onsite coffee roaster run by Evil Twin Coffee Co. ...

    The Mastry family has a rich history in St. Petersburg, this new venture from fourth-generation Mastry family member Matthew Dahm and the first craft brewery and tasting room on St. Pete Beach.
  9. Tampa is No. 4 on WalletHub's 2016 Best and Worst Foodie Cities list — here's why

    Food & Dining

    In advance of World Food Day on Sunday, personal finance website WalletHub has unveiled its survey of 2016's Best and Worst Foodie Cities. In short, Florida dominated, nabbing three out of the top 10. Orlando weighed it at No. 1, and Miami came in third, with Tampa nipping at its heels in fourth place.

    Tampa beat out next-best San Francisco, a city nearly synonymous with fancy restaurants and celebrity chefs. And Tampa won for the city proper, with no assist from booming St. Petersburg or environs. So what gives? How did we win?...

    Edison: food + drink lab in Tampa.
  10. Dade City restaurant Pearl in the Grove, plus Local Public House & Provisions and Rebecca's at City Market, temporarily close

    Food & Dining

    Pearl in the Grove, the award-winning farm-to-table restaurant in Dade City, closed on Oct. 1 for what co-owner Curtis Beebe hopes is just a few-week hiatus, along with his other restaurants, Local Public House & Provisions in San Antonio and Rebecca's at City Market in Dade City, a more recent acquisition. According to Beebe, the objective is to "rebuild the kitchen team from the ground up," as well as to do some maintenance and make improvements in the dining room at Pearl, which he opened with wife Rebecca in 2010. Beebe said Pearl in the Grove continues to be a healthy part of the business but that staffing changes have prompted the temporary closures. At this time, the Seven Courses of Kevin Bacon dinner (Kevin Bacon was the name of the restaurant's pig) scheduled for Oct. 20 at Pearl will continue as scheduled....

    Pearl in the Grove in Dade City is well known for its local, sustainable menu. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  11. Can food be considered art? Tampa Bay Times art and food critics weigh in


    The art critic and the food critic, separated by a low cubicle wall, began a conversation weeks before the Dalí Museum's "Ferran Adria: The Invention of Food" exhibition debuted. Considered perhaps the greatest living chef, Adria was at the helm of the Spanish avant-garde restaurant elBulli until it closed in 2011. He transmogrified food, introduced new technology to cooking and boldly and spectacularly defied diners' expectations. Neither critic ever had the good fortune to eat at elBulli (hey, journalists' salaries), but Adria's work, as well as the work of his proteges and acolytes, prompted each critic to ponder one main question: Can food be art?...

    Images of food also are part of the exhibition.
  12. Restaurant review: Ceviche in Tampa reimagines its menu and concept, with mixed results

    Food & Dining


    Matthew Rainey's first order of business as the corporate chef for Caledon Concepts was to reinvent the bay area's three Ceviche restaurants — new menu, new plates and cutlery, new presentations. A fresh look. The chef, who was hired on as the executive chef of Rococo Steak in St. Petersburg last year, has an ambition and competence that quickly propelled him to become the corporate chef for Caledon, the parent company that also owns Ceviche. He rolled out his new vision in the Tampa Ceviche location at the beginning of September, with the Orlando and St. Petersburg locations to follow....

    The new vision of Ceviche was rolled out at the Tampa location in September. Next up: the Orlando and St. Petersburg locations.
  13. Here's how Tampa Bay chefs dealt with feeding one of the world's greatest, Ferran Adria

    Food & Dining


    The goal of these dinners, explained Mina Group corporate chef David Varley, isn't to crack open a Ferran Adria cookbook and get busy.

    "That would be like busting out an easel and rocking a Dalí."

    On Oct. 4, Varley spoke to the assembled guests at the first Immersion Dinner at the Dalí Museum, a group of epicurean experiences running in conjunction with the new exhibit "Ferran Adria: The Invention of Food." From Tyson Grant of Parkshore Grill to Greg Baker of the Refinery and Fodder & Shine, Tampa Bay's most celebrated chefs are concocting dinners in honor of Adria, whom many have called the Salvador Dalí of the kitchen. ...

    Locale Market’s “Dal? Museum Takeover” of FarmTable Kitchen in St. Petersburg included the making of paella, and lots of it, in the courtyard.
  14. Dining Planner: Where to get German food for Oktoberfest; Dalí immersion dinners

    Food & Dining


    Oktoberfest, when the kegs are tapped and they roll out the best of the wurst, often gets me wistful about schnitzel, sauerbraten and sachertorte.

    Really, there aren't that many places in Tampa Bay to scratch the sauerbraten itch. But Beate Klobucar, who hails originally from Stuttgart, Germany, can hook you up at Cafe Vienna. Look around the forest green dining room, flanked at the front by a bar lined with personalized beer mugs and wine glasses, and it's clear: This place has devoted regulars. They find their mug, have it filled with a Spaten pilsner or Franzikaner weissbier, and then consider — am I in the mood for a bratwurst and sauerkraut, or maybe stroganoff over thick squiggles of spaetzle? 5625 Fourth St. N, St. Petersburg; (727) 527-6404....

    The bratwurst appetizer at Cafe Vienna includes toasted bread and sauerkraut.
  15. Restaurant review: The Roost brings Wisconsin, Michigan mainstay broasted chicken to St. Pete Beach

    Food & Dining


    L.A.M. Phelan began inventing things as a kid. He cut his teeth on carton-making machinery, oil burners and steam traps. As a young man he worked on projects for the American Car and Foundry Company, Monsanto and Goodyear, as well as on the Panama Canal project. He built the first automatic gasoline pump and started a company that manufactured X-ray tubes. • And then he trained his sights on something serious: chicken. Specifically, how to get it super crispy on the outside while maintaining moistness within....

    Bread pudding at the Roost in St. Pete Beach.