weather unavailableweather unavailable
Make us your home page

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. Dr. BBQ and Datz team up for a new restaurant in Tampa Bay

    Food & Dining

    TAMPA — Suzanne Perry, the indefatigable co-owner of Datz, Dough and Roux in Tampa, better start working harder on a sport or hobby. Skeet shooting? Curling? Her husband, Roger, is already an inductee in the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame. And new partner Ray Lampe has been inducted into the Barbecue Hall of Fame, celebrity chef Guy Fieri doing the honors, no less.

    Over chicken tenders and mac and cheese at J. Alexander's on Friday, the Perrys and Lampe, a.k.a. Dr. BBQ, unveiled something that diligent Instagram and Twitter followers may have suspected already: Together they will introduce the Tampa Bay area to what they are calling "artisanal barbecue."...

    Ray Lampe of St. Petersburg, who’s known as Dr. BBQ, says barbecue went from “niche” to being “huge everywhere.”
  2. Dining Planner: Where to eat around St. Pete Pride, dining out to help Orlando

    Food & Dining

    Dine Out: For Orlando

    To help victims and their families in the aftermath of the shooting in Orlando, Florida's hospitality industry lends its support by hosting a statewide event June 30. Led by the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association with Visit Florida, Dine Out for Orlando United will be a day for Florida restaurants and their guests to make a difference in the lives of those affected by the tragedy....

    Fried Chicken at Urban Comfort brewpub, housed inside a former auto detailing shop in the Grand Central District.
  3. Tips for making sourdough at home from local bread experts



    It's like a pet, the kind that doesn't snuggle and is mostly indifferent to your existence. Let's say along the lines of a goldfish or a really snotty cat. You have to feed it and clean up after it, and when you go on vacation you can't have just anyone watch it or it winds up dead. And when it dies, whoa, the smell.

    Like a goldfish, someone may hand it to you, well intentioned, in a sloshy zip-top bag. And then your life subtly changes. You're buying equipment, you're looking up care advice on the Web. In a way, you've joined a club....

    Each week, Gulf Coast Sourdough & Wild Yeast Breads owners Christina Cann and Brett Wiewiora bake sourdough bread, including the Sand Dollar Sourdough shown, for local farmers markets and specialty stores.
  4. Restaurant review: With food and decor, On Swann brings high level of excellence to Hyde Park Village

    Food & Dining


    So many amateurs get into the restaurant business. They think: I've been eating out my whole life. What is there to know? You make food, you serve food, you clean up afterward, right? And these people, by and large, fail.

    It's a joy to watch real professionals embark on a new venture, to see them select a location that makes sense and a concept that seems fresh and relevant, then build out and staff up with methodical, even maniacal, attention to detail....

    On Swann’s beef ribeye is blackened Cajun style with butter and served with smashed potatoes, mushrooms, bourbon onions and Texas onions. It can feed two to three people.
  5. Land O'Lakes resident named finalist in Trump International recipe contest


    On Internet food sites and magazine web pages, Lorraine Fina Stevenski of Land O'Lakes is always searching for recipe contests to enter. She's looking for the box that says, "Enter and win $$$ and travel." She may not have clinched millions of dollars in prizes, but she has had many recipes that have been finalists and winners, scoring trips all over the country.

    "I have entered hundreds of recipe contests and enjoy creating recipes with interesting ingredients," she said. "Baking and cooking are a tradition in my Italian family and has sparked my interest in designing recipes that are modern but classic. I keep all my recipes nice and neat in my computer recipe program, ready to send."...

    Lorraine Fina Stevenski is a recipe contest regular, having entered hundreds of contests. Her Ciambella Amaretto Citrus Coffee Cake was a strong contender, but didn’t get quite enough votes.
  6. Dining planner: Burgers, beer, barbecue and bourbon for Father's Day

    Food & Dining


    Yes, you can do the froufrou Father's Day stuff we've laid out here. Sure, he may be tickled by the novelty of a spa day. But while he's lying there with cucumber rounds on his eyes, Dad will be thinking of the Four B's: burgers, beer, barbecue and bourbon. (There may be other B’s that his kids shouldn't speculate about.) So after the exfoliation, give the man what he really wants....

    Specialties at 4 Rivers Smokehouse, which has two Tampa locations, include the Angus brisket.
  7. Restaurant review: Salty's Island Bar & Grille on Clearwater Beach shows signs of a classic beach spot

    Food & Dining


    It's a shorthand of sorts. When you see 32-ounce Naked Turtle rum runner buckets, you know you are in a beach bar. It may not be toes-in-the-sand beachy, but you can be assured that there will be a one-man band warbling through Son of a Son of a Sailor, that fried shrimp will feature prominently and that many patrons will have exercised insufficient caution in sunscreen reapplication (goal: every two hours). Maybe it's just the "bucket" part, but it gets you oriented quickly....

    Salty’s Island Bar & Grille in Clearwater is the newest beach restaurant. It’s across from the Opal Sands Resort.
  8. Tampa's 'foreign Cuban sandwich cor­re­spond­ents' report back on Seoul's Tampa Cuban

    Food & Dining

    The Tampa Sandwich Bar opened in Seoul, Korea in October. At the core of Geunmin Kang and Hyunmin Cho's menu, naturally, is a Tampa-style Cuban sandwich. While the couple aims to compete in the sixth annual Cuban Sandwich Festival in 2017, as of now they have not visited Tampa, much of their sandwich know-how gleaned from YouTube. Earlier this month, the Tampa Bay Times' volunteer "foreign Cuban sandwich correspondents" Scott and Heather Peisner assessed the restaurant's verisimilitude....

    A Cuban sandwich at the Tampa Sandwich Bar in Seoul, Korea. Photo courtesy Tampa Sandwich Bar.
  9. Revisiting Tarpon Springs' Greek salad history, and Louis Pappas' Famous Greek Salad recipe


    TARPON SPRINGS — "The time frame is all wrong," said Michael Houllis, 70, by phone from his mother Bertha's retirement center. "By 1917 it was a done deal."

    He was speaking of the many theories posited in the story I wrote for last week's Taste section that wondered how the potato salad got in the middle of the Tarpon Springs Greek salad. In his mind, this version is the Louis Pappas Greek salad, and it differs from a traditional Greek salad in more ways than that secret scoop at the bottom. ...

  10. Dining planner: Drinking fests from beer to cocktails and Savory Spices-Urban collab

    Food & Dining


    Hold onto your livers: it's going to be a wild ride this week. First off, the Museum of Fine Arts quenches thirsts 7 to 10 p.m. Friday with its Beer Project: Beer + Art Lounge. Local breweries take on the challenge to create unique, small-batch brews that connect with featured museum works such as The God of Death, Mictlantecuhtli and George Inness' Early Moonrise. The event benefits the museum's art conservation fund, and tickets are $55 advance, $65 at door. Guests must be 21 or older and the price includes beer, pilsner glass, brewers collector cards, wine, food and galleries. From 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, home brewers can show off their best brews at the museum; tickets for that are $30 at the door. 255 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg. (727) 896-2667....

    Detail of the installation for the exhibition Ferran Adria.
  11. Burger King's new Whopperito tortilla burger? Big whoop.

    Food & Dining

    This is not about bun calories. Nor about gluten dread. Nor even about portability and minimizing lap art.

    Burger King's debut of the Whopperito is about two things.

    Shock. And awe.

    And maybe a third thing: Boredom.

    They tested the waters with the Whopper Dog, its "flame-grilled" beef, melted cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, mayo, ketchup, pickles, and onions in an elongated form. (Reenactment of pitch meeting: "Imagine the Whopper, but it's … wait for it … not round.") And now Burger King is rolling its "have it your way" message — body-in-rug style — in a flour tortilla....

    The new Whopperito, being tested at Burger King in Pennsylvania. Photo via Twitter.
  12. From On Swann to Portillo's, 11 Tampa Bay restaurants opening this summer

    Food & Dining

    Just as the Florida growing season is winding down, a new crop of Tampa Bay restaurants has sprouted. Makes sense. Summer tends to be a little slow for our dining scene, so it yields an ideal time to throw open the doors and work out the kinks before fall's hubbub. From much anticipated high-profile restaurants in Tampa's Hyde Park Village to second outposts of successful independents to reinvented mom-and-pops, the dog days are a perfect time to engineer a dine-around....

    Bavaro’s Pizza Napoletana & Pastaria, at 945 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg, is one of the newer additions to downtown. Owner Dan Bavaro says his restaurant will have homemade pizzas, pasta and tiramisu. The glass mosaic-tiled pizza oven was built in Naples and can cook pizza in 90 seconds.
  13. Restaurant review: O Cocina & Flights a worthy addition to upscale Mexican scene

    Food & Dining


    Georg Hegel broke my brain in college. It was at least a serious philosophical sprain, but I did take away the idea of the zeitgeist, which comes in handy as a food critic. There's always a dominant set of ideals and beliefs in a particular moment of time, one that plays out, if you're observant, in how new restaurants look, what they serve, what the servers are wearing or the verbiage on the menu....

    Ahi Tuna Ceviche, with coconut, charred pineapple, serrano chiles, lime and mint, at O Cocina & Flights.
  14. How did potato salad get in the middle of Tarpon Springs' Greek salad? Opinions vary

    Food & Dining


    It's lurking there at the center, biding its time. You're happy-go-lucky, chatting with tablemates, eating a tomato, then a cucumber and a little flurry of feta cheese.

    Your fork hits something yielding. You peer down, scooting lettuce leaves and pepperoncini out of the way.

    Potato salad?

    "Waiter, there's potato salad at the heart of my Greek salad."

    That salad, in turn, is at the heart of Greek cuisine in Tarpon Springs, which in turn is the heart of Florida's Greek population. But this potato salad scoop is not normal. Head to Hydra or Skiathos, Greece: no potato salad. Greek restaurants in New England or Canada: no potato salad. ...

    The Greek salad at Costa’s in Tarpon Springs is built around a foundation of potato salad. It contains lettuce, onions, tomato, Greek pepperoncini, cucumber, radishes, beets, scallion, olives, feta and anchovies bathed in oil, vinegar and Greek seasonings.
  15. Dining planner: Skyway Soiree, Savor Sarasota and Beer Camp Across America

    Food & Dining


    Let's meet in the middle. Or in this case, let's meat (and seafood) in the middle. June 12 will debut the Skyway Soiree, a collaboration between chefs from Sarasota, Bradenton and St. Petersburg — held at sunset on the North Skyway Bridge. Organized by Turtle Beach Natural Foods and overseen by Sarasota chef Paul Mattison, below, the evening entails a six-course wine-pairing benefit dinner, with six chefs each preparing a course with a land-and-sea theme....

    Muse at the Ringling also is among the participants.