The latest Ciccio Restaurant Group project will bring a Cuban- and ’70s-inspired restaurant with Mexican-American flair to Tampa’s SoHo district.
Luv Child is scheduled to hold its grand opening on Oct. 31 at 516 S Howard Ave., where Ciccio bar and restaurant the Lodge closed last year. Ciccio partner David Pullman said the new indoor-outdoor restaurant will serve lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, making plant-based offerings and a fun atmosphere a priority.
“We’re really going for simple, fresh, clean food and beverages,” Pullman said.
The menu pays homage to the favorite eats of longtime Ciccio executive chef and partner Luis Flores. Flores, who was born in Central America, joined the restaurant group in 1990 as a sous chef at its flagship Ciccio and Tony’s restaurant in New York City. He has played an integral role in developing everything from Ciccio Water to Forbici.
Look forward to plates and sides meant for sharing, like farro and black bean risotto and roasted pork chicharrones; salads; combination meals like Raiz (mashed yucca, tomato broth, black beans, maduros, spiced broccoli rabe); $3 tacos; and sandwiches like shredded aji verde chicken (Swiss cheese, fresh jalapeno, garlic ailoi) and Cubano (roasted pork, pickles, cucumber, salami, pimento cheese, stone-ground mustard).
Cocktails made with fresh-pressed juices, including a few on tap, are planned on the beverage end. Two signature frozen drinks and draft wine and sangria complete the boozy bill.
In addition to showcasing live music, Luv Child will use the large community table that divides the interior bar area from the dining room to regularly host family-style dinners. During each installment, Pullman said, the Luv Child chefs will dream up their own menu and come out to discuss the nosh.
Ciccio gutted the Lodge’s former building in preparation for Luv Child, about 5,500 square feet with 180 or so seats. A second full-liquor bar was added as part of the renovation, as was a coffee bar and a takeout area, which the restaurant will push.
And in true Ciccio fashion, the restaurant group has its next venture figured out — sort of. Pullman said he and the gang will start working on the old TC Choy’s space up the road at 301 S Howard Ave. after Luv Child settles in. The restaurant doesn’t have a name yet, and Ciccio is still throwing around ideas for the project, but they’re shooting for a debut in late 2020.