Park & Rec
Park & Rec toasted to its premiere in the former multilevel home of Tampa nightclub AJA with an Oct. 25 Halloween party. The brainchild of Stephen Schrutt, this lively social gaming bar’s second location is the newest addition to the Hunger + Thirst restaurant group, whose concepts include the flagship Park & Rec in downtown St. Petersburg and two other Sunshine City spots: the Avenue Eat + Drink and No Vacancy. Park & Rec joins the Channel District with four bars — three inside, one outdoors — and lawn games such as cornhole and giant beer pong. Retro arcade games and tons of flatscreen TVs provide the indoor entertainment. Before getting into the throwback fun, take your pick from the menu of munchies and cocktails. The signature Party Pouches, for example, are reminiscent of Capri Suns, except adultified with booze. The Tampa location for Park & Rec marks Hunger + Thirst’s first foray outside of St. Pete. 290 S Meridian Ave., Tampa. (813) 563-4777. youthhasnoage.com.
Bruno’s Bakery Cafe
Bruno’s Bakery Cafe has returned to Tampa Bay in a new location after many years. Owners Raymond and Bruno Gallace, the sons of late Bruno’s founder Bruno Gallace Sr., are keeping the family business alive with their niece and co-owner Briana Lapinski.
Lapinski said Gallace Sr., who also brought several restaurants to the area, opened the original Bruno’s bakery in St. Petersburg on 62nd Avenue, near Meadowlawn Middle School, in 1974. The operation closed in 2003 due to Gallace Sr.’s declining health.
“Bruno’s had a tremendously loyal following among the locals and businesses they provided products for alike,” Lapinski said.
Lapinski runs the front of house at the new Bruno’s in the Tyrone area of St. Pete, while her uncles prepare the rotating lineup of pastries, breads and other sweets on site. Alongside breakfast, they offer lunch items like sandwiches that incorporate the freshly made bread.
Guests can wash down the food with a cappuccino or latte. Catering is available, too. Bruno’s is part of the Lighthouse Crossings shopping center, between Scrubs N Stuff and Mario’s NY Pizza.
3993 Tyrone Blvd., Suite 304, St. Petersburg. (727) 347-7389.
Mata’s Philippine Cuisine
This longtime booth at PhilFest, Tampa’s annual celebration of Filipino culture, formally debuted its new restaurant on Oct. 25. Takeout forward with limited seats, Mata’s Philippine Cuisine featured dishes like lechon kawali, pork sisig, lumpia (a veg-friendly version included), pancit, chicken adobo and halo-halo on opening day. The restaurant received such a big response from patrons, according to a post on its Facebook page, that it temporarily closed on Oct. 29 and 30 to restock supplies and relaunched on Halloween. 4350 W Waters Ave., Suite 102, Tampa. (813) 405-8327.
Wild Beans Cafe
Wild Beans Cafe recently began pairing casual grub with espresso drinks both hot and cold in a cozy setting. Signatures on the beverage side include Greek coffee and the house freddo, a combination of iced espresso, French vanilla and sweet cream. As for the food, there are customizable sweet and savory crepes, baked goods (think spanakopita or bougatsa) and sandwiches for early risers and those who stop by well into the afternoon. Daily specials also await. A recent one was beef and salsa verde with rice and beans. 39620 U.S. 19 N, Tarpon Springs. (727) 940-3402.
After observing two years of business on Oct. 4, NuMex has quietly shuttered in St. Petersburg. A phone call to the Grand Central District restaurant prompts an automated message, “No routes found,” and a sign on its door reads, “Thank you for everything! We are permanently closed.” NuMex opened at 2710 Central Ave. in 2017. The restaurant was known for classic New Mexican fare with a twist, with an emphasis on Hatch green chiles.
Rome + Fig
This forthcoming Tampa restaurant has plans for North Hyde Park. According to its website, Rome + Fig, owned by Eric and Kristine Zostant, will specialize in locally sourced, globally inspired eats, offering a casual environment that’s a mix of rustic Napa Valley bistro and coastal Florida chic. Guests can peer into the open kitchen to watch executive chef Rob Scott execute the contemporary menu. The website lists dishes ranging from $8 to $40, including harissa-rubbed roast chicken, octopus fritters, filet mignon with truffle fried yucca, brisket poutine and pan-seared scallops with Israeli couscous. Rome + Fig’s projected opening is January. 301 N Rome Ave., Tampa. (813) 555-5555. romeandfigbistro.com.
Italy Bottega signage is up in the EDGE District of St. Petersburg where the clothing store McB’s used to be. The newcomer’s Facebook page bills it as an Italian market selling traditional food items, plus wine and beer. 1045 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. italybottega.com.