DOWNTOWN TAMPA — Fabio Viviani debuted Osteria, his upscale Italian restaurant across from Franklin Manor, just this past October.
Now the "fan favorite" from season five of the hit Bravo reality series Top Chef is on to his second downtown venture — Spanish cuisine.
Viviani held the grand opening of his new restaurant, Mole Y Abuela, on Feb 8, offering some of his traditional Spanish, Mediterranean and Mexican flare dishes reminiscent of "grandma's cooking."
Abuela, which is Spanish for grandmother, inspired both the name of the restaurant and the food.
"I grew up in the Mediterranean region, so besides being familiar with the Spanish cuisine, we literally have grandmas in the kitchen cooking that every day," Viviani said.
"We literally have four or five ladies between the age of 50 and 70 that work with us and do everything from our tortillas, the churros, the tres leches and a few other things that keep the concept very Spanish and South American original."
The "grandmas" prepare the food from scratch, serving popular Spanish tapas, carnitas, spot prawn crudo with escabeche, gambas al ajillo with toasted breadcrumbs, papas brava with rosemary salted potatoes and South American-inspired fried fish dishes served with the head and tail.
Viviani said the products, sauces and ingredients are mainly imported from Spain and Mexico, including many of their cheeses and their churro machine. But the remaining items are locally sourced from bay area fish and farmers markets, like Gulf Coast Seafood in St. Petersburg and Plant City's Mr. Greens Produce.
Viviani believes their authenticity will set his restaurant apart from other Spanish-inspired competitors in the area. He says he is shooting for a more casual, homey vibe — just like your grandma's house.
Mole Y Abuela plans to add brunch soon, but currently only serves dinner from 5 p.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday, and from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. Friday through Sunday. The restaurant is located at 1202 N Franklin St. and prices range from $6 to $35.
For more information visit moleyabuelatampa.com/ or call (813) 370-1000.
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