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Bulla Gastrobar serves classic Spanish dishes in South Tampa

Bulla Gastrobar will celebrate a grand opening in SoHo in mid-September. Photo courtesy of the Centurion Restaurant Group.
Published Aug. 30, 2017

SOUTH TAMPA — Carlos Centurion grew up in Spain, watching his dad flip pizzas, then hop on a little motorcycle to make the deliveries.

They promised deliveries in 30 minutes.

"It was the coolest thing in the world to see," Centurion said. "That was my first taste of the restaurant business and my father was very successful with it."

After graduating from college, Centurion was determined to pursue his childhood dream: move to Spain and work in the restaurant with his father.

But, the company went public.

"He said if you do like restaurants, I can help you," Centurion said. "That's how it all got started."

In mid Sept. he will celebrate the grand opening of his fifth Bulla Gastrobar location in the Morrison building located at 936 S Howard Ave.

Inside, the walls will be decorated with images of Tampa from the '40s and '50s and an elevator will take guests to an aspect none of the other locations have: a rooftop bar.

The original Bulla Gastrobar opened in Coral Gables in 2013, replacing the original concept Centurion and his father opened after graduation.

"It was called Por Fin. It was more of a fine dining, white tablecloth, fancy restaurant," Centurion said. "I was in my late 20s and that concept was more of what my father and his friends wanted."

Por Fin had two good years before the recession struck.

"During that time I gained knowledge," Centurion said. "I noticed which restaurants had a line out the door and were thriving during the recession. I wanted to focus on a Spanish inspired concept with a lively bar. Somewhere that was accessible to everyone, not just for special occasions. So, I proposed to my father that we shut down Por Fin."

One year later, Bulla Gastrobar opened.

Now, the restaurant is known for its paella, tuna tar tar (one of the only non-Spanish items) and the huevos bulla which is a variation on the classic Spanish dish.

"In Spain you don't eat eggs for breakfast. It's an afternoon and dinner dish," Centurion said. "The servers are trained to offer to mix up the huevos bulla for you. It's more than just breaking it up. You need to get a little yolk, egg white, truffle oil, crunch of the chip and potato foam in every bite."

Beer sangria and the Proper Gin and Tonic are staple cocktails.

"Gin and tonic is the most popular cocktail in Spain. The way they do it, the tonic is what takes the forefront so you need a good quality," Centurion said.

For more information, bullagastrobar.com.

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