1. Food

Tampa Bay restaurant and bar openings: Rocca underway in Tampa Heights, Bavaro's expands to Sarasota

Coming to Tampa Heights, Rocca will offer ravioli del plin, which chef-partner Bryce Bonsack made daily during his time in Monforte d’Alba. [Meagan Klementowski/Nutmeg Imageworks]
Published May 20


Poke Island Plus

Asian street food is the focus of the menu at this bright, casual spot. Soft opened in late April, Poke Island Plus offers dishes such as create-your-own poke, bun, Vietnamese egg rolls, gyoza and pho, not to mention 20 kinds of boba smoothies, where Da Burger Joint used to be. The original Poke Island calls Pinellas Park home. 4058 Tampa Road, Suite 4, Oldsmar. (813) 818-7653.


Get your international fusion cuisine fix in a cozy setting. K-picu, which recently opened in the same plaza as Flying With Jerome, delivers a good-sized lineup of items that include tamarind skirt steak "tostachos," root vegetable fritters, Caribbean pigeon pea risotto, colada kebabs and sofrito-marinated roasted pork. Sangria and beer are available, too. 1443 S Belcher Road, Clearwater. (727) 601-4816.


On Friday, Bavaro's officially expanded with location No. 3 (No. 4 if you count the one at Tampa International Airport) in a historic two-story building off Main Street. The 150-seat restaurant delivers the lunch and dinner specialties that the downtown Tampa flagship first got you hooked on, among them traditional Neapolitan pies and pasta. Live music on the patio and private dining are additional highlights. 27 Fletcher Ave., Sarasota. (941) 552-9131.


Casey's Craft Bar Kitchen

This eclectic eatery with global influences at 17667 N Dale Mabry Highway has also shuttered. On May 14, Casey's Craft Bar Kitchen took to Facebook with the news: "... Our lease is up and as much as we want to stay open we can not operate a successful business with the new terms and conditions the landlord has deemed mandatory in order for us to remain open. Words can't express how much love and gratitude we have for our loyal customers. We are incredibly sad to go." The announcement goes on to say that the owners are looking for another location.



The fine-dining Tampa Heights Italian restaurant will pay homage to Italy's Rocca family, who showed executive chef and partner Bryce Bonsack some surreal hospitality during his seven-month stay in Monforte d'Alba. Bonsack, alongside chef de cuisine Nick Orr and general manager and sommelier Andrew Harris, wants to capture who the Roccas are, their lifestyle, on the ground floor of the Pearl apartment complex. From the pasta-forward Rocca menu, expect dishes classic to Piedmont and others that are more regional, plus riffs showcasing Florida ingredients. The restaurant with more than 100 seats aims to debut between mid-July and August. 323 W Palm Ave., Tampa.

Duckweed Urban Grocery

Westshore Marina District, near Gandy and West Shore boulevards, is getting its own 3,000-square-foot store from Tampa's one-stop neighborhood shop. Yep, a third location for Duckweed Urban Grocery will premiere early next year in the town center as part of the forthcoming waterfront community. The existing downtown and Channel District stores carry a generous mix of everyday essentials and local products, including craft beer and wine and ready-to-eat grub.


There's signage up for this new spot where Australian bakery and cafe Walkabout previously operated. B.A.M.! BBQ will be neighbors with SoHo district staples like Haven and Green Lemon across from the mixed-use Morrison development. 927 S Howard Ave., Tampa.

The Fat Rabbit Brewing Co.

Guess which welcoming bar is taking steps to become a brewpub? According to its website, the Fat Rabbit Pub is waiting for federal approval but has started ordering equipment for its on-site brewing facility, as well as kicked off the build-out process. Follow the progress on social media. 16029 Tampa Palms Blvd. W, Tampa. (813) 421-1850.

Little Midway

Delivering a mix of Harry Waugh Dessert Room specialties and reimagined creations, the latest addition to the Bern's Steak House clan will pick up where Chocolate Pi left off at the Epicurean Hotel. This Little Midway, an ice cream and pastry parlor led by pastry chef Heather Birr, is designed to celebrate Bern's founders Bern and Gert Laxer's Little Midway. Their midway-inspired sandwich cafe and ice cream shop first opened on Cass Street in 1954, closing in 1956. 1205 S Howard Ave., Tampa.


  1. Celebrity chef and restaurateur Fabio Viviani inside Osteria in downtown Tampa. OCTAVIO JONES  |  Tampa Bay Times (2018)
    The high-end spot is called La Pergola, and it’s set to launch next year.
  2. KFC's latest creation features donuts. KFC
    You can’t get these in Florida yet, but the new menu items are already popular on social media.
  3. Zongo IPA Tampa Bay Brewing Company
    The hazy New England-style IPA is on tap at the brewery’s tasting rooms in Ybor City and Westchase. | Craft beer of the week
  4. Neighbors with Cafe Ten-O-One, CellarMasters Wine Bar & Bottle Shop aims to debut before Thanksgiving. MEAGHAN HABUDA  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Appetizers and small plates are planned alongside wines by the glass and bottle.
  5. The fun, witty menu at Brandon's Strandhill Public features a six-minute egg wrapped in ground Irish pork. The whole thing is panko-fried, then served with pickled red peppers and spicy hollandaise. Courtesy of Rory Martin
    The modern bar and restaurant doesn’t feature any harps or shamrocks, but it does embrace present-day Ireland without losing sight of the past.
  6. Rick's on the River has called West Tampa home for 25 years. LUIS SANTANA  |  Tampa Bay Times (2009)
    Rick’s on the River celebrates 25 years in Tampa, Oktoberfest, wine tastings and Taste of Laura Street in Plant City.
  7. Patrons hit the dance floor at Tampa venue Skipper's Smokehouse in 2015. LUIS SANTANA  |  Tampa Bay Times (2015)
    A 12-hour party in the Skipperdome, stargazing and a family-friendly Williams Park festival provide free and cheap entertainment.
  8. A natural wine (Bianco di Ampeleia, 2017, from Italy) is poured at Cru Cellars in Tampa. MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE  |  Times
    From pét-nats to skin-contact whites, natural wines are popping up at restaurants, coffee shops and wine bars across the bay.
  9. Natural wines at Cru Cellars in Tampa. MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE  |  Times
    New to the growing trend? Start with these wines.
  10. Hoisin-glazed chicken meatballs. LORRAINE FINA STEVENSKI  |  Special to the Times
    They’re topped with a hoisin sauce, and can be baked or pan-fried.