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These Tampa Bay restaurants took honors in the Golden Spoon Awards

Rimma Kolesnikova, owner of Ristorante Acqua Alta, 2454 N McMullen Booth Road, serves desserts to customers. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times
Published Dec. 5, 2017

Florida Trend's annual Golden Spoon awards were announced last week, honoring Florida's best restaurants.

Although Florida Trend serves the state's business community, the Golden Spoons are a valuable consumer tool. Because Florida restaurants seldom feature heavily in national evaluations such as Zagat, the James Beard Awards and the Michelin Guide, the Golden Spoon, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, provides a chance to assess Florida's dining scene as a whole and to compare one region with another.

This year, unsurprisingly, the Tampa Bay area had a robust showing, a reflection of the tremendous growth and increased sophistication of the area's restaurant scene.

In the "best new restaurants" category, Clearwater picked up Ristorante Acqua Alta, St. Petersburg gained the Reading Room and Tampa added the multi-vendor Hall on Franklin. By way of comparison, Orlando had only two notable newcomers and Sarasota had one.

In the "hall of fame" this year our area boasted a stable seven entries (Café Ponte in Clearwater, Bob Heilman's Beachcomber in Clearwater Beach, Marchand's in St. Petersburg, Maritana Grille in St. Pete Beach, and Bern's, the Columbia and Mise en Place all in Tampa), a list that leans heavily to the "fine dining" side. And in the regular Golden Spoon awards category, Tampa Bay scored big with 13 awards, ranging from Rusty's Bistro at the Sheraton Sand Key Resort in Clearwater to the hip Seminole Heights independent Rooster & the Till.

With dozens of restaurants poised to open on either side of Hillsborough Bay in the next two months, it will be interesting to see where the spoons fall in 2018.

Contact Laura Reiley at lreiley@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2293. Follow @lreiley.

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