Advertisement
  1. Food

Review: Pizzeria Gregario, a delicious plus for Safety Harbor dining

Greg Seymour at Pizzeria Gregario in Safety Harbor. It’s an unexpected and most welcome find. The pizzeria is a stickler about ingredients, sourcing most veggies and proteins from local farms. Seymour has a tremendous pedigree, having worked at fine dining restaurants in California’s Napa Valley and Rochester, N.Y. Family ties brought him to the Tampa Bay area, where he fell in love with the community of Safety Harbor. 
Published Apr. 21, 2014

SAFETY HARBOR

Something is definitely happening in downtown Safety Harbor. Longtime restaurants like Cello's and Green Springs Bistro have been joined recently by a robust crop of exciting independent restaurants: Parts of Paris, Southern Fresh, Nantucket Bucket and, about a year ago, Pizzeria Gregario. This last is anomalous in the area: A small, family-friendly pizzeria that is a stickler about sourcing local products.

The force behind it is Greg Seymour, 42, an itinerant chef who has spent time working fine dining at Chapel's in Rochester, N.Y., and California's Napa Valley, launching Tra Vigne's pizza joint next door to the fabled flagship restaurant in St. Helena. It was an uphill battle for Seymour in the tiny town. Making great pizza is really hard. Just a handful of ingredients and a heat source, but it's still hard.

Family exerted its magnetic pull and brought Seymour to Florida, where he looked around for a while for the right space. He said Safety Harbor "spoke to him," and it seemed underserved in the pizza arena (other towns should take note: Safety Harbor's new restaurants gracefully fill untapped niches).

It's dinner-only, five nights a week, Seymour's brother and sister, twins Corey Seymour and Cristin Hernandez, 41, helping out regularly. But mostly it's Greg Seymour manning the pretty, tiled wood-fired oven in the sunny yellow house. The dining room houses a couple rows of unclothed tables and simple cafe chairs. You order at the counter from the chalkboard menu, grab your drinks and a toy that identifies you (I had Ernie; no word on whether Bert was in the mix), and find a seat.

If you're paying attention, some things will jump out at you. There are only a couple wines, but they are from Parducci's sustainably grown grapes. You can have a local egg on your pizza from Dancing Goat farm in Hillsborough County or house-cured bacon. Sausage is housemade as well, made from the whole pig Seymour orders every few months from nearby Nature Delivered. And produce may be organic stuff from 3 Boys Farm in Ruskin or something Suncoast Food Alliance has rounded up from another local farm.

For a pizza restaurant this is a strange place to start, so bear with me. I had one of the most delicious desserts I've eaten in ages there one evening. Fresh Florida peach from King Farm, diced roughly with a sweet-sour agrodolce syrup, topped with a blob of crème anglaise and some crunched-up amaretti cookies ($9). As with so many memorable dishes, it was a perfect expression of ripe fruit, no need for distracting bells and whistles.

Salads, too, deserve high praise, from a simple Caesar ($8.50 for large) with anchovy oomph and a flurry of manchego cheese adding an unusual nutty counterpoint, to an evening's special of warm roasted beets ($8.50), their heat just wilting the arugula and greens in the salad bowl, or a lively, citrusy fattoush salad ($8.50 for large) with cucumber, onion, greens and lengths of chewy pita.

But you're here for the pies, right? They come in 9 inches and 13 inches, one large amply feeding two people. Roasted mushrooms get paired with fontina and dots of gremolata (parsley, lemon zest and garlic; $11 small, $14 large); the housemade sausage, flecked with fennel, perform a duet with pickled banana peppers, the combo with just a touch of heat ($11, $15).

The crust itself is thin, but not cracker-thin, with nice blisters and a tooth-resistance and tang that comes from a 160-year-old San Francisco sourdough starter Seymour has nurtured. Seymour, who favors the kind of sardonic banter one usually associates with fabled New York deli-counter guys, is a big presence in the dining room, serving as impresario over meals' pacing and details. Thus the name, I suppose: Greg-ario is bringing a welcome new show to Safety Harbor's increasingly rich downtown.

Laura Reiley can be reached at lreiley@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2293. Follow @lreiley on Twitter. She dines anonymously and unannounced; the Times pays all expenses.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. The French onion soup dumplings at Tropez. MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE  |  Times
    The approach at this restaurant/bar/lounge might be a little too eclectic. | Restaurant review
  2. Alison Krauss will perform at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday on Oct. 20. Capitol Records
    The Clearwater Jazz Holiday returns with a strong music lineup, Zac Brown Band plays Tampa and Barry Bostwick will be here to screen ‘Rocky Horror.'
  3. Festival goers move through the midway during the St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church's annual Ethnic Festival. This year's festival will be Oct. 17-20 at the church on Spring Hill Drive at Coronado Drive. Tampa Bay Times | 2010
    The 28th-annual Ethnic Festival returns to St. Joan of Arc.
  4. Left to Right: Hospitality panel members Viviana Leyva, Steve Westphal and Jeff Gigante talk about the needs of the hospitality industry in Tampa Bay region during a kickoff of the University of South Florida Hospitality Leadership Program last month. SCOTT KEELER  |   Times
    Restaurant and hotel owners say they have a need for finding and keeping talented workers.
  5. Vegan broccoli slaw with vegan burgers in the background for Memorial Day. SHADD, DIRK  |  Tampa Bay Times
    We have plenty of plant-based eateries to choose from.
  6. Milk and Honey Sprouted Wheat Bread. LORRAINE FINA STEVENSKI  |  Special to the Times
    Try to find a local honey for this easy bread.
  7. You can taste more than 100 beers during Brews by the Bay, now in its 11th year at Tampa's Florida Aquarium. Courtesy of Florida Aquarium
    Brews by the Bay samples 100-plus beers, wiener dogs lead Marker 48’s Oktoberfest, seasonal sweets at local restaurants and Mastry’s Brewing celebrates three years.
  8. Blue crabs are seasoned and steamed for ten minutes at the Key West Seafood Company, Gulfport,  Wednesday, October 2, 2019.  SCOTT KEELER  |   Times
    Not sure where to start? Go from market to table with guidance from local sellers.
  9. CJ Hnilica, manager of Key West Seafood Company, Gulfport, sorts through a box of fresh blue crabs, Wednesday, October 2, 2019. The crabs were steamed for customers.  SCOTT KEELER  |   Times
    Here’s what you need to know about Florida’s other crab.
  10. Aubi & Ramsa opened last month with an aesthetic that strives more for cocktail bar than ice cream parlor. (Divya Kumar | TIMES). DIVYA KUMAR  |  Divya Kumar | TIMES
    The menu offers 26 flavors, including White Chocolate Merlot and mezcal-infused Chocolate Azteca.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement