Tampa Bay restaurant news, food and deals: Bailey's, Maritana Grill, Bella's Italian

restaurant mealA roundup of restaurant openings, moves, additions, closures and deals at places around Tampa Bay. Eat up!
Looking for more regular information like this? I post local foodie news every Thursday on TampaPlanet.com.

Restaurant openings & news

  • Bailey’s in Hyde Park moved to Davis Island in the former Chez Bryce location. This popular southern, comfort food champion will be adding brunch and serve alcohol, but isn’t this the place where restaurants go to die? I worry about them but their menu still looks pretty “Kim Bailey-ish”. Their website.
  • New wine bar in South Tampa: Cru Cellars. I first wrote about them in August, right after Jennifer and Torrey Bingham bought the place (formerly Gianpiero’s). They recently celebrated their grand opening and are ready for business. Wines by the glass change weekly and they have a great cheese selection, including one I feel in love with recently: Beehive Buzzed. Check in on Foursquare and get a free glass of wine the first time you go.
  • In a strange addition to their plant nursery accoutrement, gardening supply store Pondscapes in South Tampa added cheese to their offerings. Owners Michael Jones and Carlos Kanamori have thrown imported and domestic cheese into the mix. Read more.
  • Acropolis Greek Taverna opened a St. Petersburg location, in the former spot of Bella Brava. That landlord didn’t waste any time.
  • The Don Cesar’s Maritana Grill got a facelift. Maritana Grill re-opened with a new menu from award-winning Chef Eric Neri. Review from St. Pete Times.
  • Buddy Brew Coffee, a locally-owned, hand-roasted coffee bar has opened on Kennedy Blvd. Hours are day-only. The Buddy Brew website.
  • New restaurant Bella Vita Ristorante & Market opened in Carrollwood/New Tampa. In the former spot of Circles Bistro enters a new Italian-inspired restaurant where “everything is homemade.” Article in the Tampa Tribune.
  • Fresh Market grocery store opened up in St. Petersburg at 2900 4th Street North. For those who haven’t visited one, it might only be a grocery store, but it’s so much more… it’s foodie heaven.
  • The Seltzer Steakhouse returns… sans Sam. Harold Seltzer is re-opening two of his granddad Sam’s affordable steakhouses that closed in May of 2010. St. Pete and Port Richey locations will reopen. More information.
  • Tampa Museum’s Sono Cafe launched weekend brunch. Dine at one of Tampa’s deliciously secret hideaways one weekend morning at a shaded table overlooking the river. Run by the award-winning Mise en Place folks. Sono Cafe Facebook page.
  • Kontiki Restaurant, with an Asian- and Latin-infused menu, opened in the Tahitian Inn on Dale Mabry in Tampa.
  • The Fox in Tampa reopened as a full-service restaurant and bar. After the former owner closed his reknowned (and infamous) bar in an office building on West Kennedy, a crafty aspirant snatched up the un-trademarked name (doh!) and is reopening as a restaurant and bar in the same spot with the same name. Open Monday through Saturday lunch and dinner. Rumor has it the wine and spirits will be good.  Their website
  • New speakeasy opens in St. Petersburg, The Mandarin Hide. The cocktail movement spreading across the U.S. arrives in St. Petersburg. Described as a “mixology lodge prescribing strong elixirs for life’s daily ailments.” The drinks are purported to cure… something. The Mandarin Hide website.
  • Burger 21, a grilled meat patty concept by Chef Chris Ponte from Cafe Ponte, opens this week in Westchase. Menu looks tempting.
  • Florida’s first raw milk cheese: Winter Park Dairy Bleu Sunshine. Florida produces some admirable products of late and it’s not just about seafood and citrus anymore. Read on.
  • Charthouse Restaurant in Tampa. This luxury seafood chain on Courtney Campbell Causeway replaced their other seafood concept, Landry’s, and shows no signs of the recession.

Restaurant closures

  • Tuscano Grill and Vincenzo’s in Clearwater closed. Both locations at McMullen Booth and Enterprise. Is it cursed?
  • Ballyhoo and Paddy Burke’s. Workers showed up at Ballyhoo in Tampa a while ago to find the doors to the popular seafood place padlocked. And Paddy Burke’s will close by the end of the year. 

Restaurant reviews:

  • Diner Sixty West in Clearwater. This posh diner impressed Brian Ries at Creative Loafing. Meatloaf, roast chicken and country fried steak stole hearts. Read the review.
  • Park Square Cellars in FishHawk Ranch. Tampa Bay’s planned bedroom community FishHawk Ranch isn’t particularly the poster child for independent restaurants. Which makes it mindblowing that a sophisticated, fine dining place like Park Square Cellars Bistro hasn’t opened before now. Read more.
  • Eats American Grill. St. Pete Times says: “It always feels like restaurants that have themes are trying to hide something. Like maybe if you are distracted enough by the decoration and immersed in the story line, you’ll pay less attention to what’s on the plate…But what if the theme was food?” Read on.

Restaurant deals and discounts

  • New Tampa Bay coupon service, Crowdsavings is offering great restaurant deals. Your purchases benefit our local economy and you’ll get half-off at restaurants like Pizzaiolo Bavaro, Ceviche and Red Mesa. Sign up to get their emails.
  • The Rack in Hyde Park and Brandon launched a screaming good deal on all you can eat/drink sushi, small plates and drafts for $20. We’ve seen this in bars for the alcohol but never includes food. Hope they can handle it. Monday – Thursday 7- 9 p.m.
  • Bella’s Italian Cafe is running a 2-for-1 special on gift certificates, Thursday 11/25 through Sunday, 11/28 in the restaurant and on their website. They also have 1/2 priced wines on Wednesdays.
  • Yard of Ale SoHo (formerly Cork) has 35 cent wings on Tuesdays plus 2 for 1 glasses of wine from 7 p.m. til close. The Yard of Ale website.
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