Prepare yourselves: Mazzaro's Italian Market is opening a wine bar in downtown St. Petersburg. There's no name just yet, but there is a location — 300 Beach Drive, next door to Hooker Tea Company and Paciugo Gelato.
"This is completely different but we will be using the bread and a lot of items we source here [at Mazzaro's]," Mazzaro's owner Kurt Cuccaro told CL Tuesday. "We will have charcuteries, hard-to-find cheeses, and wines by the glass."
Small plates and "funky cheeses" will be on the limited menu, in addition to a regularly rotating selection of wines by the glass. "I've been talking about doing some type of restaurant thing for a while," says Cuccaro.
There's no name picked out yet, Cuccaro is still "working on a couple ideas." The model for the business is inspired by Spanish tapas bars.
"It's a hangout, people drinking wine by the glass, eating small plates of charcuterie," he says. "It has the atmosphere of a local tavern but with wine, fine wine."
The menu will rotate frequently to introduce customers to as many different flavors as possible.
"It will be Italian leaning but not limited by Italian," he says. "There might be Spanish tapas, or traditional italian stuff, maybe an Asian small plate in there. Whatever we think is cool and good."
Obscure meats and cheeses have always been available at the Italian market's grocer. Now those options will be available by the plate and in curated selections.
"You'll be able to sit down and eat things you'd only have access to in Manhattan or San Francisco," he says. "We have the opportunity to put things out there like Mangalitsa ham with a glass of wine."
A small craft beer selection (with local emphasis) with be available as well for any token "non-wine drinkers." But Cuccaro says it isn't a half and half ratio. "This will be a wine bar," he insists. The space already has the kitchen and plumbing structure in place. Will Mazzaro's mustache-inspired decor (dating back to long before the current craze) follow?
"I don't think so," says Cuccaro. "I'm saving the 'stache for Mazzaro's."
Tampa's Urban Innovations design firm is handling the complete interior re-do. There's about 50-60 seats expected inside, with 20-30 outside on the sidewalk. Cuccaro says that Mazzaro's retail wine business will allow them to feature more wines on the by the glass list than the average operation.
"There are so many great wines out there," he says. "I don't want to limit anything, hopefully people agree with my palate."
And judging by the success of Mazzaro's thus far, one can only assume that Cuccaro's palate ain't too shabby.
The no-name wine bar is set to open sometime in March. We'll have more info and an official opening date here on Potlikker as it becomes available.