Much as it is for theaters, galleries and arts festivals, the autumnal equinox means big changes for the region’s culinary scene.
Die-hard foodies have followed the evolution of six restaurant projects in particular for some time, passing by their construction sites by day and scrolling through their social media updates by night.
Though some are set to launch as early as next week and others don’t expect to be up and running for months, here are the buzzed-about eateries to look out for this fall.
Expected opening: Now
The wine bar by Mazzaro’s Kurt Cuccaro serves globally inspired small plates, as well as rare meats and cheeses for items like charcuterie. Justin Chamoun, who owned St. Pete Brasserie, joins the Annata team as general manager. 300 Beach Drive NE #128, St. Petersburg, 727-851-9582, annatawine.com.
Expected opening: Aug. 26
The Columbia Restaurant Group's latest endeavor will showcase a rooftop bar, the on-site Ulele Spring Brewery, a beer garden and locally made design elements. The restaurant’s menu, anchored by executive chef Eric Lackey, will be full of local origins, too, reflecting Tampa’s history and flavor with seasonal, state-sourced products. 1810 N. Highland Ave., Tampa, 813-999-4952, ulele.com.
Expected opening: Late August
Crafting items like crawfish étouffée, muffuletta, duck spring rolls and Bolognese, Roux’s lineup will pay homage to authentic Creole-Cajun eats, but also to Vietnamese and soul-food influences. Executive chef Richard Potts, formerly of Rococo Steak, will use many products, including spices and Leidenheimer Baking Company’s French bread, shipped from NOLA. 4205 S. MacDill Ave., Tampa, 813-443-5255, rouxtampa.com.
Expected opening: October
Owned by Michael Stewart, who runs 717 South, and Rays manager Joe Maddon, the restaurant will feature a wood-fired Acunto oven for Neapolitan pizzas, in-house-cured charcuterie offerings and an extensive wine list. Ava sits in the Post SoHo structure at the corner of West Swann and South Howard avenues, and chef Joshua Hernandez will head its kitchen. 718 S. Howard Ave., Tampa, 813-250-1661.
FODDER & SHINE
Expected opening: Late November
With dishes inspired by the state’s roots and people, Fodder & Shine — from Refinery duo Greg and Michelle Baker — will showcase “cracker cuisine” alongside bevvies like house-made sodas, craft brews and infused spirits. The traditional Florida ingredients chef Greg will incorporate include Gulf seafood and alligator, along with items preserved through canning and pickling. 5910 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, 813-237-2000, fodderandshine.com.
Expected opening: Late November
Celeb chefs Michael Mina and Don Pintabona will operate Locale Market and the Farmtable Kitchen restaurant at the Sundial complex. Farmtable, like Locale, will shape its offerings around fresh, seasonal ingredients. Neighboring the pair’s projects, a second Sea Salt restaurant from Fabrizio and Ingrid Aielli will open. (The twosome own the popular Naples-based Barbatella and Sea Salt.) Sundial will also feature Ruth’s Chris Steak House and another restaurant to be announced. 153 Second Ave. N., St. Petersburg, 727-851-9500, sundialstpete.com.