New places to eat around Tampa Bay

By Laura Reiley, Times Food Critic
Published December 12, 2007


- De Santo Latin American Bistro and Push Ultra Lounge will hold their grand opening Friday and Saturday, introducing a sophisticated array of Mexican, Spanish, Uruguayan and Peruvian dishes to downtown St. Petersburg. The restaurant, at 128 Third St. S in the McNulty Station building, takes up the first floor and will be overseen by chef Alfredo Villenueva of Monterrey, Mexico. The second-floor lounge follows a new trend toward quieter, more upscale nightlife venues, a major shift from the raucous "super clubs" of some years back. Push Ultra Lounge will feature bottle-service tables and nationally known DJs. A rooftop patio caps the project, with South Beach-style seating and sleek downtown views. For more information, call (727) 895-6400.

- Joseph Spagnolo opened the doors on Saimira European Grill at the beginning of November at 38501 U.S. 19 N in Palm Harbor. Named for Spagnolo's Albanian wife, Saimira showcases moderately priced Italian cuisine with fillips of Eastern European and French fare. An array of intriguingly named chicken and veal dinners are accompanied by soup or salad and a side of pasta, while under a section of "makarona" (Albanian for pasta), classic stuffed and baked pasta dishes beckon. Spagnolo comes most recently from ownership of the highly regarded Ristorante Roberto in Oconee County, Ga. To make a reservation at Saimira, call (727) 939-4700.

- Nearby in Palm Harbor, HD Sports Grill opened Nov. 30 at the site of the former Crabby Bill's, 33286 U.S. 19 N. Owned by David Patel, the newcomer is a family sports environment in which 33 high-definition plasma screens set the stage for game viewing and a moderately priced menu, heavy on the appetizers. For more information, call (727) 789-9383.

- The Pappas family launched a new concept on Nov. 26. George and his son, Nick, have opened Flamestone at 4009 Tampa Road in Oldsmar. The vision is an upscale-casual Midwestern steakhouse in a rustic setting dominated by a 32-foot open kitchen. Spit-roasted chicken, grilled cowboy and flatiron steaks, and thin-crusted flatbreads are showcased on a long menu overseen by chef Eric Lackey. For more information, call (813) 814-7778.

- In Tampa, at 4020 W Kennedy Blvd., a newcomer introduces Colombian crepes to the area. Maria Ruiz and Nestor Chacon have launched Sabor Sensations, a casual cafe open for breakfasts, lunches and dinners of salmon ahumado (a smoked salmon crepe with red onion and caper), chocolate derretido crepe and a refreshing fruit beverage called salpicon. The cafe features free WiFi and quick takeout. For more information, call (813) 286-2434.


The winning chili

Elements Global Cuisine in Gulfport was the first-place winner in the restaurant category of the Grand Central District's Third Annual Chili Cook Off held Nov. 24 on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg. A standout among 25 other entries - a concoction of coriander, cumin, cilantro, five meats, four beans and bell peppers - the winning chili will be featured throughout the winter as a special at the restaurant, 3121 Beach Blvd., Gulfport; (727) 343-9894.