Brian's Place: Fresh, locally sourced Spanish-Italian fusion that's worth the drive

The front of the house is run by Brian’s dad, Bob, who is personable and knowledgeable. He can be seen visiting each table, calling many patron’s by their first names. Bob knows a thing or two about wine and is quick with recommendations. We chose the homemade sangria and Manyana Tempranillo – a Spanish red. Both were excellent and paired well with our meals.

Our entrées consisted of the lime shrimp pasta crema, Brian’s crab enchilada, chorizo stuffed pork loin and the five-chile seared Cuban-style skirt steak. When the food was brought out, it was clear that there is someone in the kitchen who loves what they are doing.  The presentation is beautiful and makes you stop a moment and look at your food. The flavors are so fresh and vibrant – the recurring description at our table was “awesome” and “amazing.” This answers my second question of can I make it myself? No, at least not anywhere near this well. We all shared and sampled each others plate and couldn’t decide who had the best meal. By the time the plates were cleared from the table, we had wiped away any trace of food with the fresh Cuban bread, brought in daily from Mauricio Faedo's Bakery in Tampa.


This brings me to dessert which, by the way, are all homemade. Our first pick of flan was already sold out. We went with the guava cheesecake, vanilla cheesecake, and the chocolate cake, which were all amazing, but the bread pudding made from the Cuban bread was unbeatable.

I asked Brian is able to support local farmers and fishermen. He said he gets most of his produce from two pesticide-free farms in Hernando County. The majority of fish and seafood is caught locally and usually on the same day it’s served.

Brian’s Place is "upscale traditional" and is located among marinas and a couple of your typical bar food type beach restaurants. But you can tell by the line waiting at the door that there is nothing typical going on in this restaurants kitchen.

Reservations are strongly recommended.  They have been open for 7 years and only serve dinner on Thursday through Saturday, from 5 until 9 p.m. Breakfast and lunch are served Tuesday through Sunday fro 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. They are looking at expanding dinner hours in the future. With the menu prices for pasta and entrees ranging from $10 to $23, you have a great selection for your taste and budget. If this place were in Tampa, you would most likely be paying double for the caliber and quality of cuisine.

To answer the question, "Can I make more than one stop?" Yes, if you are going to drive to Hernando Beach, take the short trip to the newly renovated Bayport Park at the end of Cortez Blvd. You can walk down the fishing pier and be surrounded with “old Florida.” You are almost sure to see manatees and will love taking a moment to enjoy the beauty of a non-developed Florida coastline.

Brian's Place- 3306 Shoal Line Blvd., Hernando Beach/Spring Hill, FL 34607 . 352-597-5101

Please visit my website, to find other eco-friendly businesses and events in the Tampa area!

I try to be eco-conscious when I get in my car. Is there somewhere close to home that offers what I'm looking for? Am I able to make it myself and not have to buy it at all? Can I support a local business? Can I make more than one stop on a venture? These are the questions I ask myself in order for me to justify the majority of trips I make in my car.

So on Friday, when we decided to drive almost an hour north to Hernando Beach to take my sister and brother-in-law to Brian’s Place, I had to answer to each one of those questions.

First off, there is nowhere in Tampa that does what Brian Alvarez, head chef and owner of Brian’s Place, is doing. His menu is based on what he calls “the way cuisine”. It’s the way his family, a blend of Spanish and Italian, cooked when he was growing up in Land O’ Lakes. This Spanish-Italian fusion blend is like nothing else.

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