Five Courses: Bay area-born food ventures expand (again) and more

Fitlife Foods and BurgerMonger have opened new branches locally, plus more in food and drink.

click to enlarge Fitlife Foods has debuted its newest prepared foods hub to Wesley Chapel. - Fitlife Foods via Facebook
Fitlife Foods via Facebook
Fitlife Foods has debuted its newest prepared foods hub to Wesley Chapel.

This week's print edition of Five Courses is headed your way tomorrow, but here's additional food and drink updates around the bay.

Known for its fresh, health-conscious take on prepared eats, Fitlife Foods has brought convenience to its latest location in Wesley Chapel. The store at 1821 Bruce B. Downs Blvd. marks the 11th store for Fitlife, started in South Tampa in 2011.

Like the others, the Wesley Chapel branch offers a varied lineup of ready-to-go snack packs, breakfasts and sweets in addition to its full-on meals for anytime -- a Korean beef bowl, spicy eggplant Parmesan and Jamaican pork tenderloin among them.

Another Tampa Bay-based food-ery, BurgerMonger, debuted at 1325 Fourth St. N. not too long ago. In the same plaza as St. Petersburg's new Pei Wei Asian Diner, BurgerMonger cooks up the same burger-driven, fast-casual menu locals have come to enjoy around town.

Choose from six-ounce-and-up burger, chicken or veggie patties -- as well as hot dogs -- with more than 40 build-your-own toppings, then add on fresh-cut fries and a malt or shake. There's a selection of beer and wine, too.

Pizza Box opened its doors to St. Pete's EDGE District not too long ago as well. At 923 Central Ave., the intimate pizzeria specializes in wood-fired pies and other beloved staples, including meatballs with whipped ricotta.

A large Le Panyol wood-burning oven churns out pizza creations like the seasonal veggie, classic and supreme; and many of them showcase both the house blend of Italian cheeses and San Marzano tomato sauce. This editor's also heard good things about the restaurant's signature dessert pie. Yes, we'll take one.

• Remember reading about BackDraughts? Tarpon Springs recently saw the launch of this pizza concept from Dillon Walts, who operates the Blazin 28 food truck.

His brick-and-mortar joint at 101 E. Tarpon Ave. serves a menu of wood-fired pizza with names like Truffle, White Hibiscus and Chicken Alfredo. Artisan salads are also part of the MIX, plus there's craft beer and red or white wine.

• Dunedin's Wheel Cafe is now showcasing straightforward breakfast and lunch at 1140 Main St. Diners nosh on everything — even gulten-free items — from omelets and burgers to sandwiches and waffles (Elvis waffle, anyone?). The quaint dining room adds to the cafe's feel-good appeal.

• In Clearwater Beach, Salty's Island Bar & Grille has premiered with chef-inspired tropical cuisine and craft cocktails.

The restaurant, located at 437 S. Gulfview Blvd., cooks up longtime favorites with a spin that include shrimp and jicama tacos, pulled chicken nachos, avocado egg rolls, Caribbean mahi mahi or lobster tail, and short rib ravioli. Its second-level patio gives patrons a view of the beach, while the bar on the first floor offers specials and live tunes daily.

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