Five Courses: Fresh chapter for The Queens Head & more

The Queens Head's new ownership, changes at The Bourgeois Pig and more in food and drink.

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click to enlarge CHEEKY CHIC: "I bought it because I like the place," says new Queens Head owner Tracy Asalita. - Chip Weiner
Chip Weiner
CHEEKY CHIC: "I bought it because I like the place," says new Queens Head owner Tracy Asalita.

St. Pete’s hip Euro bar and restaurant The Queens Head has changed ownership. Longtime proprietors Paul Smith and Darren Conner have turned over the Grand Central District restaurant at 2501 Central Ave. to Tracy Asalita, who told CL she doesn’t plan on making major changes to the locally loved spot, but that she may switch up or expand its menu in the future. 

With a culinary degree from The Art Institute of Tampa, it’s been Asalita’s goal to open a restaurant for the last five years. She was looking to launch “something in the area” before The Queens Head opportunity came along.

“It was kind of a no-brainer,” said Asalita, who’s no stranger to the restaurant — she shared a first date with business and life partner Jayme Frankel there.

Smith and Conner will help Asalita transition into her new role for the next two weeks, which includes the annual St. Pete Pride celebration.

click to enlarge The Bourgeois Pig added a patio bar and beer garden outside. - The Bourgeois Pig
The Bourgeois Pig
The Bourgeois Pig added a patio bar and beer garden outside.
• Since premiering to Seminole Heights in December at 7701 N. Nebraska Ave., The Bourgeois Pig has started to reshape its identity with a focus on the local arts scene, as well as more involvement from co-owners Lysa and Michael Bozel.

Michael now heads the kitchen as executive chef, and while the adult comfort food lineup was recently revamped, favorites such as beef stroganoff and red wine chicken remain. More affordable burgers and salads during lunch better suit the Bozels’ bohemian concept.

“We want [the community] to feel like this is their home away from home,” Lysa said.

The eatery’s upcoming art events, including June 24’s Cosplay Art Show, will highlight its newer outdoor bar and beer garden as well.

“We’re known more now as a venue,” she said, “not just a restaurant.”

click to enlarge Five Courses: Fresh chapter for The Queens Head & more - Angelina Bruno
Angelina Bruno
Five Courses: Fresh chapter for The Queens Head & more

• Japanese food lovers, rejoice! About a week ago, The Mango Tree opened at 445 Central Ave., offering a wide variety of Japanese fusion fare to downtown St. Pete. It’s in The King & I’s former home.

The restaurant’s bright, cheerful interior features a brick wall adorned with colorful art pieces alongside a contrasting birchwood forest mural. Flowered tea sets and small toys in shadow boxes are also incorporated into the decor.

Food items like sashimi, tuna tataki and tons of noodle dishes, shoyu ramen and zaru soba (cold soba noodles) among them, are cooked up for diners at tables, booths or the sushi bar. Along with red, white and plum wines, sake and international brews are served, and nondrinkers may try Ramune, a fun glass-bottled Japanese soda that opens after a marble at the top is pushed through its neck.

The Mango Tree’s other highlights include an extensive takeout menu and lunch specials under $10. —Angelina Bruno

• According to Vinoy Renaissance executive chef Mark Heimann, Fred’s Cellar, a new speakeasy located in the downstairs portion of the hotel at 501 Fifth Ave. NE, aims to open in the next couple months. The downtown St. Pete joint, set to serve drinks and shareable small plates, is named after Fred Guest, who helped restore and reopen The Vinoy in 1992.

Fred’s will eventually feature a secret passageway, and keeping pace with its roaring ’20s theme, patrons will need a password to enter. Two reds and two whites on tap will accompany the small wine selection, as local beer and affordable craft cocktails made with small-batch spirits are also showcased. Live entertainment will be hosted Friday and Saturday evenings, too.

• Tampa’s So Gourmet bakery, café and tapas bar hopes to open at 3301 S. Dale Mabry Highway before July 1; Kurdi’s Fresh Mediterranean Grill closed along North Ashley Drive downtown; and Fabrica Woodfired Pizza at 142 S. Meridian Ave. held its soft opening. Near the beginning of the month, Pinellas Park’s Pinellas Grill at 9721 66th St. N. premiered with down-home crowd-pleasers for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

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