Gourmet sprinkles: Sea Salt opens at Sundial early 2015

Wine tower and 80-foot-long raw bar to be highlights of Fabrizio and Ingrid Aielli's Sea Salt St. Pete.

click to enlarge Fabrizio Aielli cooking at Sea Salt No. 1, with a wall of jarred salts from locales like El Salvador and Bali behind him. - Sea Salt
Sea Salt
Fabrizio Aielli cooking at Sea Salt No. 1, with a wall of jarred salts from locales like El Salvador and Bali behind him.

The popular Naples-based Sea Salt eatery announced mid-January 2015 as the tentative opening date for its second location at downtown St. Pete's Sundial complex.

Sea Salt, owned by celebrated restaurateurs Fabrizio and Ingrid Aielli, will occupy a 12,000-square-foot space upstairs, according to a press release, alongside the retail and dining center's other food concepts.

With indoor and outdoor seating to accommodate 300, a 20-foot-tall wine tower and an 80-foot-long raw bar will be among the upscale seafood joint's highlights.

The wine tower, supposedly one of the tallest in North America, will hold 6,000 hand-curated bottles to complement chef Fabrizio's cooking, while the raw bar carries more than 20 kinds of the continent's best-loved oysters, including the Wellfleet, Caribou Island and local Gulf varieties.

Aielli's contemporary seafood-inflected dishes offer artisanal-meets-local ingredients.

Those unfamiliar with the Aiellis — who've operated three restaurants in Washington, D.C., and run another Naples hotspot called Barbatella — will get acquainted with Sea Salt's use of rare and imported salts (get the name now?) to enhance its food and cocktails.

Every year, the Venetian-born chef goes through more than 2,400 pounds of the stuff.

"We'd been strategizing an expansion of the Sea Salt brand for some time," Aielli said in the release, "And when the Sundial opportunity presented itself we knew all the elements had finally come together."

Just as it's done at the flagship Sea Salt, Aielli's salts will also be incorporated into the beginning of the meal, where eaters may sample a lineup of breads, salts and extra-virgin olive oils.

A lounge area and a private chef's dining room will be other features of the new restaurant.

In other shopping complex news, St. Petersburg's Tyrone Square Mall will welcome Le Macaron French Pastries, a gourmet sweets joint, early next year.

Located near guest services and Macy's, the shop will carry macarons stuffed with creams and jams, along with croissants, madeleines, chocolates, gelato, espresso and more.

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