Ponte Modern American is now open, Sweetgreen debuts this month, and more Tampa Bay foodie news

And Fo’Cheezy Twisted Meltz hosts a charity dinner next weekend.

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click to enlarge Ponte Modern American is now open, Sweetgreen debuts this month, and more Tampa Bay foodie news
Ponte Modern American / Facebook
Openings

Ponte Modern American After a year and a half of anticipation, Chef Ponte's newest—and perhaps fanciest—concept to date has finally opened its doors. According to its social media, Ponte Modern American's first day open was Saturday, Nov. 26 and is now open and accepting reservations. The new restaurant resides at 1010 Gramercy Ln. amidst the ever-growing Midtown Tampa development, which houses dozens of other restaurants and businesses. Reservations can be made via Resy on pontetampa.com, and slots for the next few weeks are quickly being booked. Although a full menu has not yet been released, photos on the restaurant's social media depict an "elegant array of Modern American cuisine," featuring local seafood, prime cuts of steak, and high-end desserts. Chef Ponte himself states that his newly-opened restaurant is inspired by his very first concept, Clearwater's Cafe Ponte, which permanently closed during the height of 2020's COVID-19 pandemic. As a James Beard semi-finalist, Chris Ponte is no stranger to Tampa's fine dining scene. Ponte was the owner of sleek Italian restaurant Olivia (stylized "OLIVIA") and New American concept On Swann, and has made a name for himself as one of the Bay area's most popular chefs. 1010 Gramercy Ln., Tampa. pontetampa.com

Sweetgreen Tampa Bay's salad-lovers and fitness fanatics been waiting over a year its first Sweetgreen—and they only have a few weeks left. According to its Google page Tampa Heights’ Sweetgreen (stylized "sweetgreen"—adjacent to Armature Works at 301 W Palm Ave.—will grand open on Tuesday, Dec. 13. An employee from The Pearl apartments, which Sweetgreen is located on the ground floor of, confirmed next month’s opening date as well. The “Starbucks of salad” is known for its build-your-own bowls, loaded with healthy ingredients like roasted salmon brussels sprouts, quinoa, blackened chicken, sweet potatoes, sesame tofu, wild rice, arugula and much, much more. Sweetgreen’s menu is divided into warm and cold bowls, and will also offer Florida-specific options. When the Tampa Heights Sweetgreen was announced earlier this year, permit-obsessed Tampa Tomorrow stated that the restaurant would open out of a 2,711 square-foot space and include a large outdoor patio. 301 W Palm Ave., Tampa. sweetgreen.com

Coming Soon

The Glass Noodle Downtown St. Pete’s Doormét closed a mere few weeks ago, but we already know what’s replacing it. Earlier today, St. Pete Rising reported that The Glass Noodle—a new Asian concept from the owner of Central Avenue’s Mangosteen and fusion spot The Green Pagoda—will open out of the former Doormét space on St. Pete’s prime 600 block. This new restaurant will feature popular noodle dishes from different Asian cuisines, in addition to home-style Laotian entrees that you probably won’t see at many other restaurants. Different types of noodles will be made everyday in-house and make their way into popular dishes from countries like Singapore, Korea, Thailand, Cambodia and beyond. There are no social media pages for The Glass Noodle just yet, but its Central Avenue storefront is slated to debut by the end of the year. 681 Central Ave., St. Petersburg.

Lost & Found Joining the ranks of its other highly-themed, late-night concepts in downtown St. Pete is Hunger Thirst’s newest bar and cocktail lounge—the nostalgia-driven Lost & Found. St. Pete Rising says that Lost & Found will open at 2420 Central Ave.—out of the space that formerly housed bar and nightclub Somethin’ Different—sometime in December. Stephen Schrutt of Hunger Thirst Group tells SPR that his newest bar “will take you back to a simpler time,” featuring popular songs, decor, and vintage cocktails straight out of the '70s and '80s. Lost & Found will offer a variety of throwback cocktails—like the pornstar martini complete with passionfruit, vodka, vanilla and lime—alongside a selection of local craft brews and expected domestic beers. 2420 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. hungerthirstgroup.com

Events

Fo’Cheezy’s charity dinner
The only thing better than a great dinner is eating for a great cause. Chef Robert Hesse and his restaurant Fo'Cheezy's Twisted Meltz hosts a charity dinner on Thursday, Dec. 8 from 6 p.m.-9 p.m. at its downtown St. Pete location. This exclusive dinner will feature 6 different courses, wine pairings, live music, art demonstrations and a silent auction. Tickets cost $200 each, as all proceeds will be donated to No Kid 86’d, Hesse's recently-formed charity that helps local at-risk youth. Reservations can be made by calling 727-273-6226 and Paypal-ing $200 to @nokid86d. The spread for this charity dinner is far from Fo'Cheezy's casual sandwich menu, and includes upscale dishes like guajillo braised pork belly and plantain fritters, butternut squash tortenilli-duck confit and beef tournedos with bone marrow gremolata. The full menu can be viewed on the restaurant's Instagram. 111 3rd St. N., St. Petersburg. Focheezy.com

4th Annual VegFeast VegFeast is one of the best ways to sample all of the vegan treats that Tampa Bay has to offer—and it's finally back for another year. From sushi, cupcakes, hot dogs, artisan cheeses and more, next weekend's 4th annual VegFeast will feature a range of local plant-based businesses, vendors, and makers. Vegfeast happens from noon-4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 10. And while most of its vendors will be slinging vegan goodies, there will be a few non-food vendors like Tombolo Books, O’Berry Succulents, Creative Clay and Shelter Farm Sanctuary. Local businesses providing a variety of plant-based eats include House of Vegano, Nah Dogs, Gabby Bakes, Seasoned Green, 3 Dot Dash, Oh My Cod and Real Rootz Juice. The event is free to attend, but each vendor's wares will vary in price. 1900 1st Ave. S, St. Petersburg. @vegfeast_ on Instagram.
ICYMI

St. Pete’s Hawthorne Bottle Shoppe lands on Wine Enthusiast's 'Best Beer Shops in the U.S.' list
Adorned with a mural of a boozy sloth and tongue-in-cheek greetings on its letter board, Hawthorne Bottle Shoppe has earned its reputation as a St. Pete staple—and Wine Enthusiast magazine clearly agrees. Last week, the national publication deemed The Burg's Hawthorne Bottle Shop one of "The Best Beer Shops in the U.S., According to Pros." The woman-owned business is known for its exclusive spread of beer and wine, late night events and collaborations with local breweries, like Tampa's newly-opened Ology Brewing Co. 2927 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. Hbsforlife.com

Fat Boy's plans to bring the 'World’s Biggest Pizza Slices' to Tampa Bay New Orleans-based pizza chain Fat Boy's is making its way to the Bay, and the company claims to have the "World’s Biggest Pizza Slices." The pizza chain has locations in Louisiana and Mississippi, and now plans to open 10 restaurants across the Tampa Bay region in the next few years, according to a recent press release. Fat Boy's serves up its pizza in either a half slice, a 10 and 16-inch pie, or a "whopping 30-inch pie." The chain also boast wings, waffle fries, salads, meatballs, daiquiris and a full liquor bar. It's unclear how a 30-inch pizza equates to the "World’s Biggest Pizza Slices," when Dunedin's Madison Avenue Pizza is currently offering a 32-inch pie. But according to its website, Fat Boy's does offer a two-foot slice challenge, where it appears they custom cut a giant slice from a whole pizza, and guests attempt to consume it in under seven minutes for a chance to win $20 and a shirt. eatfatboyspizza.com

Tampa Bay Chocolate Festival returns next year Food trucks and people with sweet teeth will soon line the streets of Port Richey for the 10th annual Tampa Bay Chocolate Festival, coming back to the Bay area this February. Tampa Bay Chocolate Festival takes place Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023 from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. at Gulf View Square Mall, located at 9409 U.S Hwy-19. The outdoors event is free to attend and pet-friendly (although, you shouldn’t feed your dog chocolate). The free food truck event promises dozens of vendors all following a new special theme: “Sweet and Spicy” All vendors will serve their signature dishes plus chocolatey specialty items. And for the first time, they’ll add some heat to their menus as well. Also live from the fest will be the free Generation Championship Wrestling 2023 “The Love of Wrestling IV” showdown. Chocolate and chokeholds, hell yeah.—Chloe Greenberg

About The Authors

Kyla Fields

Kyla Fields is the Managing Editor of Creative Loafing Tampa Bay who started their journey at CL as summer 2019 intern. They are the proud owner of a charming, sausage-shaped, four-year-old rescue mutt named Piña.
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