Score sushi on Franklin, the Avenue's new menu & more

Munching through the latest in restaurant news.

click to enlarge Kova chef Chinda Manhnavong creates colorful sushi plates for hungry diners. - KOVA SUSHI VIA FACEBOOK
Kova Sushi via Facebook
Kova chef Chinda Manhnavong creates colorful sushi plates for hungry diners.


Proprietor Joshua Croy held a soft opening for downtown Tampa’s Kova Sushi at 912 N. Franklin St. on Wednesday, July 2.

The sushi and cocktail hangout’s interior is spacious, with high ceilings and an open dining area that makes for smooth transitioning from the bar to the tables that line its exposed brick walls.

Sushi master chef Chinda Manhnavong, formerly of Vue, crafts colorful offerings, and all of Kova’s sauces are made in-house. There are appetizers, soups, rolls, sushi combos that serve as entrees and more.

Happy hour, which boasts $1 off wine, beer and cocktails, runs from 4 until 7 p.m.

More tastes and twists

St. Petersburg’s the Avenue (330 First Ave. S.) premiered its updated menu to diners at the beginning of the month, and 10 new offerings add to owner Stephen Schrutt’s existing bill of eclectic burger stylings and comfort food.

Schrutt said he and Avenue chef Ryan Kelly worked on the new menu for several months.

A pulled pork sammie dressed in bacon, barbecue sauce, mac ‘n’ cheese and fried egg on Texas toast joined the other six sandwiches, while six more types of burgers — including the Huckleberry with blueberry jam, applewood bacon and brie — rounded off The Avenue’s long list.

New appetizers include thick-cut bacon with bourbon syrup and Guinness chocolate ganache; fried green beans with house-made buttermilk ranch; and boiled peanut hummus.

Diners may chow on the restaurant’s latest additions during lunch, dinner and late-night hours.


From the island to the field

On July 4, Calypso Rum Bar and Island Grill, which used to house The Garden, reopened as the Central Avenue Sports Bar at 217 Central Ave.

The change marked the first of a few coming to the Jannus Live block in downtown St. Petersburg. Matt Loyd, vice president of operations at Jannus, said the plans are pending approval from the city, but that city officials have been supportive.

Instead of serving up frozen drinks and Caribbean-influenced cuisine, the bar carries brews and good ol’ drinking eats, including wings, flatbreads, sliders and smothered fries.

According to Loyd, Calypso developed into the sports bar because there was a void downtown, noting that Ferg’s, a spot known for catering to sportsaholics, is “all the way by the Trop.”

The walls throughout the Central Avenue Sports Bar are decked in local teams’ colors and memorabilia. From the Bucs to the Rowdies, each of the bar’s rooms is themed by team. Pool tables can be found in the Rays chamber, and the Lightning cove showcases 9-foot TV screens, Loyd said.

Additional locales to come

The St. Pete Beach Shells restaurant at 6300 Gulf Blvd. closed in 2008, but a fresh version will open at 7081 Gulf Blvd.

Meanwhile, California Tacos To Go will bring its West Coast offerings to 808 S. Dale Mabry Highway in about two weeks. The taco joint’s second site is larger than its walk-up stand on Skipper Road that gained attention after a Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives appearance. 

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