This is what new restaurant Mole y Abuela has planned for downtown Tampa so far

Essentially, it's a culinary hybrid.

click to enlarge Mole y Abuela is a culinary hybrid with Spanish, Mediterranean and "a slice of Mexican" inspiration. - COURTESY OF MOLE Y ABUELA
Courtesy of Mole y Abuela
Mole y Abuela is a culinary hybrid with Spanish, Mediterranean and "a slice of Mexican" inspiration.

With 2019 right around the corner, there's a lot to look forward to. The new Lion King film and another royal baby, for instance. But also the downtown Tampa opening of Mole y Abuela, the next local venture from celebrity chef Fabio Viviani and Nocturnal Hospitality Group founders David Anderson and Lanfranco Pescante.

The trio's first restaurant collaboration to launch downtown, Osteria Bar + Kitchen, has been busy serving refined-meets-rustic Italian fare for the last two months. They'll work together once more to bring Mole y Abuela to the former Fly Bar & Restaurant space at 1202 N. Franklin St. Not far from Osteria or Anderson and Pescante's Franklin Manor, Mole y Abuela is scheduled to debut in February.

Anderson carved out some time to discuss their vision for the forthcoming eatery with CL just before dinner service at Osteria, which is still in the early stages of opening. According to him, Mole y Abuela will continue to foster downtown Tampa's nightlife scene as a culinary hybrid with Spanish, Mediterranean and "a slice of Mexican" inspiration.

"The community liked Fly Bar," Anderson said. "They will be excited about a fresh concept."

When the two-story home of Fly, which will thankfully live on in a nearby location, went up for sale in September, he and Pescante jumped on the opportunity with Viviani.

"Good buildings are hard to come by, and within two weeks we sealed the deal," Anderson continued.

Mole y Abuela remains in the design phase. However, Anderson is hopeful that, within the next few weeks, they can start remodeling the 4,755-square-foot space, where big plans are in store.

Viviani and the gang are set to change the downstairs dining room's layout to accommodate a new kind of culture — one that includes an after-dinner DJ on Fridays and Saturdays, similar to Osteria's vibe. Those tunes will echo upstairs to the rooftop through surround-sound speakers.

Anderson confirmed an estimated total of about 150 to 200 seats between the first-floor bar and the patio, Fly's previous sidewalk cafe. What's more, the Mole y Abuela decor will also be reminiscent of Osteria (translation: very Instagrammable).

Now, about the rooftop: In addition to the view, Mole y Abuela will deliver a Latin spirits bar, offering a wide variety of tequilas and other boozy signatures.

"Iconic Spanish and Latin cocktails, top-notch sangria and, of course, frozen drinks," said Anderson.

The trio hasn't determined whether or not the rooftop will feature a full or limited menu, but Viviani is workin' on it.

The Top Chef alum has flexed recipes from his Italian roots at Osteria, but the combination of Spanish, Mediterranean and Mexican flavors isn't out of his wheelhouse, either. As Anderson pointed out, Viviani — who's known for using locally sourced ingredients in dishes that're celebrated over generations — operates restaurants from California to New York, which range in both concept and cuisine.

"Yes, Fabio is the perfect brand ambassador for Osteria," Anderson said. "However, he has multiple concepts around the country and is linking up with fellow chefs for input, so we're excited to see what he comes up with."

Once Osteria gets into a groove, and the development of Mole y Abuela is further along, CL is prepared to sniff out more deetz. You'll find us avoiding romaine lettuce next year, but at least we've secured a new dining spot with rooftop cocktails.

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