Restaurant News Roundup: Gratzzi, The Table, CineBistro, Primi Urban Cafe

Hyde Park's new CineBistro (1609 W. Swann Ave., Tampa, 813-514-8300 or movie theater/lounge/restaurant opened this week in the Hyde Park theater complex that used to house the Sunrise Cinemas. Don't think mugs of beer and plates of chicken finger and fries, because Cobb Cinema's CineBistro is luxe, with a food menu that covers lots of popular casual fine-dining tropes: steak frites, fish tacos, seared tuna and pasta bolognese, all well under $20. Cocktails are the usual suspects — and, since they're named after movies, there is a "Usual Suspects Appletini" — with a pedestrian wine list that hides a few gems. It's over-21 only, but expect those yammering kids to be replaced by clinking glasses and scraping forks as you watch a flick.

[image-1]Received final word on the fate of downtown St. Pete's The Table (535 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, 727-823-3700) from managing partner and — essentially — new owner Andrew Wilkins. The restaurant is still operating as The Table, and will not be transitioning into the fast casual concept Wilkins had briefly planned to open. "When I took over running The Table, it was in such a sorry state, it was going to close," says Wilkins. "I had some deals working, but now that I have my own restaurant I wanted to do what I wanted to do, which was a brasserie-style restaurant." It will be re-dubbed St. Pete Brasserie, once Wilkins' funding comes through in the next two weeks, featuring a classic French-Belgian menu. "Good draft beers, cassoulet, confit of duck, all the prices will be under 15," Wilkins explains. "You can't have a foofy restaurant in St. Pete right now." Building owners George and Linda Radetz will likely phase out their ownership, although Linda will likely still be marginally involved and the restaurant will hopefully source much of its meat — all organic — from a ranch that George owns in Brooksville, according to Wilkins.

Downtown St. Pete's Primi Urban Cafe (27 Fourth St. N., St. Petersburg, 727-895-4909 or — my 2009 pick for Best Restaurant You Might Forget About — has a new owner, although it sounds like little will change at this quaint little Italian restaurant. Former owners Arno and Irene Von Waltsleben sold the restaurant three weeks ago to Saverio Macaluso, a native of Rome, Italy. "There's not much to say," explains Macaluso, "because I will keep everything the same." Well, not quite. Arno's son George is still the chef, but Macaluso plans on bringing in a piano for live music on the weekends, starting a happy hour and installing a few flatscreen televisions to revitalize the bar area, expanding the Italian selections on the wine list, and will likely phase all the South African influence out of the restaurant's menu. No news as to what the Von Waltslebens will be up to next.

Gratzzi's not dead yet! CineBistro ups the ante on beer and fries theaters! The Table will not be The Spot, or will it? Primi changes owners, but not much else!

Read on for all the details!

Gratzzi closed up shop in Baywatch a few weeks back, right around the same time that Pacific Wave closed on the other side of Downtown St. Pete. For Pacific Wave, the closure was about revenue, and the economy, and being tired of struggling in an industry that's tough in the best of times. For Gratzzi, though, it was more about the fact that Baywalk is on life-support, with relatives eager to pull the plug and divide its meager posessions. Don't count Gratzzi out. The Italian restaurant is planning to re-open in the former home of Pacific Wave before the end of the year, if things go well. Owner Domenic D'Angelo will scale back his upscale menu to concentrate on homier dishes that cater to diners' reduced budgets, with the smaller space a better match for the more casual fare.

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