Easy as Pie

Florida names a state pie; new restaurants in downtown St. Pete.

click to enlarge PRIME TIME: Arno and Irene Von Waltsleben moved to the U.S. to open Primi Urban Café. - Anne Arsenault
Anne Arsenault
PRIME TIME: Arno and Irene Von Waltsleben moved to the U.S. to open Primi Urban Café.

It's been announced elsewhere, but The Gravy is duty-bound to take note: The American Pie Council has announced that Florida is the second state in the nation to adopt an official state pie. Pending a signature from Gov. Jeb Bush, a bill was passed in the state legislature naming Key Lime Pie Florida's pie. The bill will take effect July 1, according to a press release.

The APC "is dedicated to preserving America's pie heritage and promoting America's love of pies," said the statement. Phew! I'm glad at least someone's lookin' out for our pie heritage.

Italian restaurant opens in St. Pete

South African transplants Irene and Arno Von Waltsleben have opened a new café in downtown St. Pete specializing in "alternative Italian cooking." Primi Urban Café, which opened May 2, has replaced the short-lived Big Daddy's BBQ that previously occupied the spot at 27 Fourth St. N.

The restaurant specializes in "alternative Italian cooking," said Irene. Her husband Arno is an Italian-trained chef, and he has created a large menu that includes breakfast, sandwiches, paninis, wraps, burgers, salads, antipasti, pasta and desserts.

This is the couple's first restaurant in the United States; they owned a restaurant in Pretoria, South Africa before moving to the U.S. in December.

Primi is open for from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 5 to 9 p.m. for breakfast, lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Call 727-895-4909.

SoHo spot to open in June

Alan Smolar is hoping that the third time is the charm for the restaurant spot located on the corner of S. Howard Avenue and Platt Street. The owner of the Strings N Rings Café, who opened his first location two and a half years ago at 8830 N. Himes Ave. in Carrollwood, is opening a second branch in the former site of the Tampania Grill and Jilly Jo's.

He has spent months remodeling the space, and plans to open on June 5. Smolar says that he has developed a good following in Carrollwood, and has always wanted to open up in South Tampa.

Strings N Rings Café serves sandwiches and salads, all accompanied with strings and rings (French fries and onion rings). They'll also be serving desserts, wine, beer and coffee.

Strings N Rings, at 223 S. Howard Ave., will be open for lunch and dinner six days a week and closed on Sundays. Hours are11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily and 5:30-9 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 5:30 p.m.-1 a.m. Thursday to Saturday. Call 813-254-7050 or go to www.stringsnrings.com.

New tavern in Old Northeast

St. Pete's Old Northeast neighborhood has a new hangout at 201 Seventh Ave. NE. The Old Northeast Tavern, a bar and restaurant, opened May 5. The former site of the once-popular restaurant Ambrosia, the location had been vacant for several years.

The restaurant serves appetizers, sandwiches, salads and pizzas, and features a full bar.

The Old Northeast Tavern is open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day. The kitchen closes nightly at 10 p.m. For information, call 727-821-8070.

Pappa's Corner holds grand opening

The new wine and beer retail store has been open since September, but the grand opening is on Wednesday, May 31, 6:30-8:30 p.m.. Pappa's Corner is owned by the Pappas family, previous owners of the Grillmarks restaurant in Clearwater.

The opening celebration will feature wine tastings of Robert Mondavi vineyard wines and appetizers. A suggested donation of $15 per person will benefit the Clearwater-based Abilities Foundation, a nonprofit organization providing services to people with disabilities.

Located in Serendipity Plaza, 28909 U.S. 19 N. in Clearwater, Pappa's Corner is open from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. every day. Call 727-784-7100 for information.

Know of restaurants opening or closing? Have news of new chefs, dishes or other culinary gossip? E-mail [email protected].