Tampa Bay's dining scene is in an exciting state of flux this holiday season. Here are a few things my fellow food lovers should be paying attention to this month.
Knife & Co. (912 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa). Head chef Gary Moran parted ways with the establishment only four days after the restaurant opened its doors in early November, reportedly due to irreconcilable differences with partner Ron Stewart. Moran and wife, Amy, who ran the front of the house at Knife & Co., are now planning to open a new restaurant in a soon to be disclosed space on South MacDill. It will reportedly be called Wimauma and focus on fresh Florida seafood.
Tampa's rock star chef Jeannie Pierola recently announced the fourth iteration of her very successful KitchenBar pop-up restaurant, which will run Tuesday through Saturday evenings from Dec. 8-30, interestingly enough, in Knife & Co.'s space. The restaurant's new executive chef, Allison Beasman, a Bern's/Sidebern's alum, worked at all of Pierola's previous pop-ups. This version of KitchenBar will retain a similar format to those incarnations, with à la carte offerings and a prix fixe menu.
Circles South Tampa shut it doors at 2500 W Azeele St. a few months ago, allowing the space to be quickly snatched up by the owners of the Ceviche chain. Their plan is to move Ceviche South Tampa there from its current spot at the south end of Howard Avenue. The restaurant's move, its second within the last few years, will place it closer to the bustling SoHo bar scene.
This month in Pinellas County, Tarpon Spring's first Food Truck Rally will take place on Sat., Dec. 10, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the middle of downtown Tarpon at 100 E. Tarpon Ave. At this block party of sorts, foodies can indulge in the made-to-order delights from over 15 food trucks and trailers, including Fire Monkey, Killer Samich and Taco Bus. In tandem with this event, Historic Tarpon Avenue will be featuring the wares of local artists, crafters, antique dealers, performing artists and art galleries.
Celebrate fine beers and raise money for a good cause at Hyde Park Village's Craft Beer Palooza on Sat., Dec. 10, from 1-5 p.m. The event will feature over 100 beers from upward of 25 craft breweries, in addition to educational sessions, food and beer pairings, live music and entertainment. Ticket price ($30 in advance, $40 at the door) includes a festival sampling cup, unlimited beer samplings, program and beer guide, and goodies from vendors. Proceeds to benefit Pints for Prostates and their efforts in raising awareness for prostate cancer. Purchase tickets at www.craftbrewpalooza.com.
On Dec. 17, St. Pete will be having a second Food Truck Rally, taking place at the First Unity Church (460 46th Ave. N). The events will feature music and entertainment in addition to at least 15 to 20 food trucks, some of which are brand new in the Bay area and will be making their debuts at the event.
Tasting Tampa will soon announce its first exclusive dinner party as part of a monthly series called The 13th Steps: A Support Group for Foodies. The dinners will feature different Bay area chefs (both up-and-coming and established) and will be limited to the first 20 people to email a reservation request once the event is announced on Tasting Tampa's Facebook page (www.facebook.com/tastingtampa). Meals will be multi-course with a focus on locally sourced and seasonal ingredients. Price will be approximately $50 (alcohol pairings included, for those over 21, of course).
Todd Sturtz is founder of the Tasting Tampa blog and a prime mover of food truck rallies.