Our weekly roundup of restaurant news for Sarasota and Manatee counties including Venice, Bradenton and Lakewood Ranch.
| Sarasota Herald-Tribune
We have a super-sized serving of local restaurant and bar news this week including a new pizza and wine bar coming to downtown Sarasota, a new bar now open in downtown Bradenton and not one, but two ice cream shop openings to report, among many other things. Let’s start with the upscale pizza place.
Lucile Pizza & Wine Bar opening in downtown Sarasota
Businessmen behind the vegetable-centric Lila restaurant in downtown Sarasota have announced plans to open a pizza place with a similar approach nearby on Main Street.
Ryan Boeve, co-owner of Lila, has partnered with Mark Baldwin of Baldwin Construction, the builder and designer of Lila, to create Lucile Pizza & Wine Bar, inspired by Boeve’s maternal grandmother. They plan to open the restaurant in mid November at 1660 Main Street, an 800-foot spot that formerly housed a hair salon.
The 25-seat restaurant will offer a menu focused on organic, local vegetables and sustainable, high-quality meats. Lucile will serve mostly plant-based pizzas, various sides of vegetables, a few pasta dishes, gluten-free options and desserts.
“I wanted to do something along the lines of Lila and make everything from scratch – the sauce, vegan sausage, pepperoni, cashew mozzarella – try to put good ingredients on the plate for people,” said Boeve, who described himself as “mostly vegan,” when reached by phone Friday. “Some good quality dairy mozzarella and actual beef sausage and pepperoni, too, but mostly focus on plant-based stuff and make it as healthy as pizza can be.”
There will be a local beer list and wines with bar guests enjoying a six-seat area to watch the pizzas being prepared. Guests will be able to choose from the build-your own options or order from the chef-created menu. Boeve said the pizza will be cooked in a Forno wood-fired gas oven and served individually by the pie, costing about $17 or $18 for a cheese and more like $21 for a wild mushroom pizza featuring chanterelle and morel mushrooms.
“We’re going to try to make it that adult pizza place,” Boeve said. “It will be that place where you can order a bottle of wine, a date night kind of place with your wife, instead of how other pizza places’ model is.”
Bamboozer opens in Bradenton
A new bar soon has opened its doors in downtown Bradenton, shortly after Gov. Ron DeSantis lifted state restrictions on Florida drinking establishments and other businesses.
The Bamboozer, located in the former space of Old Main Pub at 313 Old Main St., held its grand opening last week. Joey Bennett, who co-owns the bar with his wife, Jaimie, also owns Play Arcade & Bar on Old Main Street, Pour Decisions Saloon in Sarasota’s Gulf Gate neighborhood and Solorzano’s on University Parkway.
Bennett purchased the space in December and initially planned to open over the summer, until Florida enforced restrictions on on-site alcohol sales for bars. The Bamboozer sports an island theme, with frozen daiquiri machines, bright colors and décor including artwork from area muralist and chalk artist Matt McAllister.
“People coming to Florida always think we’re a giant cruise ship,” Bennett said. “On cruises, you’ve got daiquiris and the whole nine yards. So to me, that was one thing that was kind of missing from downtown.”
Along with various flavors of daiquiris made with sugarcane like pina colada, blue raspberry and mango, Bennett said there will be about eight beers on tap, including Kona Brewing Co.’s Longboard from Hawaii. There will be additional beer options in cans/bottles, along with wine. Food service will be available in the future via its own on-site food trailer, Bennett said, offering island fare such as pulled pork.
Both indoor and outdoor patio seating will be available, with around 100 seats in total. Despite the lifting of coronavirus restrictions, Bennett said the bar will not operate at 100% capacity immediately, and that staff will wear masks.
The Bamboozer will be open seven days a week, Bennett said, with “typical bar hours, noon-ish to 2:30 in the morning.” For more information, visit facebook.com/bamboozer941.
Blasé Bistro goes ‘Southern Style’
Blasé Southern Style is the new version of Blasé Bistro reopening today on Hillview Street with an emphasis on comfort food.
“We’re excited to bring casual Southern cuisine to Southside Village, with its familiar comfort food feel while offering the same excellent food and service as before,” said Kevin Skiest, co-owner of the restaurant along with Cynthia Breslin. “We want to leave behind the pain that COVID-19 brought us, our industry and many local residents and visitors with a fresh start.”
Chef Robby Clark, who also oversees the culinary team for Siesta Key sister restaurants Blasé Café & Martini Bar and 3.14 Pi Pizza, created the new menu, which is a reflection of customer requests. Clark, who previously worked at award-winning restaurants on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, also owned and operated the award-winning Sassafras restaurant in Virginia.
The new Blasé Southern Style menu offers starters such as bruleed goat cheese, black eyed pea hummus, baked oysters and crispy ribs while soups and salads range from roasted pumpkin bisque and clam chowder to spinach salad with fresh berries and goat cheese and a Southern Caesar salad with sun-dried tomatoes and cornbread croutons.
For entrees, diners may enjoy crab cakes with bay scallop succotash, dried cherry-stuffed pork loin, and buttermilk fried chicken with honey mustard drizzle. An array of handhelds will be available, too, including Black Angus and plant-based burgers, fried catfish, pulled duck and country fried steak.
For dessert, diners may choose chocolate butter cake, bourbon pecan pie, peach cobbler or pumpkin roll.
Located at 1920 Hillview St., Blasé Southern Style is open Tuesday through Saturday from 4 to 11 p.m. Happy hour is available from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday with $2 off starter plates, plus $7 select martinis, cocktails, champagnes and wines. The restaurant provides curbside pickup and takeout through online ordering at blasebistro.com or by phoning 941-312-6850. Delivery food orders are through Bite Squad. For more information, visit facebook.com/blasesouthern.
The Fat Donkey opens in downtown Sarasota
The Fat Donkey – a colorful, upbeat shop featuring an array of ice cream options plus fine desserts – has opened in downtown Sarasota. Proprietor Ed Martinez, along with his partners sister Dahiana and husband Richard Torres, have totally renovated a former art gallery into a happy parlor with vibrant colors, an eight-foot donkey, counter service and friendly benches seating 16 customers. Folks may also spot a donkey mascot representing the shop strolling the downtown area.
“If you’re on a diet, don’t come,” said Martinez, who also owns sister shops in Cocoa Beach and Indian Harbour Beach.
It’s all about sweet treats like the popular waffle ice cream sandwiches, gummy bear popsicle sticks and the Jack Smasher which consists of Key lime pie or New York cheesecake in a waffle cone topped with soft serve ice cream.
Customers may opt for ice cream with a wide array of toppings including Fruity Pebbles, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or Heath bar in choice of cone, dessert jars, various sorbets or specialty desserts such as a warm churro with ice cream or baked fruit selections, also with ice cream.
The Fat Donkey, at 1461 Main St., is open daily from 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. and may be reached by calling 941-260-9531 or online at thefatdonkey.com.
Pesto opens in Bradenton
Pesto, a bistro experience and wine bar, has opened in Bradenton offering inventive fare with Italian, Mediterranean and French influences. Joe and Lianne Rimer have renovated the former Alice’s Ristorante Italiano into a charming space for 45 guests with a stylish bar, main dining room and wine room that may be used for private events. In addition, there is outdoor seating beneath umbrellas.
Joe Rimer, a native of Bradenton, trained at the Culinary Institute of America in New York and has had chef duties at restaurants in Miami, St. Thomas and Tennessee as well as at The Meadows in Sarasota. He is blending fresh ingredients with creative and classic recipes at his new restaurant. The Rimers also own Ice Pro creative ice sculptures in Parrish.
Chef Rimer provides classic dishes like chicken marsala, fresh catch and veal scaloppini, plus creative starters like blue crab and garlic hummus and duck, prosciutto and avocado roll. Among signature entrees are an array of pastas, marinated duck breast and steak Florentina. For dessert, guests may indulge in dishes such as the coconut croissant bread pudding or chocolate ganache cheesecake.
The bistro offers a nice wine list, plus wines from Italy and Spain on tap as well as beer from local microbreweries.
Located at 8799 Cortez Road W., Pesto is open Tuesday through Thursday from 4:30-8:30 p.m. and until 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with happy hour from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Plans are to extend the hours and days in late fall. The restaurant may be reached at 941-201-4167, pestoflorida.com or facebook.com/pesto.florida.
American Honey Creamery opening brick-and-mortar site in Palmetto
Ali and Mindy Converse have always felt a kinship with small, rural towns – and with farming.
The sisters, who grew up in Preston, Connecticut – population 4,600 – watched their grandfather Andrew Davis run a dairy farm in nearby Sterling. This love of small towns and admiration for the work of farmers inspired a dream to one day find a way to support the dairy industry.
That dream culminated in American Honey Creamery, the ice cream shop founded by the sisters that has operated out of a food truck in Sarasota and Manatee counties for about a year and a half.
Now, Ali and Mindy, who followed their parents from Connecticut to Florida three years ago, are ready for the next step, which involves opening their own brick-and-mortar ice cream parlor off Moccasin Wallow Road in Palmetto.
American Honey Creamery will soon operate out of a 1,200-square-foot storefront at 4919 96th St. in Palmetto, next to Corporate Ladder Brewing Co.
Having a shop will allow the company to have some seating, more rotating ice cream flavors and a bigger staff, not to mention synergy with neighboring businesses.
The sisters who founded the company have always been close, Ali Converse said. They’re two years apart in age, and went to the same college, where their friend groups often overlapped. Mindy identifies as the organized one, with Ali flourishing on the creative side.
They chose the Moccasin Wallow area as the location for their store because of its rustic feel, Ali Converse said.
“We’ve seen how it’s growing, so we wanted to get in and get established before it really does take off,” she said. “We like the area because it’s a little more rural. We love small towns, because that’s where we’re from. It’s a little more quiet and country – it still has that feel.”
The company filed for its building permit this week and hopes to open by early next year, although that’s going to depend on the permitting process, she said.
American Honey Creamery is known for its homemade ice cream that’s currently made on the food truck. The truck has been known to make appearances in various Manatee County residential areas, including Parrish, Moccasin Wallow and Twin Rivers, and outside of the Home Depot on State Road 64. They also do weddings, birthday parties and other events, but things have been a lot more residential and delivery-based this year because of COVID-19.
Popular flavors include coffee Oreo and American Honey, which is a salted vanilla honey. The menu rotates seasonally – in the summertime they’ll sell brown sugar peach ice cream, for example – and other flavors include strawberry rhubarb pie and lemon blueberry muffin.
Having a brick-and-mortar creamery will allow for more flavors available for purchase. They’ll also have coffee, as well as baked goods from Der Dutchman in Sarasota.
As far as the truck’s future, Ali said they’re still deciding its fate, but will likely keep it for events.
“We will have a better idea once we’re open and see how the store is going,” she said.
For more information on American Honey Creamery, visit facebook.com/AmericanHoneyCreamery.
Glow Table Dinner event to take place at Grove
As event organizers increasingly look toward outdoor options during the pandemic, the founder of a long-running event that started in Sarasota plans to soon debut a new al fresco concept.
Glow Table Dinner is set to take place Nov. 6 in front of the restaurant Grove in Lakewood Ranch, featuring a three-course meal, cirque performers and LED glow tables. The event is a new concept from Rainer Scheer, who founded Chillounge Night, an outdoor party featuring lounge furniture that first took place on downtown Sarasota’s Palm Avenue in 2008 before expanding to other cities over the years.
In recent years, Scheer said he has been focused on his furniture rental business, with the most recent Chillounge Night event taking place in 2018. Yet he wanted to find a way to make events work amid the pandemic, and hopes to bring Glow Table Dinner to other Florida cities in the future.
“A couple of weeks ago, I came up with this whole concept of the Glow Table Dinner event because I wanted to find a way to bring back smaller-scaled, safe events, with all the COVID restrictions,” Scheer said.
Tickets can be purchased in groups by table size to accommodate four, six, eight or 10 people, with a limited amount of single tickets also available. The food will be provided by Grove with four entrée options, and cirque performances between courses.
There will be temperature checks upon admission, and anyone with a temperature of 100.5 degrees or higher will not be allowed access, and social distancing measures will be applied, with security officers on premises, according to the event’s website. Masks are welcome but will not be required.
Tickets cost $140 per person when purchased in groups, and $160 for individual tickets. To purchase, or for more information about the event, visit glowtabledinner.com.
Mattison’s awarded Seal of Commitment
All three Mattison’s restaurants have been awarded the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association’s Seal of Commitment, which the organization founded in 1946 described as their “highest designation for hospitality safety and sanitation standards.” FRLA noted that recipients of the Seal of Commitment have invested resources to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus and ensure “that the location, staff, and guests remain safe and healthy.” Mattison’s joins numerous other local restaurants on the list of Seal of Commitment recipients. The full list can be viewed at frla.org/sealofcommitment.
“Throughout the last few months our standard has always been to go above and beyond to ensure the safety of our guests and staff,” said Paul Mattison, executive chef and owner of Mattison’s Restaurants and Catering Company, in a statement. “We appreciate the effort by the FRLA to recognize us and other restaurants that have implemented and are maintaining proper protocols during these unprecedented times. The Seal of Approval will give our guests the confidence to dine with us knowing they will be safe.”
Mattison’s City Grille and Mattison’s Forty-One are in Sarasota with Mattison’s Riverwalk Grille in downtown Bradenton.
“FRLA is proud to designate Mattison’s City Grille, Mattison’s Riverwalk Grille and Mattison’s Forty-One with our Seal of Commitment for their commitment to sanitation excellence,” said Carol Dover, president and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, in a statement. ”Through this achievement, they are demonstrating their serious pledge to ensure the safety and health of their employees and guests, and we commend them.”
Mattison’s Riverwalk Grille closed on Sunday for kitchen repairs and will be reopening Friday. Mattison’s Forty-One, closed for renovations, is expected to reopen in late October.
For more information, visit mattisons.com.
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For the latest Sarasota-Manatee restaurant news – including updates regarding local bars, breweries, coffee shops and food trucks – visit heraldtribune.com/entertainment/dining. Please email restaurant news items to [email protected]