NEWS: Recess Pizza grand opening set for June 22nd in Downtown Orlando

The culinary team behind Orlando Meats is having their grand opening for their latest concept, Recess Pizza, on Saturday, June 22nd, 2019.

The team took over the culinary kitchen at Orange County Brewers back in May just two blocks south of the Orange County Courthouse on the corner of Orange Avenue and Jefferson Street in Downtown Orlando.

Culinary Director Eliot Hillis and Head Chef Seth Parker have developed an alkaline dough for their pizza crust that is being paired with their high-quality cuts from Orlando Meats and cooked in a wood-fire oven.

Some pizzas menu options include:

  • Kya: pork belly, halloumi, chimichurri, crema
  • Tammi: pulled pork, slaw, cheddar, spicy white stuff
  • Beverly: spicy pork, broccolini, ricotta, mozzarella, pomodoro
  • Steph: ham and cheddar, blue cheese, garlic puree
  • & more

The menu will offer more than pizza with hot sandwiches and salads available. Brunch will be available on the menu and launch during the opening. Online ordering will be available on Slice and delivery on Uber Eats and Grubhub.

Limited-edition pizzas will be available for the opening as well as beer specials at the brewery. A raffle will be held at the opening with an array of local partners. The event will be held during regular business hours from 11:30AM to 11PM.

Find out more at recesspizza.com.

Recess Pizza. 131 N Orange Ave, Orlando, FL 32801. (321) 204-9616.

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NEWS: Tampa Bay Lightning Kickoff Party this Wednesday at Curtis Hixon Park

Come out this Wednesday, April 10th, 2019 for the Tampa Bay Lightning Stanley Cup Playoffs Kickoff Party at Curtis Hixon Park with the National Hockey League (NHL).

GRAMMY, award-winning band, Cage the Elephants, will be playing at the party. The first of a series of concerts and musical performances the NHL is planning for the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The concert will take place at 5:15PM EST and is a FREE, non-ticketed event. Fans can join the conversation by using the official hashtag #StanleyCup.

RSVP: https://www.facebook.com/events/2354151724604226/

Here is a schedule for the playoffs:

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Kicking off Tampa Bay Pizza Week at Paul’s Chicago Pizza

Today I joined the new Food and Drink Editor for Creative Loafing Tampa, Jenna Rimensyder, for lunch at Paul’s Chicago Pizza in St. Petersburg to kickoff Tampa Bay Pizza Week. Tampa Bay Pizza Week is now happening until March 31st, 2019. Pizza specials are happening at over 30 locations and there is also $3 Peroni’s around town.

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As a starter we ordered a Chicago Tamale, which I have never heard of in my life. It’s essentially cornmeal stuffed with meat. The presentation was a little weird since it was packaged in a plastic wrapped that seemed microwaved, but I had this feeling that we were embarking on some journey that we did not quite understand. I proceeded to add some hot sauce to this…probably breaking several condiment laws in the process.

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We ordered the Spicy Italian Pizza ($10) that includes sausage, pepperoni, and giardinara. The pizza is a Chicago-style thin crust pie. This style has been vastly overshadowed by deep-dish pizza in recent years, but the minute I took a bite of the pizza I realized I have had this before.

The flavors reminded me of an old chain in Tampa called Windy City Pizza that served this exact pizza. Memories of my step-dad, step-sister, and IBC Root Beer came to mind almost immediately. This wasn’t a fancy pizza, but it was satisfying.

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Personally, I did not find the pizza to be truly spicy at all (and I am somewhat weak), but actually just an enjoyable pizza. The portion was big enough for two people to share as a medium pie. I do recommend trying it.

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Paul’s Chicago Pizza was a good experience and I would go back to try the deep-dish in the future and maybe switch-up the ingredients for the thin-crust pizza. They also have a location in Clearwater on North McMullen Booth Road that I would like to checkout.

Service was great and the pizza came out in timely manner. Our waitress was a sweetheart and very attentive. She gave honest opinions about menu items which was appreciated.

If you need ideas for where to eat pizza in Tampa checkout my guide to Top 7 Local Pizza Spots in Tampa and also check out Tampa Bay Pizza Week at TampaBayPizzaWeek.com.

Restaurant Name: Paul’s Chicago Pizza

Address: 11002 4th Street North, St. Petersburg, FL 33716

Phone Number: (727) 346-5180

Website: http://www.paulschicagopizza.com

 

Social Hour at Council Oak Steaks & Seafood now available (Tampa)

Full disclosure: I was invited to Council Oak Steaks & Seafood for a media preview of their new Social Hour menu. I was offered a complimentary meal in exchange for my opinion about their menu. Opinions are my own and do not reflect Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino or any affiliates.

There are few restaurants in Tampa that offer Happy Hour deals on the weekends, but Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino has a few offerings for those of us looking both on weekdays and weekends.

Council Oak Steaks & Seafood has joined the list of places to put on your happy hour radar with their new Social Hour that is now offered daily from 4PM-6PM. I recently tried a wide-range of menu items with other local bloggers and Instagram users and many of the dishes were great.

The Social Hour dishes are not available during regular dining hours are thought of as a unique draw for the juggernaut of Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa.

My favorite is the Skuna Bay Salmon Tartare ($15). This dish has some excellent salmon paired with Citrus Crème Fraîche and has a really amazing flavor profile.

A close runner-up is the Fried Green Tomato Caprese Stack ($13) – which is a must-share dish. Truly excellent flavor profiles are found throughout and there is an obvious effort by the chef to make this menu different from your average happy hour re-hash menu.

If you’re craving some meat, I recommend the Grilled Beef Tenderloin Skewers ($17) which really show you the attention and care to detail the Council Oak Steaks & Seafood has to their meat. The blended herb chimichurri is breathtakingly unique.

As far as cocktails are concerned my favorite drink on the menu is their Cucumber Gimlet ($10) made with Effen Cucumber Vodka, Elderflower, Pear Nectar, Lemon Juice, and Sparkling Wine.

The drink prices are fairly affordable for a casino and the food is made to be shared, but if you’re really hungry you might need to order a few appetizers to be truly satisfied or maybe just head on over for a true steak dinner. 

Social Hour is held in the Council Oak Steaks & Seafood Lounge which is open Sunday to Thursday from 4PM to 11PM and Friday & Saturday from 4PM to 1AM. Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is located at 5223 Orient Road, Tampa, FL, 33610.

Check out the Social Hour menu here: http://www.seminolehardrocktampa.com/files/1634/Council-Oak-Social-Hour-Menu.pdf

Cheeses & Crust serves a delicious grilled cheese

This past weekend at the Indie Flea Market I tried Cheeses & Crust, a Lakeland-based vendor serving gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and it was an experience I must share.

I became very aware of the popularity of grilled cheese sandwiches last year when over 20,000 people showed up to the Ybor City Grilled Cheese Festival. My first encounter with a gourmet grilled was years ago in 2011 when I tried Mz. Cheezious in Miami.


What makes Cheeses & Crust special?

The employees at the stand told me they make their bread themselves which enhances the flavor and their bread samples convinced me to buy a sandwich. I ordered the Basic White Sandwich $8 which consists of “scratch-made white bread encrusted parmesan cheese and filled with American cheese”.

I was not ready for the amazing flavors that were going to take my mouth for a ride. The grilled cheese was savory and satisfying. Every last bite was perfection and the tomato soup they served with it was absolutely divine, I licked every last bit of it. I need more of this and I hope Cheeses & Crust appears in more places in Tampa.

The gentlemen at the stand told me they hope to open a food truck in the future and I hope they do. They had no shortage of customers during the event and one person ordered 10 grilled cheese sandwiches at once.

You MUST try Cheeses & Crust. I promise you will not be disappointed.

Visit them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/cheesesandcrust/

Cut restaurant wait time down with TorchFi interface

Tired of downloading apps for businesses you frequent to your smartphone? I cannot count how many different apps I have downloaded to my phone for businesses that I never open.

Local start-up company, TorchFi, aims to end the push for restaurants to make their own app and gives restaurants the ability to connect with their customer via a Wi-Fi connection.

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Customers can access restaurant menus through the TorchFi connection and order their food and pay online – avoiding getting caught in line during busy lunch or dinner rush times. They can simply walk into a restaurant and sit at a table and order their food when they connect to the available Wi-Fi. The wireless interface can also help customers call a waiter to help them.

On the business side, the restaurant will receive data about overall customer buying habits/trends and make life easier for their customers – repeat customers can easily order their regular orders with a smart interface that remembers past orders by a customer. All without forcing a customer to download their individual app.

TorchFi is currently targeting fast-casual businesses with busy lunch and dinner rushes. Tampa is a perfect target with plenty of concepts having their beginning here or expanding in the area including Burger 21, PDQ, 4Rivers Smokehouse, Mission BBQ…to name a few.

TorchFi is starting locally with The Attic and Moxie’s Cafe. Downtown Tampa, South Tampa, Brandon, and Carrollwood all have busy lunch rush crowds that could be alleviated using this interface. The interface can also be used for malls and food courts, retail brands, salons, and spas.

For more information, visit TorchFi online at http://www.torchfi.com/

St. Pete Beer & Bacon Fest – 1/21

Craft beer and bacon fans can rejoice on January 21st from 12PM-6PM at the St. Pete Beer & Bacon Fest in Vinoy Park.

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General Admission is available to guests ages 11 and older for $15 pre-sale and $20 on the day of the event and does not cover beer or food costs.

Beer Sampling Admission for ages 21+ is $35 in advance and $40 the day of the event and includes unlimited beer samples from 2PM-6PM, but does not include food.

Sonny’s BBQ VIP Admission for ages 21+ is $75 for pre-sale with limited tickets available and includes a variety of features including Sonny’s BBQ appetizers and unlimited beer sampling with limited small batch beers in VIP tent.

Buy tickets: http://stpetebeerandbacon.com/tickets.html

Children ages 10 and under are FREE.

This food and beer festival will showcase over 80 beers from local craft breweries and samplings of bacon dishes from local chefs and restaurants. Some things on the menus include bacon sirloin meatballs with smoked porter BBQ sauce, bacon beer cheese mac, house duck bacon, BBQ bacon waffle burgers, and more.

Live music will also play throughout the day.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Pet Pal Animal Shelter. The Pet Pal Animal Shelter is a non-profit organization helping stray animals get adopted and medical attention.

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Restaurant/Food Vendor Participants (prices will range from $2-$4):

  • Sonny’s BBQ
  • Nico’s Kitchen
  • Craving Donuts
  • Carmel Kitchen
  • Vanchetta Rolling Rotisserie
  • Jolly Porker
  • Sweet Life Cupcakes
  • The Twisted Iron
  • BCA BBQ
  • Taste Time To Love Us
  • I Wanna Wok
  • Prime 19
  • Healthy Heritage Grass Fed Beef
  • Jimmy’s Slider Truck

Menus: http://stpetebeerandbacon.com/food.html

Event Schedule: http://stpetebeerandbacon.com/schedule.html

Brewery list:

  • Big Top Brewing Co.
  • Big Storm Brewing Co.
  • Bold City Brewery
  • Coppertail Brewing Co.
  • Darwin Brewing Co.
  • De Bine Brewing Co.
  • Kona Brewing Co.
  • Florida Avenue Brewing Co.
  • Hidden Springs Ale Works
  • Motorworks Brewing Co.
  • Mad Beach Craft Brewing Co.
  • Magic Hat Brewing Co.
  • Pair O’ Dice Brewing Co.
  • Rapp Brewing Co.
  • Sea Dog Brewing Co.
  • Shipyard Brewing Co.
  • Southern Tier Brewing Co.
  • SweetWater Brewing Co.
  • Tampa Bay Brewing Co.
  • Silverking Brewing Co.
  • 3 Daughters Brewing Co.

Interested in volunteering? Check out this link: http://www.signupgenius.com/go/409054cadad2fa0fc1-stpete

Tampa needs more Korean BBQ

For as happy as I am about the Japanese ramen and izakaya food gods shining on us lately in Tampa, there is another food concept that I am not seeing enough of in Tampa: Korean BBQ.

Korean restaurants are sprinkled around Tampa with Sushi Ninja perhaps leading the pack with the biggest menu of authentic Korean dishes (we even have a delicious Korean food truck called Mmm Bap) – but concepts usually lack Korean BBQ grilling. The popularity of Japanese hibachi/teppanyaki steakhouses and all-you-can-eat concepts (see Koizi, Saki, Ginza) suggests that given the right promotion and effort – Korean BBQ could be huge for the Tampa Bay area.

Izziban Sushi in Orlando has made the concept thrive and now has two concepts in Orlando and one down south near Miami. Izziban offers Korean BBQ with the option of a la carte or buffet with as much meat as you want and the addition of classic sushi rolls and appetizers with prices ranging from $20 for lunch/late-night and $30 for dinner.

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Other restaurants in the Orlando area have caught on and are offering their own take on Korean BBQ with some sticking to just pork belly or samgyupsal and other more basic meat choices. The prices are comparable to what it costs for just one dish of Korean food here in Tampa and perhaps an appetizer.

Another case for more Korean BBQ in Tampa is the communal vibe that eating Korean BBQ has. This is representative of Korean culture where often co-workers, family members, or friends will enjoy a meal today and share their food. It makes food part of the bonding process in eating out and makes food more social. This could be big for corporate events, birthday parties, and family get-togethers.

Grills for Korean BBQ are smaller than those used in Japanese steakhouses and provide for more conversation –  you also are usually in charge of cooking your own food in these concepts.

I’m not sure if I even have a preference on how the concept should arrive here in Tampa. All I know is there is a serious lack of options for Korean BBQ in the Tampa Bay area and that it could be a popular concept if someone would invest in bringing it here.

Here is a quick look at Korean BBQ via Eater:

So who wants to be first and help turn Tampa Bay on to the K-BBQ craze?  I’m waiting.

Tampa Bay Blogger Shoutouts

Here’s what I’ve been reading about lately on local Tampa Bay blogs:

Tampa Bay Breakfasts reviews Mama’s Kitchen on North Florida and gives it a 5-pancake rating. As usual, there are plenty of pics of the food and the happy faces there.

Dena Loves Food visits Mama Fu in Clearwater and tries their Pad Thai and Red Thai Curry.

Tampa Bay Food Monster reviews Ally’s New York Pizzeria continuing his pizza reviews he has been featuring as of late.

Inkwatu visits Dairy Inn on MLK, his favorite choice for soft-serve ice cream.

Epicurean Perils of Sweet Polly visits The Laughing Cat in Ybor City and is pleasantly surprised with their food.

Re/Creating Tampa blogs about the Tampa Go Club.

Happy reading 🙂