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Restaurant Reviews

  • Mushroom-Tomato-Pizza
    4th Street Pizza – The Quintessential Neighborhood Pizza Joint

    Located at 4th Street North and 32nd Ave North, 4th Street Pizza stands out as a reliable spot for a convenient and satisfying meal. Its unassuming exterior belies the delicious offerings that await inside, where convenience and flavor seamlessly come together. Operating on a takeout and delivery model only, 4th Street Pizza offers the flexibility […]

  • King State B.E.C
    King State Brews a Fusion of Coffee, Craft Beers and Culinary Creations

    King State is brewing their own beer and coffee, which has quickly earned them a loyal crowd here in downtown St. Petersburg. The menu? Delicious. The vibe? Unique at all hours. I visited three times and each experience was different. I’ll explain more on that later. King State is a great place to sip the […]

  • Pescado, Shrimp, and Carnitas Tacos
    Prima Cantina’s So-Cal Roots Bring Elevated Cal-Mex Flavors to the Beach

    People that know me personally, when they associate me with food they usually think of Asian cuisine, or pizza because I make a lot of it at home and post it on the socials. What many don’t know is that Mexican fare was my first love. In my early career when I was in sales, […]

Recipes

  • The Panko Crusted Pickled Deviled Eggs
    Panko Crusted Pickled Deviled Eggs Recipe

    My most recent restaurant review was centered around Sonata Restaurant at the Mahaffey Theater. For this month’s recipe, Kevin presented a brilliant idea of reverse engineering an item from Sonata’s menu. A few ideas were tossed around and ultimately, we landed on this one – Panko Crusted Pickled Deviled Eggs. We, of course, ordered these during our recent visit to Sonata and we absolutely loved this unique spin on a classic. Kevin informed me that the Panko Crusted Pickled Deviled Eggs from Sonata were carried over from The Mill by Chef Ted Dorsey who is now the executive chef at Sonata. These deviled eggs boast a tantalizing contrast with a crisp exterior giving way to soft, tangy center that delights the palate with each bite. The brightness of the avocado cream and the subtle kick of the spicy aioli serve as ideal complements to the eggs. I made some notes whilst first trying these at Sonata and when it came time to make my own rendition, I worked backwards and tried to keep each detail as close to the delicious original as possible. I started with the aioli and the avocado cream, which tasted like classic versions of themselves. The pickling of the eggs proved to be the most challenging, as there are at least a few ways to go about this. The concoction I used with red onions turned out spot on to how I had envisioned them. I have used beets in the past, but knew that a lot of people aren’t fond of them and the onions worked quite well in their place. Plan to make this recipe at least 24 hours before you plan to serve them, as the pickling process requires at least one full day. The ingredients required for this grown up version of deviled eggs are really quite simple – you’ll be able to pick them all up at Rollin’ Oats Natural Food Market. When picking out your eggs, opt for cage free and/or organic, like Vital Farms or Utophien. Rollin’ Oats even has organic breadcrumbs by Edward and Sons. As for the mayo, they also have organic options which makes me more than happy. I recommend Woodstock or Cadia. Recreating the plating of these eggs was so enjoyable as the presentation of them is quite gorgeous at the restaurant and I love the plating process. Serve these at your next dinner party, or perhaps for the upcoming Super Bowl – your guests will be more than impressed. Panko Crusted Pickled Deviled Eggs This recipe was inspired by the Panko Crusted Pickled Deviled Eggs on the menu at Sonata Restaurant in St. Petersburg, FL. They're a sophisticated and delicious spin on classic deviled eggs and are perfect for a party or gathering. Pickled Eggs6 eggs (or more/less depending on how many people you are serving – preferably cage free and organic)1 1/2 cups rice wine vinegar1/2 cup water6 garlic cloves (peeled and smashed)1/2 red onion (medium in size and sliced thin)1 1/2 tbsp sugar1 tbsp salt1 tsp black peppercornsAvocado Cream1/2 avocado (ripe and medium-large in size)1/2 lime (medium in size – about 2 tbsp)1/2 cup plain greek yogurt1/2 tsp salt (plus more to taste as needed)1/2 tsp olive oil1/4 tsp black pepper (cracked)Spicy Aioli1 cup mayonnaise3 garlic cloves1 tbsp lemon juice1 1/2 tsp cayenne (if you really like heat, add as much as you'd like.)1/2 tsp salt1/4 tsp black pepper (cracked)Panko Crusted Deviled Egg Assemblypickled eggsavocado creamspicy aioli1 cup panko breadcrumbs2 cups vegetable or canola oil (use any other frying oil of your choice)2 eggs (whisked together)1 cup all purpose flour3 tbsp mayonnaise1 tsp dijon mustard2 dashes hot sauce (like Diamond Crystal (optional))salt1/2 tsp paprikafresh dill (chopped, for garnish (optional)) Pickled EggsMake the pickled eggs at least 24 hours before you plan to serve them. Bring a large pot of water with enough water to cover eggs to a boil. Carefully add eggs to pot and boil for 10 minutes. Prepare an ice bath while the eggs boil. After the 10 minutes are up, add eggs to the bath to stop the cooking process. Leave for at least 10 minutes.In a medium pot, add all pickling ingredients with the exception of the eggs and onions. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat and add the onions. While pickling solution cools a bit, carefully peel the eggs, discard ice bath water and place peeled eggs into the bowl used for the bath. Carefully pour pickling mixture with the onions over the eggs in the bowl used for the ice bath and place in the fridge for at least 24 hours.Avocado CreamThe day that you're going to assemble your eggs, make the avocado cream. Add all ingredients to a high powered blender and blend until well combined. Mixture should be similar to a yogurt-like consistency. Add water, 1/4 tsp at a time, if mixture is too thick. Season with more salt as needed and refrigerate until ready to assembleSpicy AioliAfter the cream is complete, make the aioli. Add all ingredients to a high powered blender and blend until well combined. Season with salt as need. Optionally, you can add this mixture to a squeeze bottle or piping bag for plating purposes. Refrigerate until ready to assemble.Panko Crusted Deviled Egg Assembly24 hours later, remove eggs from pickling mixture – they should be slightly pink. You can optionally reserve onions and pickling mixture in a jar for another use. Cut Eggs in half and carefully scoop out the cooked yolks and add them to a bowl. Mash them and then mix in the mayo, dijon, hot sauce (if using) until smooth. Season with salt as needed.Add flour, whisked egg and panko to three separate bowls and have a plate ready. One at a time, coat eggs in flour, next egg (allowing excess to drip off) and then panko. Set on reserved plate.Heat oil in a medium pot over medium high heat. Line a separate plate with a paper towel. One at a time, fry […]

  • Dutch Baby with Strawberries & Coconut Whip
    Dutch Baby with Strawberries & Coconut Whip Recipe

    A Dutch Baby, also known as a German pancake or Dutch puff, is a delightful breakfast dish that elevates the boundaries of traditional pancake offerings. This oven-baked pancake is characterized by its unique puffiness and golden-brown edges which create a visually appealing presentation. The batter is made of simple ingredients like eggs, flour, milk and sugar which are all combined and poured into a piping hot buttered skillet. This mixture is then baked in the oven where it transforms into a fluffy and airy pancake with a custard-like interior. Typically, Dutch babies fall under the category of a sweeter breakfast option, as they’re often served with fresh fruits, syrups and dusted with powdered sugar. Though, they can also act as a savory option and are equally as delicious when topped with ingredients like bacon, avocado, scrambled eggs, smoked salmon and more. We’re taking the sweeter route this time with the addition of fresh strawberries, mint, maple syrup and an easy-to-make coconut whip which is made by whipping the solids of a can of coconut milk. Add some slabs of butter and a dusting of powdered sugar if you so desire – you won’t be disappointed. Feel free to make this recipe your own by using other fruits, like blueberries, raspberries and bananas. I chose strawberries, because they’re in season in Florida during the month of January and it’s quite simple at this time to find quality berries, especially organic varieties at Rollin’ Oats. I always encourage folks to buy organic when possible and Rollin’ Oats makes that easy with their high quality organic grocery options. Make sure that you get the can of full-fat coconut water into the fridge the night before you plan to make the Dutch baby. Since we are only using the cream part, fridge time ensures that the cream solidifies as it should in order to separate it from the water easier. Reserve the coconut water for another use. Dutch babies are prefect when you need a simple crowd pleaser that both looks and tastes impressive. Additionally, it’s great when you’re looking to feed a small crowd with minimal effort. Dutch Baby with Strawberries & Coconut Whip Recipe A Dutch baby is a mouthwatering twist on a traditional pancake. This luscious oven-baked pancake is adorned with fresh strawberries, coconut whip, fresh mint and maple syrup to ensure sweet & fluffy bites that are certain to please. High Speed Blenderovenproof skilletstand mixer Coconut Whip1 can unsweetened coconut milk (full fat & chilled in the refrigerator overnight)1 1/2 tbsp honey1 tsp vanilla extractDutch Baby & Assembly3 eggs3/4 cup whole milk2 tbsp unsalted butter (melted)1 tbsp unsalted butter1/2 cup flour2 tbsp cornstarch1 tsp sugar1 tsp vanilla extract1/2 tsp salt1 cup strawberries (washed & sliced)mint (fresh & torn)maple syruppowdered sugar (optional)butter (for topping, optional) Coconut WhipScrape the cream from the top of the chilled coconut milk (leave the water behind and save for another use) and add it to the bowl of a stand mixer. Add in vanilla extract and honey and mix on high until soft peaks form. Serve immediately or store in the refrigeratorDutch Baby & AssemblyPlace a medium oven-proof skillet (like cast iron) into the oven and heat the oven to 425F. Keep the skillet in there for at least 30 minutes until your batter is ready to be poured in. Prepare the batter by first adding 3 eggs to a blender. Blend the eggs on high for one minute – the eggs should now be a frothy consistency. Keep the motor running and slowly/gradually add in the milk, followed by the 2 tbsp of melted butter.Blend in flour, cornstarch, sugar, vanilla extract and salt just to combine (we don't want to over mix). Remove hot skillet from the oven and immediately add in remaining 1 tbsp of butter and swirl to coat the pan evenly. Carefully pour the batter into the skillet and bake the Dutch baby for 20-25 minutes, or until you see it begin to puff and slightly brown.The pancake will deflate a bit after you remove it from the oven and that's okay. Top with a few dollops of the coconut cream, fresh strawberries, maple syrup, butter and powdered sugar, if using. BreakfastAmerican, GermanDutch Baby Pancake Recipe, Dutch Baby Recipe

  • Mortadella & Beef Meatballs with a Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
    Mortadella & Beef Meatballs with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce Recipe

    Meatballs are almost like a universal love language. In fact, throughout my thirty something years on this planet, I cannot recall a single time when I encountered a human who shared their distaste for this food. A mashup of ground meat, cheese, eggs, herbs, garlic, breadcrumbs (and sometimes additional ingredients) formed into individual bite size spheres swimming in a bath of luscious sauce, typically red. They’re quite hard not to love. What sets these meatballs apart from most others is the addition of mortadella. Mortadella’s popularity has been growing for some time now and I don’t see that slowing down anytime soon. Mortadella originated in Italy and in essence, is an emulsified large format pork sausage. The pork meat is minced into a smooth paste, stuffed into a casing and then steamed. The complexion of the mortadella is created by a combination of fat, peppercorns and often pistachios and the texture is quite smooth. It’s enjoyed in a number of ways – sandwiched between bread, on charcuterie boards, draped over pizzas, and so on. The inspiration to lace meatballs with mortadella was sparked during a recent trip of mine to New York City while reading a restaurant menu. This particular restaurant had a veal and mortadella meatball appetizer offering and it piqued my interest immediately, as I have a love affair with mortadella. While I did not try the veal and mortadella meatballs, I knew I had to experiment with the concept when I got home. I used an abbreviated version of the beef meatballs that I usually make and added in a healthy amount of diced mortadella. The result was marvelous – just fatty enough, packed with flavor and rich without being too over the top. I decided to go with a roasted red pepper sauce instead of marinara as I thought that the marinara would overpower the beautiful savory and succulent notes that the meatballs project. Additionally, bell peppers are in season in Florida in December, so I figured this was an ideal time to utilize them. You can use jarred roasted red peppers instead of the fresh ones in this recipe to speed things up a bit. Rollin’ Oats carries Jeff’s Naturals organic roasted bell pepper strips and they would work as a great substitute. You can find the rest of the ingredients for these meatballs also at Rollin’ Oats with the exception of the mortadella. That you can usually find at most specialty grocers. The ground beef that I used for these meatballs from Rollin’ Oats was the Dakota organic grassfed 85/15 blend, which proved to be perfect. These meatballs and the roasted red pepper sauce are wonderful on their own as a pre-dinner appetizer, delightful tossed with spaghetti and satisfying while tucked into a split top roll with lots of parmesan cheese and fresh basil.   Mortadella & Beef Meatballs with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce Recipe These mortadella spiked meatballs in roasted red pepper sauce are packed with flavor. Serve them as an appetizer, or toss them with your favorite pasta. Make sure you have some toasted bread handy for scooping up the delicious sauce. Meatballs1 lb ground beef (grass-fed and/or organic preferred)1/2 lb mortadella (diced into small pieces)1/2 cup parmesan (grated)1/2 cup breadcrumbs1/4 cup basil (chopped – plus more for serving)2 eggs (whisked)2 garlic cloves (minced)2 tsp saltRoasted Red Pepper Sauce2 red bell peppers (cut in half – stem and seeds removed)2 vine ripe tomatoes (medium in size)1/2 white onion (medium in size, diced)1/2 cup heavy cream3 garlic cloves (minced)1 tbsp dried oregano2 tsp salt (plus more, to taste)1/2 cup parmesan cheese (grated – plus more for serving) Roasted Red Pepper SauceHeat oven to 450F and line a baking sheet with foil. Place bell pepper halves on sheet and roast for 18-20 minutes, or until peppers begin to take on some color. Remove peppers from oven, place in a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to steam for 10 minutes (this will make it easier to remove the skin). Once cool enough to handle, remove and discard pepper skins – you'll have about 1 1/2 cups of roasted peppers.Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and prepare an ice bath in a bowl. Cut a shallow x into the bottoms of each tomato. Carefully drop tomatoes into boiling water for one minute then place the tomatoes in the ice bath. Remove tomatoes from ice bath and the skin should peel off with ease – discard skins.Place tomatoes and peppers into a blender and blend for 30 seconds until you have a semi-smooth puree. Heat olive oil in a dutch oven or large pot over medium heat. Add in onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softening begins – 6-7 minutes.Stir in minced garlic and cook for about 1-2 minutes until very fragrant. Then, mix in dried oregano.Pour in pepper and tomato mixture and season with salt. Bring mixture to a gentle simmer for 30 minutes (reduce the heat if the sauce begins to boil). Season with more salt as needed. Pour in heavy cream and 1/2 cup grated parmesan and stir to combine. Continue to gently simmer sauce until meatballs are finished in the oven.MeatballsHeat oven to 350 F Combine all ingredients in a large bowl with your hands. Gently form into golfball sized meatballs – mixture should yield about 16 meatballs. Evenly space them apart on the baking sheet and put them into the oven for 20 minutes.After meatballs have baked in the oven, carefully nestle them into the pot with the sauce, reduce heat to medium low and cover the pot with a lid. Simmer meatballs in the sauce for 30 minutes. If you find that the sauce is too thin, add in some more grated parmesan until you've reached the desired thickness.To serve, spoon meatballs into a dish with some sauce, top with grated parmesan and garnish with fresh torn basil. Appetizer, Main CourseAmerican, ItalianMortadella & Beef Meatballs, Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Best of Lists

  • Grilled Black Grouper - Beluga Lentils, Colossal Crab Meat, Coconut Curry
    Best Upscale-Casual Restaurants in St. Petersburg FL 2023

    Being in Florida, the land of vacations, fun and casualness, the term “Fine Dining” is not a favorite of some restaurateurs here as they are concerned it might make their establishment unapproachable to some potential customers. There was one restaurant where I described the food as “gourmet”, and was asked by the owner to not […]

  • Taquitos Tacos - Chorizo, Carnitas, Barbacoa
    Best Taco Places in St. Petersburg FL 2023

    As I sat down to write this, the first thoughts that popped into my head were 1) Everybody loves tacos, 2) There sure are a lot of different types of tacos these days, and 3) what is the actual origin of the taco—is it really Mexican, and how close to the original are they to […]

  • Chicken Taquitos
    10 Best Mexican Restaurants in St. Petersburg FL 2023

    Must Eat Mexican Treats in St. Pete If you search this site for “Mexican”, you may notice that I do all of the Mexican restaurant reviews. Why? It’s because I love Mexican food so much that I could literally eat it every day for a week straight. (I actually have done that before.) Two and […]

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