The Top 10 Best Upscale Casual Dining Restaurants in St Petersburg, FL by Local Foodies 2017

The Top 10 Best Upscale Casual Dining Restaurants in St Petersburg, FL by Local Foodies 2017

Editor’s Note: Here’s the UPDATED
Best Upscale Restaurants in St. Petersburg FL 2019

If you google best restaurants in St Petersburg, FL, you are sure to find TripAdvisor and Yelp near the top with their auto generated lists. When I just did it, the top 10 list included a wine only bar with no food, Chick-fil-A, The Melting Pot chain and Po Folks. Really? Well, we set out to change that.

Whether you are planning a trip to St Pete or you live here and have missed out on a few of our local gems, this list will help guide you, from bustling downtown St Petersburg to the beaches, to a spectacular culinary dining experience.

We called this list upscale casual based on a quote from Justin Yu, former GM at FarmTable Kitchen, “Dress Codes are important in setting the tone for the style of dining in a restaurant. I always believe in dressing for dinner appropriately and according to the ambiance, style of service or price point of a restaurant. Upscale restaurants deserve a chic, well-dressed crowd, whereas it is completely appropriate to dress more laid-back in Casual restaurants. With that said, a Formal Dress Code is difficult to enforce these days depending on the city and the formality of its restaurants. It can be daunting for a guest to have to adhere to a strict style of dress in order to dine there – the Dress Code is falling more and more out of favor, as more Upscale Casual restaurants emerge who can provide a trendy ambiance with great food and service in a casual, comfortable environment.”

St Petersburg Foodies Restaurant Reviews is a very active group that we run on Facebook. The group consists of all serious local foodies. We conducted a poll in the group based on this criteria: “Vote for or add the one restaurant that you would tell an out of town visitor they must go to, if you could only pick one. The area parameters are all of St Petersburg, including the Beach, Gulfport and Pasadena, since they technically fall in St Petersburg.” Because we ended up with around 20 restaurants, we are splitting the list into two: Best Upscale Casual and Best Casual.

Read our Top Ten Best Casual Dining Restaurants Here

The 10 Best Upscale Casual Dining Restaurants 

1. IL Ritorno
449 Central Ave #101
Saint Petersburg, FL 33701
Takes Reservations: YES
IL Ritorno’s Website
Hours: Mon – Sat 5pm – Close
View Menu Here
Dress Code: Business casual. No beach attire, sports jerseys, athletic shorts, baseball hats, tennis shoes or flip flops. Contact for more details.

IL Ritorno - Seafood Brodetto
Seafood Brodetto

(Photo Courtesy of Davis Jasmin)

IL Ritorno arrived on the Downtown St. Pete foodies scene in late 2013, held their Grand Opening on January 30, 2014 and quickly became a popular destination with their unique, modern style of Northern Italian cuisine.

Chef David Benstock and his wife Erica are the sole proprietors of the Restaurant aptly named “The Return” in Italian. Chef David grew up in St. Petersburg and after high school he attended and graduated from The Culinary Arts School at Johnson & Wales University in Denver, Colorado and then went on to hone and perfect his craft, cooking in kitchens in Colorado, New York, Italy, Miami and Tampa before “returning” to his hometown and opening IL Ritorno. And so lucky we all are that he did!

IL Ritorno - Chef David Benstock holding a bag of Ramps
Chef David Benstock of IL Ritorno holding a bag of Ramps

(Photo Courtesy of Davis Jasmin)

The menu is a new modern spin on Italian cooking. You won’t find old school dishes like spaghetti and meatballs or heavy cream sauces. The food is lighter than that, influenced by Chef Dave’s training. All of the pasta is house made and Chef Dave tries to use locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. However, he refuses to sacrifice quality and does fly in cheeses and some other items from California, Italy, etc.

While the menu is constantly changing with the seasons, IL Ritorno is known for several signature dishes namely the Short Rib Mezzaluna (pictured), the Octopus appetizer and the best Chicken dish that I have ever had! These items remain on the menu while others rotate.

IL Ritorno’s Short Rib Mezzaluna

(Photo Courtesy of Hype Group/IL Ritorno)

The restaurant has enjoyed such huge success that they are currently expanding to double their original size. Read all about the expansion here. Update: The expansion was completed at the end of December 2017 with the addition of a full liquor bar as well. This amazing St Petersburg gem has a strong New York City feel. In fact, Chef Dave was just recently invited, in July 2017, to cook at the James Beard House (a major honor, enjoyed by only the best) in NYC. Reservations are strongly suggested!

Read more about IL Ritorno here:
The 10 Best Italian Restaurants in St Petersburg, FL 2016
IL Ritorno Ramps Up Their Spring Menu
Run don’t walk to IL Ritorno! Absolutely the Best!
Review of IL Ritorno’s Event with Green Bench Brewery
The 10 Best Cheese & Charcuterie Boards in St Petersburg, FL 2016
The 10 Best Romantic Restaurants St Petersburg, FL 2017

2. Brick & Mortar Kitchen & Wine Bar
539 Central Ave
St Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 822-6540
Takes Reservations: Call Ahead Seating
Brick & Mortar’s Facebook Page
Tues 5pm – 9pm
Wed – Thurs 5pm – 10pm
Fri – Sat 4:30pm – 11pm
View Menu Here
Dress Code: No Dress Code

Brick & Mortar Downtown St. Pete
Brick & Mortar Downtown St. Pete

Located in Downtown St. Petersburg, Brick & Mortar opened at the end of April 2015. It is the baby of Chef and Owner, Jason Ruhe and his wife, Hope Montgomery. Prior to Brick & Mortar they ran In Bloom Catering in Tampa for nearly 10 years. The name of the restaurant marks the plunge they took from running a catering business to opening a brick and mortar restaurant.

Brick & Mortar has amazing seasonal cuisine made with fresh and locally sourced (when possible) products. It is upscale without being expensive. The menu is contemporary New American style food with a few Indonesian and Spanish touches (influences from Chef Jason’s family).

Fat Noodles
Fat Noodles

They have made such a splash on the St Petersburg food scene that they were featured in 10 Amazing Florida Restaurants that Aren’t in Miami in Travel & Leisure magazine. The write up says, “The menu adds contemporary flair to American classics: try the beef carpaccio with poached egg-stuffed ravioli or the house-made “fat noodles” with peas, mint, and chèvre. The real standouts, however, may be the desserts—the restaurant’s lavender panna cotta with Marcona almonds is about as decadent as it gets.”

Carpaccio of Beef Tenderloin with House Made Ravioli
Carpaccio of Beef Tenderloin with House Made Ravioli

The restaurant serves beer and wine only, but has a very eclectic and extensive wine list. They do not take reservations so plan to wait a little if you show up during peak hours. But don’t worry. It will be worth your wait!!

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Read more about Brick & Mortar here:
Brick & Mortar – Truly Amazing
Brick & Mortar St Pete Review
The 10 Best Cheese & Charcuterie Boards in St Petersburg, FL 2016
The 10 Best Romantic Restaurants St Petersburg, FL 2017

3. FarmTable Cucina
179 2nd Avenue N.
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 523-6300
Takes Reservations: YES
FarmTable Cucina Website
Mon – Thurs 11am – 10pm
Fri – Sat 11am – 11pm
Sun 11am – 9pm
View Happy Hour Menu
View Dinner Menu Here
Dress Code: Upscale/Smart Casual

FarmTable Cucina is located on the 2nd floor of Locale Gourmet Market at Sundial Shops

FarmTable Cucina is a stand-alone, full-service restaurant on the second floor of LOCALE Market offering casual gourmet dining with fresh seasonal ingredients every day of the week. From casual happy hour to wood-fire grilled steaks to the acclaimed 8-course tasting menu at The Chef’s Table.

Two Dock Clams at FarmTable Kitchen
Two Dock Clams

Chef Jeffrey Hileman is the Executive Chef at FarmTable Cucina and LOCALE Market. Arriving in St. Petersburg in 2014 to launch Locale Market, he has helped FarmTable Kitchen to evolve into what it is today by bringing his “rustic, yet refined recipes and his philosophy that great ingredients and flavors should always be at the heart of any recipe”.

Cavatelli at FarmTable Kitchen

Locale Market, the brain child of nationally acclaimed chefs, Michael Mina and Don Pintabona, is one of the renowned anchors of Sundial St. Pete which is located in the heart of Downtown St. Petersburg and is a collection of boutique retail shops, services, and restaurants.

Locale Market has several options in its two-stories.

1. Locale Market downstairs is a food goods market where you can buy fresh and packaged gourmet foods, and wine & beer for enjoyment at home, much of which is locally sourced.

Our Tour Guides for the Market Tour
Locale Market Downstairs

2. Locale Market also has prepared and cooked-to-order food – also downstairs, you can purchase pre-cooked or made-to-order dinners to take home, or you can order fresh made items like burgers and sandwiches to eat on premise.

3. Farmtable Cucina: Upstairs has a full liquor bar and is a full service upscale restaurant.

4. The Chef’s Table Experience: An exclusive eight course chef’s tasting dinner for up to 10 guests in the intimate Private Dining Room within FarmTable Kitchen. Guests also have the option of enjoying the Sommelier’s wine pairing, or selecting glasses of wine or locally-brewed beers.

As Fresh as it Gets
Whole Fresh Red Snapper served at The Chef’s Table – As Fresh as it Gets

You can’t go wrong at FarmTable Kitchen! We have always had a phenomenal experience! And they have one of the best happy hours in town.

More FarmTable Kitchen Reading:
The 10 Best Happy Hours St Petersburg, FL August 2017
FarmTable Kitchen’s Incredible Edible Happy Hour
Meet Executive Chef Jeffrey Hileman of FarmTable Kitchen
The FarmTable Kitchen Experience
The 10 Best Cheese & Charcuterie Boards in St Petersburg, FL 2016
The 10 Best Steaks in St Petersburg, FL 2016

4. Gratzzi Italian Grille
211 2nd St S
St Petersburg, FL 33701
Takes Reservations: YES
Gratzzi Itallian Grille Website
Mon – Thurs 11am – 10pm
Fri – Sat 11am – 11pm
Sun 4pm – 10pm
View The Dinner Menu Here
Dress Code: No Dress Code

Gratzzi Logo(Photo Courtesy of Grattzi)

Gratzzi always comes out on top in reviews and surveys. Chef Tony Mangiafico and, co-owner/General Manager, Domenic D’Angelo are both from Sicily and bring great authenticity to the food and atmosphere. Many of their recipes come from the old country, and some are centuries old. They offer “fine dining with a family atmosphere”.

Gratzzi Chicken Parmigiana
Chicken Parmigiana

(Photo Courtesy of Barry Lively)

One of the reasons Gratzzi does so well is that they have something for everyone. They have the classics that everyone expects from an Italian eatery, but their steaks and seafood also rival specialty steakhouses and seafood restaurants. Gratzzi also rotates in exotic specials like Alligator, Rattlesnake, Ostrich Eggs, Buffalo and more.

Grattzi Filet Mignon
Filet Mignon

(Photo Courtesy of Barry Lively)

They have something for everyone with their prices as well. Their regular menu items range from $10 to $48 for surf & turf. Lastly, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention their signature Cavatelli Bada Bing—cooked table side—handmade Ricotta Cavatelli, vodka Flambed in a pan and then poured inside of a giant Padano Parmesan Wheel with San Daniele Prosciutto, Tomatoes, and Basil. It is stirred and stirred as the walls of the cheese start melting and coating the pasta.

Gratzzi Bada Bing
Luis making the Bada Bing.

(Photo Courtesy of Barry Lively)

Read more about Grattzi Italian Grille here:
The 10 Best Italian Restaurants in St Petersburg, FL 2016
Gratzzi Italian Grille Review of My Favorite Pasta Dishes
Gratzzi Italian Grille Review of My 3 Favorite (non-pasta) Dishes
The 10 Best Romantic Restaurants St Petersburg, FL 2017
5 Places for Adventurous Eaters in St Petersburg, FL 2016
St Petersburg Foodies Brunch at Gratzzi Italian Grille
Grattzi Italian Grille Gets Exotic
The 10 Best Steaks in St Petersburg, FL 2016

5. Annata
300 Beach Dr NE
St Petersburg, FL 33701
Takes Reservations: NO
Annata Website
Sun – Thurs 4pm – 10pm
Fri – Sat 4pm – 11pm
View Dinner Menu Here
Dress Code: No Dress Code

Annata (Photo Courtesy of Annata)

Annata is a restaurant and wine bar in St. Petersburg, Florida. Situated on the scenic waterfront of Straub Park on famed Beach Drive, Annata offers contemporary cuisine and a fantastic selection of great wine to tantalize many palates. The menu is a mix of fine dishes from Italy and abroad, with local ingredients sourced from relationships with bay area farms and suppliers.

Annata Octopus
Octopus Small Plate

They specialize in wines and cheese & charcuterie and do a great job of it. They have great quality imported meats and cheeses. The service is excellent, the atmosphere is chic and they sometimes have live music.

Annata Wine's Cheese & Charcuterie Platter
Cheese and Charcuterie Platter

Annata does not take reservations and they are usually quite busy. You can put your name on the wait list and if there is no room at the bar to wait for a table, they will take your phone number and call you to let you know when your table is ready, allowing you to have a drink somewhere nearby while you wait.

Read more about Annata here:
The 10 Best Cheese & Charcuterie Boards in St Petersburg, FL 2016
I Found Gluten Free Ravioli at Annata Wine Bar
Annata Wine Bar’s Cheese & Charcuterie is Outstanding!
Annata Wine Bar St Pete Review
The 10 Best Happy Hours St Petersburg, FL August 2017

6. Beau n Mo’s Italian Eating House

2924 5th Ave N
St Petersburg, FL 33713
Beau n Mo’s Website
Tues – Fri 4:30pm – 9pm
Sat 5:30pm – 9pm
Takes Reservations: YES
View Dinner Menu Here
Dress Code: No Dress Code

Beau n Mo's Italian Eating House The Tomahawk Ribeye
The Tomahawk Ribeye Special

Read more about Beau n Mo’s steaks here

At almost 2 years old, Beau & Mo’s has shot up the charts quickly with many rave reviews. It is casual finer dining, off the beaten path, with a family atmosphere, and so friendly that anyone is welcome to walk back into the kitchen to say hello to Chef Beau.

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Beau n Mo's Italian Eating House Spaghetti and Meatballs
The Spaghetti and Meatballs

Beau & Mo’s Italian Eating House is a “Chicago-style Italian Steakhouse” in the Historic Kenwood district of St. Pete. They offer pasta dishes, steaks and locally caught seafood, along with several local ingredients procured from the Saturday Morning Market in Downtown St. Petersburg.

Beau n Mo's Italian Eating House - Sausage ala Joe
Sausage ala Joe

Last year we featured Beau n Mo’s in our piece The 10 Best Steaks in St Petersburg, FL this was before we had even tried their steak. They were ranked based on popular vote by our St Pete locals. Since then we have had their steak and they deserve to be ranked much higher up on the list. I literally crave their Delmonico!

Beau & Mo’s says; “We serve our steaks aged 35 days in house, cut to order (16-48oz) corn fed Nebraska beef. When you start with quality you get quality. Can you say Delmonico! We had an Italian Steakhouse in Chicago – this is what we do.”

Read more about Beau n Mo’s Italian Eating House here:
The 10 Best Steaks in St Petersburg, FL 2016
The 10 Best Italian Restaurants in St Petersburg, FL 2016
Beau n Mo’s Delmonico Steak Ranks Amongst the Best!

7. Rococo Steak

655 2nd Ave S
St Petersburg, FL 33701
Takes Reservations: YES
Rococo Steak Website
Tues – Thurs 4pm – 10pm
Fri – Sat 4pm – 11pm
Sun 4pm – 9pm
View Dinner Menu Here
Dress Code: Upscale/Smart Casual

Rococo Steak Exterior(All photos courtesy of Rococo Steak)

Strict traditionalists may question Rococo Steak for their reimagined interpretation of the American steakhouse. Born out of an undying passion, by Executive Chef Matt Rainey, for creative cuisine with avant-garde sensibility and artistic flair, Rococo Steak embraces a lighter, livelier and decidedly more decadent fine dining experience. From fresh seafood…

Rococo Seafood Tower
The Seafood Tower

To hand made pastas to delectable steaks…Chef Matt leads guests on a thrilling gastronomic adventure. His imaginative team offers a chic twist on classic steakhouse fare, showcasing the highest quality ingredients prepared in the most inspired way, from your first delectable bite to satisfying finish.

Rococo Tagliatelle Carbonara
Tagliatelle Carbonara
Rococo Steak and wine
45 Day Dry Aged Cowboy Ribeye

Under the leadership of Wine Director Will Howard, the Rococo Steak wine cellar is one of the most celebrated in Tampa Bay. An impressive glass-enclosed, climate-controlled wine room houses the 3,500 bottles offered on their 650-label wine list. In fact they are the only Wine Spectator “Best of Award of Excellence” winner three years running in St. Petersburg.

Rococo Wine Cellar
Wine Cellar

Read more about Rococo here:
The Renaissance of Rococo Steak
The 10 Best Romantic Restaurants St Petersburg, FL 2017
The 10 Best Cheese & Charcuterie Boards in St Petersburg, FL 2016
The 10 Best Steaks in St Petersburg, FL 2016


8. Sola Bistro and Wine Bar
6700 Gulf Blvd
St Pete Beach, FL 33706
Takes Reservations: YES
Sola Bistro Website
Mon – Sat 4pm – 10pm
View Dinner Menu Here
Dress Code: No Dress Code

Sola Bistro(Photo courtesy of Sola Bistro)

The proprietor of Sola Bistro and Wine Bar is a very nice, warm and friendly Armenian guy named Tigran Khachaturyan. He goes by “Tig” (hard “G” like Tigger in Winnie the Pooh). Tig and his chef, Artem Kucherenko, (who is also quite hospitable) have created epicurean ecstasies for their medium size, but eclectic menu.

Rabbit Cacciatore at Sola Bistro
Rabbit Cacciatore at Sola Bistro

When you’re making your own housemade cured meats and everything else with no preservatives or artificial ingredients, you can’t have a huge menu. It’s two pages with around 20-ish items including starters, desserts and sides. Not everything on the menu is “out there”. They have “normal food” like Shrimp & Polenta, Mussels, Burrata Caprese, Rib Eye Steak, and Cast Iron Chicken …

Sola Bistro & Wine Bar - Burrata Caprese
The Burrata Caprese
Sola Bistro & Wine Bar - Shrimp & Polenta
The Shrimp & Polenta

Read more about Sola here:
Sola Bistro and Wine Bar: A Foodies Utopia
Feeling Like Family at Sola Bistro and Wine Bar
St Pete Beach’s Sola Bistro and Wine Bar Revisited July 2017
5 Places for Adventurous Eaters in St Petersburg, FL 2016


9. Reading Room
6001 Central Ave
St Petersburg, FL 33710
Takes Reservations: YES
The Reading Room Website
Wed – Sat 5pm – close
Sun 5pm – 9pm
View Dinner Menu Here

The Reading Room Bar
The Reading Room Bar

Since opening in February 2017, the Reading Room has fast become a St Petersburg locals favorite. It is a New American style restaurant that truly aims for garden to table. I say garden because they actually grew their own garden while the restaurant was in its build out mode and many, if not most, of the dishes are inspired by what is growing in their own garden. Like this Roasted Raw Roots dish…

The Reading Room: Roasted & Raw Roots
The Roasted & Raw Roots

The building used to be a Christian Science Reading Room, which is the obvious inspiration for the name.

The Reading Room: Clams & Mussels
The Clams & Mussels

Executive Chef and Co-Owner, Lauren Macellaro, came from the renowned Rooster & the Till in Tampa. She graduated from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York, and has also worked at Locale Market in St. Pete, and Cucina 24 in Asheville, NC.

The Reading Room: Queen Snapper
The Queen Snapper

They serve Beer, Wine and Craft Cocktails by utilizing vermouths and wines and other herbs and bitters. No liquor. Mixologist and Co-Owner, Jessika Palombo (JP), is in charge of creating the delicious craft low abv cocktails.

The Reading Room: All Things Rose
The All Things Rose cocktail

The Reading Room is a New American Restaurant that is “Garden inspired & wood fired”.

Read more about the Reading Room here:
Fall in Love with the Reading Room…We Did!!
New Restaurant: The Reading Room Opening Late 2016

10. Parkshore Grill
300 Beach Dr NE
St Petersburg, FL 33701
Takes Reservations: YES
Parkshore Grill Website
Mon – Thurs 11am – 10pm
Fri – Sat 11am – 11pm
Sun 10am – 10pm
View Dinner Menu Here

Parkshore Grill(Photo courtesy of Parkshore Grill)

Serving contemporary American cuisine, Parkshore Grill is a refined space for steaks & seafood paired with fine wines served inside or on the sprawling outdoor patio overlooking the St. Petersburg waterfront on World Famous Beach Drive in Downtown St. Petersburg. Parkshore Grill is another long-established favorite that was here long before the restaurant boom and still stands tall with excellent cuisine, professional service and an elegant setting in the scenic heart of Beach Drive.

Fresh Local Grouper over Brie Cheese Grits

Executive Chef, Tyson Grant, strives to use only the finest ingredients in creating every dish at Parkshore Grill. Serving all natural, hormone and antibiotic free Niman Ranch Beef, Springer Mountain Farms chicken, fresh sustainable seafood and local organic produce whenever possible all combine to give you an unforgettable dining experience.

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10 Best Upscale Casual Dining Restaurants in St Petersburg, FL 2017
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The top 10 best restaurants in St Petersburg, FL as voted on by local foodies.

DISCLAIMER: Kevin, Lori, Abby, Haley, & Lindsey do not dine anonymously (this would be impossible) and we sometimes get free food (though never expected). However, we dine with the locals and we support our own. You will always get honesty in a respectful manner.

PLEASE NOTE: Reviews reflect a certain moment in time. Some restaurants stay extremely consistent over many years, and some change for the better or worse. Some things that may change are: chefs, recipes, food suppliers, ingredients, philosophies, ownership, etc. We always hope that you have the same good, or great experience we had.

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2 Responses

  • Hi
    I am coming to St Petersburg in December . Can you advise a really nice restaurant for xmas day??
    Could you also give me your absolutely fabulous restaurants to go to whilst we are there. Happy to try traditional
    Russian, but groovy, busy restaurants where locals might go??
    Janette Malouf

    • Jeanette,

      I think you have the wrong city. We are St Petersburg, FL not St Petersburg, Russia.

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