Tampa has repeatedly ranked among the best foodie cities in the nation, and the culinary hotspot continues to attract impressive new options. Here are five popular restaurants that have tempted Tampanians’ taste buds since opening this year. True to Tampa’s melting pot reputation, all of their diverse menus were inspired by their owners’ experiences out of state.
Boston Pies for Late Nights
Palazzo Pizza has satisfied Tampa cravings since January. The Boston-style Italian menu, inspired by owner Jason Fox’s time with celebrity restaurateur Nick Varano, includes pizza, handhelds, salads, pie and gelato. Retired pro-wrestler Joe Gomez and life long friend Dino Trafficante are business partners. Fox prides himself on the food quality that is fresh and never frozen as well as the handmade dough. Dine in, pick up or enjoy the outdoor deck until 4 a.m. on weekends. Delivery is available.
Palazzo Pizza | 1818 W. Platt St. | (813) 251-1100 eatpalazzopizza.com | eatpalazzopizza
The Brisket Shoppe was born of pitmaster and owner Danny Hernandez’s love of brisket. As the founder of Tampa staple Holy Hog Barbecue, Hernandez is no stranger to quality grub. His new venture is all about serving up Tampa’s best brisket (prime, USDA prime and Wagyu), sausages and sides. It’s a casual joint with outdoor seating only, but better to get there early as quantities are limited and prone to selling out. “This is a passion project that draws at my heartstrings, and you can see that on the plate,” Hernandez says. “We don’t accept mediocrity. True craftsmanship is what’s at the root of The Brisket Shoppe, and the finished product is amazing Texas-inspired craft barbecue.” You won’t find a freezer, microwave or can opener in the kitchen, where dishes are made fresh daily. The Brisket Shoppe, which opened in April, is attached to the second location for the barbecue emporium Grill & Provisions in South Tampa.
The Brisket Shoppe | 3501 N. Armenia Ave. (813) 605-4005 | thebrisketshoppe.com
New York State of Dine
Willa’s and its sister cafe, Willa’s Provisions, are nestled in North Hyde Park and boast a welcoming, family-friendly vibe. Owners Nate Siegel and Merrin Jenkins are Tampa natives with training in the New York City culinary scene. Willa’s opened in March as their first joint culinary venture, while Willa’s Provisions opened in April. Drawing inspiration from NYC’s all-day cozy neighborhood bistros, Siegel and Jenkins sought to bring that vibe back home. “What sets Willa’s apart is its connection with and love for the community it serves,” Siegel says. “We’re truly a neighborhood restaurant that loves its people, offers classic food, and fosters an attentive, diverse and engaging team that remembers regulars.” Willa’s features a new American menu, drawing on some French and international influences. Anchored in approachable dishes and a wide assortment of vegetable-based sides, Willa’s attracts locals to its easy-going atmosphere.
Willa’s | 1700 W. Fig St. | (813) 519-4552 | willastampa.com
‘The Real Deal’ Jersey Slices
Santoro’s Pizzeria a simple Italian American pizzeria, opened in February in the heart of North Hyde Park. Owner and operator Travis Kaiser grew up working in New Jersey pizzerias and envisioned bringing an authentic Jersey slice shop to the Bay area. “It’s the real deal Jersey slice,” Kaiser says. “We wanted to fill a void we saw in the pizza community, and the response has been so insane. It means a lot that everyone has come out to support us.” The pizzeria, named after Kaiser’s son, cites influences from Naples and Sicily in its cuisine, with a quality plain Jersey-style slice (thin, crispy, no flop) as the cornerstone of the menu. Visitors can also enjoy other Jersey boardwalk-style fare, including subs, cannolis and Italian ice. With walls lined with New York and New Jersey memorabilia, this humble, no-frills joint lets the food do the talking.
Santoro’s Pizzeria | 1329 W. Cass St. (813) 687-7100 | santorospizzeria.com
Welcome to Koreatown
Gangchu Chicken & Beer is the latest culinary venture from Noel Cruz, acclaimed Tampa restaurateur and owner of Ichicoro Ramen. This modern, urban spot has been abuzz since its February opening, bringing the flavors and flair of Koreatown to Seminole Heights with a trendy atmosphere and unique menu selections. “The vibe and the energy that we try to bring every day through the food, drink, music, atmosphere — there aren’t many concepts similar,” Cruz says. Gangchu’s menu centers around chimaek (pronounced “chi-mek”) which means the pairing of Korean fried chicken and beer. At Gangchu, diners can expect crispy fried chicken served with six house-made sauces and other Korean street food-inspired options, all in a casualchic atmosphere. “It’s like the kinds of places I used to go to in New York in Koreatown and the East Village,” Cruz says. “We wanted to bring that here and contribute in our own special way to Tampa’s booming dining scene.”
Gangchu Chicken & Beer | 6618 N. Nebraska Ave. (813) 723-4264 | eatgangchu.com