With seemingly endless options for culinary delight, may we not lose sight of the art and pleasure of fine dining. A heightened experience, it’s not about simply letting the stove rest, it’s a destination in celebration of occasion, an event to prepare for, a theater where chefs display feats of culinary greatness, and we–the willing audience-gourmand–are ready to be enthralled. As our local culinary scene expands, evolves and captures the attention of a watching world, this year’s fine dining guide celebrates venues where dining becomes a grand affair, a departure from the ordinary humdrum of daily life. Fine dining awakens all of our senses, piques our curiosity, ignites our imagination, leaves us satisfied and perhaps even inspired.
Ebbe (featured above)
With Ebbe, Tampa reaps the benefit of Chef Ebbe Volmer’s illustrious career. Prior to the eponymous enterprise, Chef Volmer’s global career saw him at the helm of Michelin-starred restaurants. He draws upon his smörgåsbord of experiences to offer Nordic classics and freewheeling Florida-inspired dishes, served tasting menu style.
“My philosophy revolves around elevating dining to an art form,” Volmer says. “I take pride in creating dishes that go beyond ordinary dining.”
1202 N. Franklin St., Tampa
Candy DeBartolo’s vision was to create a dining destination where everything that happens around the table is considered sacred. As such, this restaurant is an ode to food, flavors, style and people. In-house, elevated contemporary American Italian inspired cuisine is best enjoyed with kinfolk.
“We’ve passionately crafted an unparalleled dining experience with deliciously-bold twists on family favorites,” DeBartolo says. “In the heart of Tampa Bay, the atmosphere is as sophisticated as it is comfortable.”
15405 N Dale Mabry Hwy, Tampa | (813) 609-8000
From the masterminds of Bern’s, Haven puts shareable plates at its forefront — eclectic and thoughtfully curated. Artisanal charcuterie and cheese selections, and boast-worthy wine and whiskey lists, delight guests at this contemporary restaurant where homage is given to honored techniques through a modern approach.
“From unique dishes to the newest whiskey from a small distillery, we share an ever-evolving menu with our guests,” says executive chef Chad Johnson.
2208 W. Morrison Ave., Tampa | (813) 258-2233
Cena + Bread and Butta
Chef Michael Buttacavoli isn’t just known for the meatballs that ‘Beat Bobby Flay.’ His restaurant, Cena, is a staple of the Tampa culinary scene and a cherished destination for Italian cuisine.
The chef’s highly-anticipated project, Bread and Butta Pizza Bar is set to launch in the space adjacent to Cena. With the award-winning chef at the helm, it’s indubitable that Bread and Butta will be serving some of the best pizza Tampa has seen.
120 E. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa | (813) 374-8840
At two nightly seatings, gastronomers partake in a consciously-curated sensory experience. The specialty du jour–hip: intimate, farm-to-table food made slow. Executive chef and co-owner Debbie DeVico-O’Neil cooks sans-gluten, seed oils and refined sugars. The menu is illustrative of the culinary movement toward clean, unprocessed whole foods.
“Our locally-sourced and fresh organic ingredients shine,” she says. “Our guests say they fantasize about our seafood dishes and grass fed steaks.”
2149 3rd Ave S., #6, St. Petersburg | (727) 289-7598
Sauvignon Wine Locker
A hidden treasure in a sea of downtown bars and eateries, Sauvignon is a scratch kitchen making fresh pasta, gelato, and myriad creative American dishes, curated with the savvy diner and wine enthusiast in mind. The atmosphere is vivacious and the menu is elevated, yet completely unpretentious.
“The guiding ethos at Sauvignon is, ‘we are only as good as our last dish served,’” Chris Ciacia, owner and sommelier says.
241 Central Ave., St. Petersburg | (727) 827-7896