5 things to know about Bonu’ Taverna, St. Petersburg’s newest Italian restaurant – Low Calorie Diets Tips

ST. PETERSBURG – Bonu’ Taverna, St. Petersburg’s newest Italian restaurant, is now open in the old Cider Press Cafe at 601 Central Ave. It offers a casual, traditional Italian menu and a bar that doubles as a late-night lounge on weekends. The spot has already attracted a lot of attention. Here’s everything you need to know before you go.

The new restaurant takes over the corner building that formerly housed the vegan restaurant Cider Press Cafe at 601 Central Avenue. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

The team

Parli Italiano? Pretty much everyone who works here does.

They include co-owners Lamia Maccarrone and her husband Mario, longtime restaurateurs who own several restaurants in Atlanta, Georgia, including midtown’s longtime Baraonda restaurant, which recently relocated.

A few years ago, the couple were en route to Miami when they decided to visit St. Petersburg and immediately fell in love with the city’s laid-back atmosphere, ample access to water (Mario is an avid sailor), and small-town charm .

“It was love at first sight,” said Lamia Maccarrone, who calls herself Mia. The couple bought a vacation home in St. Petersburg in 2017 and moved to the area full-time in 2020.

The couple have gathered a few friends around them, six of whom run the restaurant together, all as partners. It’s an international bunch: Lamia Maccarrone is originally from Marrakech, Morocco, and her husband is from Catania, Sicily. Luca Antonio, Luca Martucci and Luca Bizzari are all from Italy and Marcello Rodriguez is from Uruguay.

The space

The restaurant takes over the former home of vegan eatery Cider Press Cafe on Central Avenue and Sixth Street – a prime piece of real estate in downtown St. Petersburg’s competitive market. Terracotta seating and whitewashed tables create a Mediterranean vibe outside on the sidewalk, where bougainvilleas frame the entrance to the restaurant.

Inside, the space is divided in two, with a small dining room on the left overlooking a partially open kitchen. The larger bar area is anchored by a long quartz-topped bar and mural by local artist Leo Gomez. Italian newspapers hang from a wooden dowel shelf, and throughout the restaurant — behind and along the bar and framing the windows — there are reclaimed carved wood accents, giving the space a rustic charm that still feels airy and light.

The restaurant has a small, cozy dining room and a bar that doubles as a late-night lounge on weekends.
The restaurant has a small, cozy dining room and a bar that doubles as a late-night lounge on weekends. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
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In order to obtain a liquor license, the owners had to expand the restaurant, which now seats around 160 people. Now, a space that was once only used for storage has two additional small rooms, one with seating overlooking Sixth Street “for people who want to hang out and work on their laptops,” Maccarrone said, and another private room , which can be rented out for dinner or business meetings. The space will also be used for future wine tasting and cooking classes.

Although billed primarily as a restaurant, on weekends the bar area doubles as a late-night lounge with DJ sets until 2am

The food

The traditional Italian menu features dishes like Milanese chicken with arugula and shaved parmesan.
The traditional Italian menu features dishes like Milanese chicken with arugula and shaved parmesan. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

Why open another Italian restaurant in St. Petersburg? Bonu’ Taverna is trying to fill a specific niche that the owners in the area were missing: A place that offers a traditional approach, while also crossing the line between fine dining restaurants and the more casual pizza and pasta joints.

“We studied the market for five years and saw what St. Pete was looking for,” Maccarrone said. “We felt it needed a true Italian restaurant – a casual environment for a casual city.”

The majority of the menu consists of small dishes designed to be shared. Dishes include polpetta, a grilled squid served with pistachio pesto ($18); a grilled Romaine Caesar salad with croutons and shaved parmesan ($14); acciughe, aka marinated anchovies ($8); and a watermelon, goat cheese, and pistachio salad ($14). Customizable tagliers ($24) — large-format charcuterie platters — offer a selection of imported Italian cheeses and meats (bresaola, ‘nduja, mortadella, soppressata) along with pickles, olives, and jams.

The menu offers a long list of small dishes to share, including an appetizer of deep-fried gnocchi and prosciutto di parma.
The menu offers a long list of small dishes to share, including an appetizer of deep-fried gnocchi and prosciutto di parma. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

The menu anchors a list of pinas, a Roman-style pizza made with a wet dough that ferments for between 48 and 72 hours before being topped and baked. The end result features a crust that is crispy on the outside but still soft and chewy on the inside. Toppings include a version with smoked salmon, stracchino cheese, and frisee ($16) and one with tomato, mozzarella, and spicy salami ($16).

Roman-style pinsa have thin, crispy crusts with various toppings.
Roman-style pinsa have thin, crispy crusts with various toppings. [ Courtesy of Bonu’ Taverna ]

Larger dishes include a variety of pastas, including a fettuccine with porcini mushrooms and truffle oil ($29) and ricotta and spinach-stuffed ravioli with tomato and basil ($18). A short list of appetizers (known as Piatti Grande), include the grigilata, a selection of grilled short ribs, sausage, and skirt steak served with chimichurri ($38) and a chicken Milanese with fresh arugula and shaved parmesan ($22).

For dessert, there’s tiramisu ($8), cannoli ($8), and a ricotta and nutella tart ($8).

The Miuccia dessert consists of a tart with orange marmalade studded with Calabrian chilies.
The Miuccia dessert consists of a tart with orange marmalade studded with Calabrian chilies. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

The drinks

An evolving bar menu is at the heart of the restaurant’s late-night schedule, and Maccarrone said they’re still in the process of finalizing the cocktail menu. All of the spot’s signature drinks are $12, and so far the opening menu includes a Salina Spritz made with Galliano L’Aperitivo, Campari, La Zona Prosecco, and club soda; the Basilico, made with Milagro tequila, lemon basil syrup, and soda water; and Buona Notte with WhistlePig PiggyBack Rye, Foro Amaro and Bitter Truth Bitter.

The wine list is about 80 percent Italian, with an emphasis on smaller producers, though there are still some crowd favorites from California, France, and Spain on the menu.

Acciughe, marinated white anchovies, are among the many small dishes meant for sharing.
Acciughe, marinated white anchovies, are among the many small dishes meant for sharing. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

The extras

Maccarrone said she hopes the restaurant will become a true neighborhood spot, a place that emulates and recreates the Italian approach to hospitality and entertainment.

“Italians do it best, for me,” she said. “The culture, its extravagance and its lifestyle.”

She also envisions a space that feels more like an all-day bistro, where neighbors can stop by for a glass of wine and a snack while working on their laptop (the restaurant offers free Wi-Fi), a casual weekday meal, or a night out with friends at the weekend—preferably all three.

“I’d rather have the same client come in three times a week than one person come in once a month,” she said.

Tagliolini with zucchini and prawns and a plate of PEI mussels are on the menu at Bonu' Taverna.
Tagliolini with zucchini and prawns and a plate of PEI mussels are on the menu at Bonu’ Taverna. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

The restaurant works in soft opening mode. Beginning on Wednesday, the Bonu’ Taverna is open for lunch, dinner and late into the night, seven days a week. The restaurant opens at 11am and stays open all day, until 10pm weekdays (Sunday to Wednesday) and 11pm Thursday to Saturday, with the bar and lounge open until 2am stay

601 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg. www.bonutaverna.com

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