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Celebrity Chef Viviani opening a new restaurant

Celebrity chef Fabio Viviani. Photo: Facebook.

Celebrity chef Fabio Viviani will soon open his latest restaurant concept in downtown St. Petersburg, marking his first venture in the city.  

Viviani and his team are bringing the “coastal Italian” restaurant and bar concept Taverna Costale to the ground floor of downtown St. Pete’s tallest office tower, at 200 Central Ave. 

The target date for opening is early January. 

Taverna Costale is described as a rustic Italian eatery with a menu featuring prime-cut steaks, homemade pasta, pizzas and signature seafood dishes. 

A rendering of the exterior of Taverna Costale. Facebook image.

Viviani previously set sights on opening an Italian restaurant concept in St. Petersburg with the Tampa-based Nocturnal Group, which owns Franklin Manor, Osteria and Mole y Abuela, but Viviani cut ties with the group. He was determined, however, to introduce the rustic Italian concept in the city. 

Viviani is now partnering with Brian Henry and Anthony Sandstrom for the opening of  Taverna Costale. The group was also behind Viviani’s Wesley Chapel concept Chuck Lager’s American Tavern.

“It didn’t work out with those partners so we decided to change the name and the concept a bit. The idea here is to create an Italian Mediterranean coastal concept with great Italian dishes and seafood from our coastline,” Viviani told the St. Pete Catalyst. “This has been in my head for five years and in the making for almost three years.” 

One of the many dishes that will be served at Taverna Costale. Photo: Taverna Costale. 

Viviani said he worked with Henry and Sandstorm in New York before they relocated to Florida. While Viviani is based in Chicago, he will make visits to Taverna Costale and his partners will run the daily operations.  

“Downtown St. Pete has nothing like this. It will be an elevated dining experience, bringing a very high level of hospitality and food in a very inclusive space. This can be the spot for special occasions, date nights and we also want someone to feel comfortable coming in with board shorts on and grab a pizza at the bar,” Sandstorm said. 

The restaurant will have a 230-seat capacity and feature a large bar extending outside through a retractable garage door. The bar will serve eight to 10 craft cocktails that complement the dishes. 

One of the signature cocktails that could be found at Taverna Costale. Photo: Taverna Costale.

The 5,900-square-foot restaurant will be next to Craft Kafe. Construction is currently underway. The team is actively training its 50-person staff.

Outdoor seating will be available under a shared pavilion with Craft Kafe. “We’ve met with Craft a few months ago. We expect to have a good relationship. There will be synergy with an offset of hours,” Sandstorm said. 

While Viviani’s name carries much weight in the industry, he believes the team and menu items should receive the utmost credit. 

“We hire extremely incredible chefs. Unless I’m in town, I’m not cooking every night of the week. I want to give credit to the team who works there every day,” he said. 

Viviani said he does not foresee Taverna Costale becoming a franchise, but he can visualize opening more restaurants in Tampa Bay, as he currently has several. 

“St. Pete is steps ahead of Tampa and a few steps behind Miami,” Viviani said regarding the evolving culinary scene in the area. “I do see St. Pete going toward a Miami-like food scene with international chains and individual concepts. St. Pete has a phenomenal crowd right now, and it’s underserved for the volume of people here, especially in certain seasons. I see a path of growth for St. Pete in the next decade.” 

Viviani has been featured on Bravo’s Top Chef seasons and is a recurring guest on national television shows such as Good Morning America and numerous competitive Food Network shows, such as Cutthroat Kitchen: All-Star Tournament, which, according to his bio, Vviani won. 

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