Dish: A Fresh Step
183 2nd Avenue North | St. Pete | 727-873-7964 | www.seasaltstpete.com
Just a little more than a year ago, Sea Salt opened its doors in the heart of St. Pete’s charming downtown area just two blocks from the waterfront. The sophisticated, metropolitan restaurant with unique designer-decorated niches, a soaring wine tower with 5,000 bottles, a lively bar and oyster bar, and a private dining room has been filled ever since. The broad menu leans toward Italian and seafood with items that satisfy all palates and all dishes are distinguished by the freshest ingredients.
Ingrid Aielli, owner of Sea Salt with her husband Chef Fabrizio Aielli, describe the menu as “Fresh, from the fresh fish bar at the entrance, to the oyster bar, where we have an oyster sommelier! Sea Salt has the freshest and largest selection of whole fish that I know of. The menu also is heavily influenced by Italian flavors since Fabrizio is Italian. We also source our ingredients from local or regional vendors, and from very fine Italian producers that are rarely represented on American menus.”
With a host of restaurants under their belts, including the first Sea Salt location just a few hours south in Naples, the Aiellis were excited to venture into business in St. Pete.
“We thought the restaurant would be a great addition to the downtown area,” Ingrid says. “St. Pete is surrounded by water, which fits our seafood emphasis, and it reminds us of Venice, which speaks to the Italian influence on the menu. There’s a great availability of seafood in St. Pete that works well for Sea Salt. A big part of our decision is the neighborhood we’re in. It has great potential, history, charm, an arts scene and a lot of local, original businesses. It has a European flavor we like.”
Patrons couldn’t be more pleased. Sea Salt’s contemporary cuisine, featuring a balance of seafood and meat dishes overseen by Executive Chef Kenny Tufo, is prepared from the finest seasonal, organic and sustainable ingredients that come directly from local farmers and day boat fishermen whenever possible with Chef using 130 different types and flavors of salts from around the world to season his innovative dishes. Dishes like the Lobster Reuben Sandwich and the Pasta Bolognese are favorites among the restaurant’s seven menus—lunch, dinner, kid’s, lounge, bar, oyster and raw bar, and dessert.
The restaurant also offers the chef’s table experience, an incredible blend of a shared food experience, interaction with Sea Salt’s top chefs and an unbelievable culinary journey, with wines to match if desired. The Aiellis are also planning cooking classes and wine dinners. See the restaurant’s website for more information.
The couple loves their newest restaurant and the surrounding area, boasting, “There’s a surprise every day. We meet so many different people, and we love being part of the community.”
LOBSTER RISOTTO WITH ROASTED TOMATO AND WHITE TRUFFLE PERFUME
2 Medium-size plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise Pinch of salt
Pinch of dried oregano
Extra-virgin olive oil
Garlic-Infused Olive Oil
3 garlic cloves, halved lengthwise
½ cup of extra-virgin olive oil Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste Risotto
¾ pound lobster meat, cooked
1 tablespoon Garlic-Infused Olive Oil (see left)
½ white onion, chopped
1 ½ cups Acquerello Carnaroli rice
½ cup dry white wine
4-5 cups lobster stock (or seafood or vegetable stock)
½ cup tomato sauce
10 leaves fresh basil, finely chopped
1/3 cup, plus 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped, plus extra for garnish
2 tablespoons white truffle oil
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Prepare Roasted Tomatoes (6 hours ahead)
How To Cook:
Season tomato halves with salt and oregano. Place in colander. Let tomatoes sit four hours to remove moisture and concentrate flavors. Preheat oven to 125 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place tomatoes, cut side down, on foil. Drizzle with olive oil and roast for 3 to 4 hours, until tomatoes are slightly shrunken and cooked but not dry. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes before handling. Remove skins if desired.
Make Garlic Olive Oil (1 hour ahead)
Place garlic and olive oil in a small saucepan over lowest heat. Heat for 1 hour or until garlic becomes very soft and infuses oil. Remove garlic. Season to taste.
Cut lobster meat into ½-inch cubes. In a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, place garlic oil. Add onion and sauté, stirring con-stantly, taking care not to brown. Add rice and cook, stirring for about 2 minutes. Add wine and stir constantly until absorbed. Add stock, about ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly and adding more as liquid is absorbed. Continue process until rice is soft and creamy, but slightly al dente. Note: Some brands of rice may require extra stock to reach desired doneness. Add roasted tomatoes, tomato sauce, basil and lob-ster meat, continuing to stir. Cook mixture for another 4 minutes. Stir in butter, parsley, truffle oil, salt and pepper. Stir well to combine all ingredients. Serve warm. Garnish with parsley and grated Parmesan, if using. Serves 6