Ciccio's California Cuisine (St. Petersburg)

Photo used with permission from Ciccio's Facebook

A couple of years ago, I started my job as a paralegal with an attorney based in St. Petersburg and when you are the only two individuals in the office, you take every opportunity to go out for lunch. A frequent visit of ours was Ciccio's California Cuisine. Located on 4th Street and 37th Avenue North, Ciccio's was a very convenient location that provided healthy and affordable lunch options for us. 

Since moving on to another position on the other side of the bridge where I live, I hadn't come up with the time to visit this location again. It wasn't until I was out at another Ciccio's Restaurant Group location, The Lodge, that I heard from my former boss that our favorite lunch spot had undergone a complete renovation. With some gracious help from the owner, a dinner date was made so I could see the changes and try the new Cali Flats on Two$ Tuesdays!

Arriving on a rainy day as I did doesn't do much to damper your mood, or make for a dreary meal at the new Ciccio's; it's nearly impossible with the multiple colors, brilliant lights and clean layout. 

Photo used with permission from Ciccio's Facebook

The Ciccio's St. Pete that I knew was a cool location, but it was also a third of the size and much darker than the new look. Although the atmosphere was still pleasant and relaxing, the openness and brightness of the new area is so welcoming and refreshing.

Photo used with permission from Ciccio's Facebook

On Tuesdays after 5pm, Ciccio's offers a nice $2 menu consisting of such items as beers, sangrias, Cali Flats and select sides. Cali Flats are smaller tastings of their bowls on top of an open-faced grilled tortilla. With nine different Cali Flats to choose from, I decided on a White Sangria to sip on while looking over our options.

Refreshing and light, with apple and sprinkled cinnamon, this White Sangria is incredibly unique and unlike any sangria I've tasted elsewhere. 

While all of the Cali Flats sounded great, we ultimately settled on three that came recommended by the staff and owner: Mexican, Gigante and my favorite, Citrus.

The Mexican Cali Flat is made with chopped chicken breast, black beans, tomatoes, avocado, sour cream (I opted for it on the side), cheddar cheese and crispy lettuce. With a slightly spicy kick, the Mexican is universally enjoyed.

The Gigante is made with avocado glazed buffalo chicken breast, crispy onions, pickled jalapenos, diced celery, lettuce, crumbled blue cheese and Lime Ceasar dressing. Named after one of the owners, Jeff, the Gigante is probably something I've never have tried if it wasn't his namesake. Not only am I usually not a blue cheese fan, but the idea of anything "pickled" isn't particularly appealing to me. Little did I expect the burst of flavor I got from this flat and even though I know how great Ciccio's food is, I was still surprised by how much I enjoyed this choice. 

You'd think that with the strong ingredients in this flat there would be a flavor that would overpower everything else and yet, I'm pleased to report that this is not the case. A perfect blend, I'd recommend the Gigante to the worst critic and expect a positive review.

My favorite of the night, the Citrus Cali Flat's success can be contributed to the drizzled citrus aioli, which is pretty much the perfect sauce. The Citrus, aside from the aioli, is also made with chopped chicken breast (or you can choose to have seared rare tuna instead), avocado, shaved red onion, lettuce, tomatoes and diced cucumbers. 

Throughout our Cali Flats tastings, we received two drinks to share. 

The Cali-Jito is made with wine based rum, fresh mint, sugar, soda and muddled lime. 

The Cali-Rita is made with Agave wine fermented with fresh citrus juices.

Having wine based liquor created a slightly different taste than the norm. However, I loved it! I felt like I was enjoying a lighter and healthier version.

Next, with bellies slowly filling, we put in a couple more orders: the Filet Mignon Quesadillas and the Tuna Poki bowl for a taste.

The Filet Mignon Quesadillas are composed of strips of filet mignon, black beans, roasted poblanos, cilantro, spicy corn guacamole, pepper jack cheese and sour cream. The filet pieces were tender and juicy and the other ingredients blended well together.

Lastly, a Water bowl tasting was in order. We chose to try the Tuna Poki bowl. 

I certainly can't say that I know what each of these ingredients are, but nonetheless, the Tuna Poki consists of charred ahi tuna tossed with fresh minced ginger, cilantro and a spicy garlic Rayu ponzu sauce served over jicama and cucumber tossed with yuzu tobikko and sesame seeds atop chilled Asian noodles. The chilled noodles were shocking at first as I've never tried anything like it, but the flavor of the tuna was fabulous and I liked the nice blend of everything.

I very much recommend a trip to Ciccio's St. Pete, especially on $2 Tuesdays!

A special thanks to Ciccio's owners and staff for a great night out!

For more information about Ciccio's, including what they are all about and the healthy choices available, check out my blog post about the SoHo location: Ciccio's/Water.

Ciccio's on Urbanspoon


Celebrate National Rum Day with Captain Morgan

Generally, I prefer vodka over rum and it wasn't until I went to the Captain Morgan event at Ciro's Speakeasy that my mind was changed. At this event, we were treated to five different cocktails, all made with Captain Morgan's new Black Spiced Rum and I became a believer!

Now, I'm pretty excited to celebrate National Rum Day next Thursday, August 16th. Thanks to Captain Morgan, I now have three recipes to share.

First, try The Satisfaction.


1.5 oz. Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum

3 dashes bitters

5 oz. Coca-Cola

Lime wedge for garnish.

The Satisfaction is an easy-to-make cocktail, named for the real-life Captain Henry Morgan's flagship, believed to have been found off the coast of Panama last summer. 

Captain Morgan Black & Honey:


1.25 oz. Captain Morgan Black Spiced Rum

.75 oz. fresh lemon juice

.5 oz. honey

Lemon wedge for garnish.

Featuring Captain Morgan's newest product, Black Spiced Rum, this sweet cocktail is the perfect drink to round out the summer.

If you are celebrating National Rum Day with a large group, the Captain Morgan Black Privateer Punch is a great option, with a refreshing kick.


1 750 ml bottle Captain Morgan Black Spiced Rum

3 750 ml bottles of red wine

1 750 ml bottle of cherry juice

2 oranges, sliced

2 lemons, sliced

2 limes, sliced

1/2 lb. cherries, pitted

1 L Cola


Chill all ingredients. In a large punch bowl, crush the fresh fruit to extract the juices. Combine liquids and add a large block of ice. Serve the punch in wine glasses with pieces of fruit.


Seasons 52's New Personalized Wine Tasting

Ever since I attended the Summer Menu launch event at Seasons 52, I've been a fan of the restaurant and visited on multiple occasions. If you are unfamiliar with Seasons 52, it is a fresh grill and wine bar with a menu created by award-winning Chef Clifford Pleau, inspired by the seasons (there is a new menu every season of the year), with each menu item coming in at 475 calories or less. Seasons 52 also has an award-winning wine list created and developed by Master Sommelier George Miliotes with a selection of over 100 wines, including more than 52 offered by the glass.

Just when I thought my love for Seasons 52 was at a peak, they come out with an amazing deal that I cannot wait to take advantage of.

Daily until 6pm and running through August 31st, Seasons 52 is offering a new, personalized tasting experience! For only $15 per person, you can enjoy the wine tasting by first selecting a flight of three pours. There is a total of eight different wines to choose from (see below), hand-selected by George Miliotes. After tasting the flight pours, select your favorite wine and receive a full glass to enjoy along with a flatbread of your choice. 

Wine selections include:
  • Indaba Chardonnay, West Cape ’11 -a favorite white with aromas of tropical fruit, flavors of apple, pear, and fig, and a touch of oak for a little butterscotch creaminess.
  • Santa Julia Pinot Grigio, Mendoza ’11 -a crisp, clean Argentine with aromas and flavors of lemon, pear, and pineapple with a long, almond finish.
  • Paso a Paso Verdejo, La Mancha ’10/’11 -an innovative wine that’s highly aromatic, with flavors of apple and melon and a hint of lemon and lime at the finish.
  • Selbach Qba Riesling, Mosel ’10/’11- handmade specifically for Seasons 52 by Johannes Selbach himself, a blend of sweet melon, grape, apple, star fruit, and quince flavors and Meyer lemon finish.
  • Anna’s Merlot, Slovenia ’09 -a plummy, ripe raspberry flavor with long, smooth tannins.
  • Mirassou Pinot Noir, California ’10/’11 -a balanced blend of pomegranate, cherry, and red currant flavors, a touch of earthiness, and a silky smooth finish.
  • Wrongo Dongo Monastrell, Jumilla ’10/’11 -flavors of ripe blueberry and rich black currant combine with fine, smooth tannins and a pleasantly mineral finish.
  • Gascon Malbec, Mendoza ’10/’11 -arguably one of the richest, most flavorful red varietals, this vintage is velvety and full-bodied, with flavors of black raspberry,plum, & blueberry, with a powerful yet smooth tannic finish.

Flatbread selections include:
  • Artichoke & Goat Cheese - leaf spinach, balsamic onions, roasted peppers
  • Ripe Plum Tomato - fresh basil, roasted garlic, melted Parmesan cheese
  • Garlic Chicken - balsamic onions, roasted red peppers, mozzarella cheese
  • Spicy Chipotle Shrimp - grilled pineapple, feta cheese, roasted poblano peppers
  • Steak & Cremini Mushroom- fresh spinach, crumbled blue cheese
Artichoke & Goat Cheese Flatbread

Be sure to stop into Seasons 52 and take advantage of this fantastic offering!