Iron Chef America judge and restaurateur Donatella Arpaia has frequented St. Petersburg, Florida since the launch of her signature food and homeware products on Home Shopping Network.
“I love getting away from the concrete jungle of Manhattan and being greeted by that warm, salty breeze in St. Pete,” she says. “It’s the perfect weekend getaway for a New Yorker—especially in the winter months.” Last weekend, Ms. Arpaia was in St. Pete to participate in Enjoy Arts & Tastes, a three-day arts and culinary festival. Here, she shares her favorite local spots.
The Club at Treasure Island
“For a romantic experience, The Club at Treasure Island is amazing. One year, I spent Valentine’s Day there with my husband. We had a lovely dinner and then ended dancing the night away. The food is impeccable. I specifically recall the rock shrimp risotto being one of our favorite dishes of the night. Chef Paul Liptak knows how to work the kitchen. Not to mention his staff was outrageously friendly and talented as well.”
400 Treasure Island Causeway, Treasure Island, (727) 367-4511, theclubti.com
Council Oak Steaks & Seafood
“If you’re craving a good old steak, Council Oak Steaks & Seafood at the Hard Rock Casino serves one of my favorites. While I love their steaks, the thing that really impressed me was their flaming dessert. You can close your eyes and imagine it. It consists of vanilla ice cream, Heath bar crunch, and is rum flambéed tableside. The dessert is rich and tasty and the theatrical presentation is a perfect way to end the night with friends.”
5223 Orient Rd., Tampa, (866) 762-5463, seminolehardrocktampa.com
The Canopy Rooftop Lounge
“The Canopy Rooftop Lounge at Birchwood Inn is one of my go-to drink spots in St. Petersburg. The staff is very hospitable and their mixologists are masters. They really know how to make unique concoctions that you can’t find anywhere else. It also has that swanky “New York City” atmosphere, that is sometimes hard to find outside of New York, but with an added bonus of beautiful views of both the water and downtown St. Petersburg.”
340 Beach Dr., St. Petersburg, (727) 896-1080, thebirchwood.com/the-canopy.html
“I was introduced to this restaurant through my close friend who is Greek. She’s a true connoisseur of the cuisine, so I knew immediately it was going to be an authentic Greek experience and indeed it was. Skidders is a family-run casual Greek diner. It is a no frills type of place, but with their affordable and extensive menu, it is a place where you can go, order anything, and you will be happily satisfied. Personally, I recommend the moussaka, but you can’t go wrong either way.”
5799 Gulf Blvd., St Pete Beach, (727) 360-1029