Food is a hobby to me. I think that’s pretty evident. Therefore, I may enjoy grocery shopping more than the average person. A well-known Italian market that I love, Mazzaro’s Italian Market in St. Pete, is a fun day trip for me. When I heard a just-as-epic market recently opened, also in St. Pete, I knew I had to see it.
My dad and I are the bigger foodies of the family. We’re the ones on family vacations asking where we’re eating dinner, while we’re eating breakfast. We’re the ones that get hangry when we haven’t eaten in a couple hours. So, while my mom and sister took a trip to the outlet mall on Sunday, my dad and I headed to St. Pete to check out Locale Market.
Locale was created by two well-known, experienced chefs, Chef Michael Mina of Northern California, and Chef Don Pintabona of NYC. After spending some time working in Miami, Mina had a longing to operate a ‘passion project’ in Florida. Pintabona had previously been the executive chef at Robert DeNiro-owned restaurant, Tribeca Grill in New York City. He graduated from USF with a degree in business, and later went on to study at The Culinary Institute of America.
The market is an amusement park for foodies, with a butcher shop containing a plethora of meat options, including dry aged beef aged between 40 and 60 days, a coffee shop, a bakery, a cheese and salami section, a market pantry, a produce section, an ice cream/gelato shop, a seafood selection, and a wine bar and restaurant upstairs.
Oh, and an Italian food section where they hand make pasta, sauces and sandwiches, and serve to order.
Upon entering the garden section, you notice signs above each refrigerated area noting which farms provided which vegetables. Locale hand-selects their offerings from their favorite farmers and producers, and only provide the freshest ingredients.
My dad and I took a little while to simply explore before pulling out a couple of carts and grabbing a few items.
We ventured upstairs to see what the restaurant, FarmTable was all about. The concept is pretty simple: their mission is to ensure that everything on your plate came from a farm, and that you know what farm it came from. The bar was gorgeous with long counters and beautiful rustic features. I felt like I was in Napa.
Upstairs also featured a bakery, wine bar, knick knacks for sale and an outdoor seating area with a fantastic view. I can’t wait to come back for dinner soon.
We went back downstairs and walked up to the coffee counter and began chatting with one of the cashiers. Her name was Red, and she was the sweetest lady. My dad was hungry, you know since it had been a whole two hours since breakfast, so he asked her what she would recommend from the grill.
She recommended the BBQ Salmon Burger. He ordered, and we walked over to the seating area to wait for his sandwich. For some reason it was not packed at all. I had read that it can get pretty crowded, so I was happy. The seating area was very nice. Lots of natural light, unique decor and a great view of the market.
The BBQ Salmon Burger is complete with a grilled salmon fillet with sweet BBQ sauce, a ginger aioli, kimchi, lots of cilantro and a spicy gochujang hot pepper sauce. The bun was perfectly warm and just crispy enough to hold the slightly overflowing juices. Naturally, I pleaded for a bite. It was one of the best things I have ever eaten. Seriously. It was bursting with intense flavor, I was sad I couldn’t eat it in it’s entirety. One thing I was a little thrown off by was the fact that it’s labeled a salmon “burger”, so I was expecting it in patty form. Nevertheless, it was amazing.
When my dad was finished with his sandwich, we decided to get a couple of coffees to sip on. I opted for an almond milk latte, while my dad ordered a shot of espresso, short. This was actually the first latte I’ve had using almond milk, and it was perfect. The shopping carts had little cup holders on them, so I sat my latte in the cup holder and began shopping.
I will say, this market is certainly upscale. There are items that are right on-price, and other items that are definitely a splurge. For instance, the meat section will surely hurt your wallet. My dad chose to try an alligator sausage and a couple bison burgers. I stuck with produce and decided to finish grocery shopping at our local grocery store later that day.
Yes, alligator sausage. We grilled it as part of our dinner that night, and it was sensational. I’ve actually had alligator before, but I don’t think the batter-doused fried gator bites at Gator’s Dockside technically count.
I had such a good time just feeding my curiosity in this store. I love looking at what markets like this have to offer. The interior was gorgeous, the people were extremely nice, and I love the idea that they want to serve the community and maintain the concept of farm-to-table. I often wonder how sustainable this is, but regardless of that question, it’s really nice to have places like this nearby (ish).
I was the crazy photographer lady hoisting my Canon around with me like a second purse, so of course I want to share the remainder of the photos with you all. Thankfully, like I said, there weren’t many people there at the time, because I’m definitely one who gets embarrassed taking pictures in public. Especially of food.
We actually said YOLO and bought a pound of the octopus salad pictured above. I featured it on my Instagram last night! It was the first time I had an octopus salad where the octopus had previously been grilled. You could taste the char- it was juicy and delicious.
Is there a local market in your community that practices farm-to-table?
What’s your favorite fresh market splurge?