TAMPA, Fla. — Casa Santo Stefano is the newest member to the Columbia Restaurant family located in Ybor. Guests can enjoy authentic Ybor Sicilian food in what used to be a macaroni factory is the early 1900s.
"Ybor Sicilian is basically...Sicilian food but with an American flair," said Alessio Selleri, executive chef for the restaurant.
Casa Santo Stefano imports many of its ingredients from Italian and serves of a variety of Sicilian dishes like Insalata D’Arance (a popular salad made with blood oranges, arugula and lemon vinaigrette), Cartocciata Crab Enchilado (a traditional street food dish that's similar to a calzone, stuffed with blue crab meat and spicy tomato sauce) and Aunt Lily's Caponata (classic eggplant dish tossed with roasted garlic, tomatoes and olives and served with Muffulettu bread), as well as some classic Italian American favorites like bolognese and lasagna.
There are many traditional Italian desserts like gelato, tiramisu and house-made cannoli with chocolate chips, candied citrus and pistachio.
The restaurant is owned by the Gonzmart family. Richard Gonzmart, 4th generation owner of Columbia Restaurant Group, worked with the Tampa Sicilian community to create this restaurant, asking them for family recipes for the menu and family pictures for the decor. They also incorporated a lot of lava stone into the tables and counters to give the space an authentic Italian feel.
"I think it's a beautiful restaurant, it has a very nice...open concept," said Selleri. "So it's fun even just for a quick lunch and to admire all the art work and...atmosphere in the restaurant."
If you're just looking for a light bite, you can check out Casa Santo Stefano's rooftop bar, Santo's Drinkeria. With both indoor and outdoor seating, you can take in views of historic Ybor as you enjoy delicious cocktails, cigars and small plates. Check out the menu here.
There is also a throwback to Bennie's Barber Shop, which was open in Ybor in the 1940s. Complete with the original cash register and restored barber chair, this little corner of Santo's Drinkeria makes for a great photo op.
Casa Santo Stefano is located at 1607 N 22nd Street. It shares it's parking lot with Columbia Restaurant, so you don't have to worry about paying for parking. The main dinning room is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and the rooftop bar is open from 5 p.m.–10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5 p.m–11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, no reservations required.