One of the Best Dining Experiences in Tampa Bay

“The Maritana Grille offers you an incomparable dining experience you won’t forget.”

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the truth.

A few months ago I was elated when I checked my daily Living Social email and found a deal for The Don Cesar’s prestigious restaurant, Maritana Grille. Automatically recounting all of the amazing reviews I’ve heard about their service and food, I didn’t think twice about purchasing the deal.

Those few months flew by and before I knew it we only had a few weeks left before the deal expired. So I made our reservation and eagerly awaited. Last night was the night.

The guy and I love fine dining experiences. Everything from dressing up nice to the exceptional service to the creative food. And Maritana Grille was an experience in itself.

Even though I’ve lived in the area for over 5 years and even work on St. Pete Beach (at a resort no less) I have never stepped foot into The Don. Seeing the big pink building up close is impressive and entering the doors for the first time was exciting. You get free valet with a dinner reservation and the valet and doorman were both polite and accommodating.

There was some renovations going on in the lobby so I didn’t get to see the full effect, but I love the old world feel of the lobby bar with a piano player and glistening chandeliers.

Maritana Grille is smaller then I actually thought it would be, but very well laid out. I love the fish tank when you first walk in, although I wish they had a tank in the middle of the room so you could peacefully watch during your meal. The high ceilings and the minimal decorations suited the space well.

It took us awhile to finally choose a wine…there are 400 of them! We weren’t thrilled with our final choice (a Rodney Strong red) but it did pair well with our meal. Didn’t add much to it, but didn’t take anything away.

We started our meal with an amuse-bouche that light and crisp in flavor. I truthfully cannot remember what it was, but it was a great start to a memorable meal. My appetizer was the Seared Sea Scallops with a pineapple confit, Serrano ham and veal reduction. The plating was beautiful and simple and made me not want to eat it. But those perfectly seared scallops called my name. This was by far my favorite part of the meal. All of the flavors went perfectly together…the scallop with the hint of pineapple and the crunch of the ham was heaven. The guy had the Duck Wontons, which were equally as good. Duck pulled and placed into a folded crispy thin wonton and served with shaved asparagus.

In between our appetizer and entree we were given a palate cleanser, which consisted of champagne sorbet. My second most favorite part of the meal. I even commented that I wanted a gallon of this stuff in our freezer right now. Such a light and slightly fruity taste…it’s exactly what you want on a hot, steamy day.

My entree was the Sous Vide with Florida Red Snapper. Served with green onions, jasmine rice and encircled by drizzles of red curry. The fish was flakey and exceptionally fresh tasting. I ran it through the curry for the perfect bite. The rice was rice, and I’ve actually had better rice. But I didn’t get too hung up on it since the highlight is , of course, the fish. They served a big piece too! I was getting full at this point and almost couldn’t finish. Almost 🙂

The guy enjoyed the Cast Iron Grilled Ahi Tuna which was chock full of organic vegetables including artichokes and cauliflower puree. The ahi tuna was perfection and I claimed him the “dinner winner”.

Dessert was a feast for the eyes. We shared the Keylime Bavarian Reveal which came encased in a thin white chocolate egg-shaped dome. The server lightly poured a raspberry puree over the dome and I watched in awe as the chocolate broke free from it’s dome shape and separated into large petals around the plate and thus “revealing” the main dessert housed inside. Absolutely beautiful. There were many different flavors going on…a keylime type of cake on top of a meringue, with a small scoop of orange sorbet on the top. Then the white chocolate, strawberries and puree. They all blended very well together, but was almost too much.

As we finished our wine the lights dimmed for a romantic glow and we relished in the truly memorable meal we just enjoyed.

With the price, I’m not sure when the next time we’ll dine there will be. I would definitely like to visit again just for drinks since their cocktail menu was also quite impressive looking.

Conversation Starter: What was your most memorable meal?

2 thoughts on “One of the Best Dining Experiences in Tampa Bay

  1. Hi there! I found your blog today from CNC.. my family lives in St Pete but I have been living in Columbus, OH the past few years for school. I’m graduating from OSU this weekend though, and moving back home to St Pete next week. To say I’m excited is an understatement!

    I love the Don – brunch there for special occasions is seriously such a treat. Sounds like Maritana Grille was amazing!

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