Living up to your dad's legacy can be tough when your dad was George Steinbrenner's go-to guy. Malio Iavarone often hosted "The Boss" during his tenure as the Yankees manager, serving him steaks at the original Malio's Steakhouse on South Dale Mabry. Today, Malio's son Derek works to produce similar hype at a new, swankier location in Rivergate Tower, where the one-word difference in the venue's name—"Prime" hints at the USDA Prime beef cooked within—belies the recipes’ faithful adherence to tradition.
Each steak, from the New York strip to the filet, receives a simple yet meticulously scattered dash of salt and pepper. Couples can even go all-out with a 40-oz. prime porterhouse for two, admittedly a more filling romantic dinner than catching and swallowing each other’s blown kisses. Aside from tender cuts of beef, the menu at Malio's boasts lamb and veal chops as well as lobster tails and Chilean sea bass cooked several ways, including blackened, Theresa-style, and pan-fried.
Like the patrons who like their steaks rare, Malio’s Prime Steakhouse seems enamored with the color red. Broad red columns stand between the windows overlooking the waterfront, and framed works by Joe Testa-Secca—Art Professor Emeritus at the University of Tampa—hang over the crimson semicircular booths. The reds from a list of more than 200 wines complete the motif.
Tender, juicy, delicious—steak is nature’s reward to those at the top of the food chain. Today’s Groupon—good at the Gallagher’s Steak House in Tampa—gets you $75 worth of steaks, seafood, and beverages for $29. An offshoot of the historic New York flagship restaurant, this Channelside location pays homage to the original with a no-nonsense, meat-and-potatoes approach to fine dining, foregoing unnecessary trappings like overpriced meat barometers and crystal salad spoons."P'raps if we should find the culprit, the baron'll feed us handsome at the wedding! It'll be cakes an' steaks f'r us, me lad!"
Taverna Opa serves up a bounty of authentic Greek cuisine within a channel-side bistro that evokes the sun-soaked colors of the Mediterranean. During dinner, placate pyromaniacal palates with fire-kissed flavors, including spit-fire-roasted lamb with thyme, rosemary, oregano, and garlic ($18), wood-fire-grilled filet-mignon medallions topped with roasted tomato and served with lemon potatoes and asparagus ($23), or skewered shrimp kebabs marinated with lemon and orange zest, garlic, and white wine ($18).
The Bricks serves up a menu of unconventional comfort cuisine in a laid-back, edgy setting. Taste-bud-teasing starters such as the kinky tuna, a wasabi pea and pistachio crusted ahi, seared rare and topped with lemongrass cream ($12), segue finely into main courses such as the bird and pig sandwich, which nestles its tastily terraformed layers of roasted chicken, bacon, brie, crispy apples, and agave nectar between Hawaiian sweet bread ($8). Alternately, the amsterdam clothes a naked baguette with a delicious ensemble of crunchy organic peanut butter and melted, smoked gouda ($5). Feel free to customize your own crusts by mixing and matching breads, spreads, and toppings at the peanut butter bar ($3–$4.50).
At Big City Grill Co., patrons can experience metropolitan life without journeying far from home. The eatery reconstructs American dining by presenting a menu packed with signature foods from throughout the country, like Hawaiian honey-glazed chicken and Boston fried shrimp. Additionally, the dining areas capture urban life with black-and-white cityscape murals, subway-car replicas, and tourists shuffling around the room asking each other for directions.