Cipresso Italian Restaurant now open at Seminole Hard Rock Tampa

Monday, December 23, 2019
Over the last few years, Seminole Hard Rock Tampa has gone through a massive 700 million dollar renovation. My husband and I watched all the changes happen in front of our eyes. There are plenty of new restaurants and elevated experiences to check out while visiting Tampa's only Casino, but our new favorite is Cipresso, Hard Rock's brand new Italian restaurant featuring menu items inspired by old-world classics to new favorites.
While I love going to Hard Rock's Council Oak Steakhouse for one of the best steaks you can find in the state, most of the time a dish of homemade pasta or hand stretched pizza is all I want. Pair that with a glass or two of Italian red wine and I'm a happy girl. .
Margarita Pizza
Since Cipresso opened a few months ago, it has quickly become our most frequented restaurant in the Bay area. It's elegant while affordable and always delicious. I strongly suggest the margarita pizza ($14), Cacio e Pepe ($19), assorted antipasta ($15-$21). If you go with a group of people, get a few things and share family style (their Lasagna is big enough to feed a small army).
Squid Ink Pasta with Uni and Unit Butter
Everything we've tried on the menu has been beyond impressive. Cipresso also has nightly specials which also worth checking out. We took my parents a few weeks ago and the pasta special was homemade squid ink pasta with uni and uni butter. It was one of the most incredible dishes I have ever consumed.
Bistecca alla Fiorentina (Bone-In Ribeye)
If you want to sit in the main dining room, I strongly suggest making reservations (regardless of what night of the week it is). There's always the option of sitting at the bar which offers full service.
Nonna's Meatballs
A few weeks ago, Cipresso's Bar started offering Social Hour, from 3pm-6pm. You will find select glasses of wine and craft cocktails along with pizzas and appetizers offered at a reduced price. On Sundays, they are going family style with Cipresso Sunday Supper where for $45 a person, you will get a 3 course meal with wine pairings.
Homemade Pasta with Fresh White Truflfes
Cipresso Hours: Monday, Thursday & Sunday, 5pm-11pm and Friday & Saturday, 5pm-Midnight
Cipresso Bar Hours: Monday, Thursday & Sunday, 3 pm-Midnight and Friday & Saturday, 3pm-1am (Social Hour 3pm-6pm)
Cipresso is closed Tuesday and Wednesday
Cannoli and Limoncello
If you find yourself at Cipresso, I strongly encourage you to end your meal with a glass of homemade Limoncello and Cannolis. I would never usually be one to suggest a Cannoli for dessert, however Cipresso's are unlike any I've had in the past. Trust me!
Homemade Tiramisu
Be sure to follow Seminole Hard Rock Tampa online to be kept in the loop for all it's exciting changes, live shows and special events!

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Brunch at Haven, Tampa Bay

Sunday, December 22, 2019
Last week, one of my best friends from Daytona came into town for the John Travolta & Olivia Newton John Grease Sing-a-Long in Tampa. After a late night out, we found ourselves Sunday morning with one goal - brunch and adult beverages. It's been quite a few years since Darlynn last visited Tampa and I knew exactly where to take her to  Sunday Brunch - Haven in South Tampa.
A few months ago, Haven introduced Sunday Brunch and invited a few local influencers to check it out. As always, Executive Chef Chad Johnson knocked the brunch menu out of the park. Where else can you eat brunch with an offering of over 60 cheeses and drink a cocktail named after Kelly Kapowski (more on that below)?
Foie Gras French Toast
Lobster & Avocado Causa
Haven's Brunch menu has a wide variety of unique options. Everything from Foie Gras French Toast to Hangover Fried Rice, I promise you that anyone will find something to kick off their Sunday Funday in spirit.
Tri Tip Steak and Eggs with Kimchi Hollandaise 
Ahi Tuna

Loco Moco
One of the best dishes I tried was the Loco Moco, a dry aged ground beef served over sticky rice and a sunnyside egg.
Broiled Oysters
There's an entire section of the menu dedicated to sausage and bacon. I'm talking to you Bacon eggrolls! I never imagined myself dining on a dish of oysters... followed by Corned Beef & Potato Pierogies.

In terms of adult libations, this past trip, I stuck to bubbles (a glass of Ste Michelle champagne is only $6) but the quarterly drink menu was themed after Saved by the Bell!! My last visit - it was Sex and the City (Cocktails in the City). The Saved by the Brunch Cocktail menu includes all our friends - Kelly Kapowski (cucumber vodka, strawberry, fresh lemon), The Screech )Milagro Silver Tequila, Grand Marnier, Velvet Falernum, lime, prickly pear), Jessie Spano (Hendricks Gin, watermelon, lime, thyme, absinthe), A.C. Slater (Old Forester Bourbon, Averna, white peach, lemon, mint), Lisa Turtle (Champagne & white peach puree), Zack Morris (George Dickel bottled in bond 13yr, fresh pineapple, orange, coconut, lime, nutmeg).
Also worth noting, Haven was one of the first restaurants in the Tampa Bay area to be a certified Ocean Friendly restaurant!

You can find Haven in off Howard Ave: 2208 W Morrison Ave, Tampa

Thank you Haven for hosting me for Brunch. As always, all opinions are my own.

New Social Hour Menu at Council Oak, Seminole Hard Rock Tampa

Thursday, December 5, 2019
If you haven't been to Seminole Hard Rock Tampa over the last 2 months, you will be in for quite a surprise on your next visit. I can't say enough about the amazing job they did on their $700 million expansion. It's not quite complete though, as more stores and restaurants will be opening soon (Sugar Factory, I'm looking at you!).
Although a lot has changed at Hard Rock, including the Social Hour menu at Council Oak Lounge.  Council Oak Lounge is one of our favorite places to grab dinner. While we love sitting down for a meal inside of Council Oak, it is more of an upscale experience where the lounge is a bit more relaxed. You can listen to live music and it's also the perfect location for people watching. Last year, Council Oak announced their first ever Social Hour, their take on Happy Hour, and made it available 7 days a week. It's almost unheard of to find a Happy Hour over the weekend in Tampa, especially of Council Oaks caliber.
Years ago, before there was a Social Hour, Council Oak had a lounge menu. It wasn't publicized like a happy hour and it was almost a hidden secret. Social Hour took place of the lounge menu and although it was exciting to see a 7 day a week discounted menu, it removed most of the classics to introduce new flavors. When the new Social Hour Menu was released, I think I jumped for joy, as the Council Oak Burger was brought back! There are some new stars such as Japanese Wagyu Carpaccio. You can also get a 8oz filet mignon with sides for $40, which is a great deal at Council Oak.

We had the opportunity to check out the new menu the other night. Council Oaks Social Hour menu is available 7 days a week from 3pm-6pm and you are able to use Seminole Wild Card Comp Dollars on the promotion.

Social Hour Bites
Wagyu Carpaccio
N.Y. Strip Sandwich and Truffle Fries
Council Oak Bacon $14 (Frisée & Green Apple Salad, Balsamic Reduction)
Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail $21 (Horseradish Cocktail Sauce)
Japanese Wagyu Carpaccio $15 (Black Peppercorn-Champagne Vinaigrette, Grated Manchego, Maldon Salt)
Tuna Tartare $15 (Avocado, Lemon, Cucumber-Radish Salad, Grilled Ciabatta)
Caesar Salad $11 (Caesar Dressing, Shredded Parmesan, White Anchovies, Croutons)
Council Oak House Salad $11 (Salami, Prosciutto, Bacon, Tomatoes, Egg, Mozzarella, House Dressing)
Council Oak Prime Burger $22 (8 oz. Dry-Aged Prime Beef, Fried Egg, Truffle Parmesan Steak Fries)
N.Y. Strip Steak Sandwich $25 (Sautéed Mushrooms & Onions, Brioche Bun, Truffle Parmesan Steak Fries)
Beef Tenderloin $40 (8 oz, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Asparagus)

Social Hour Drinks
Improved Manhattan
Vanilla Paloma $10 (Camarena Tequila, Velvet Falernum, Vanilla, Lime Juice, Grapefruit Juice)
Improved Manhattan $10 (Bulleit Rye, Sweet Vermouth, Tawny Port, Walnut and Chocolate Bitters)
Council Oak Oak Rum Runner $10 (Monkey Spiced Rum, Monkey Coconut Rum, Banana Liqueur, Guava Nectar, Pineapple Juice, House-Made Sour)
Red Sangria $10 (Orange Vodka, Orange Liqueur, Guava and Peach Nectar, Pineapple and Lime Juice)
Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc $10 (Marlborough, New Zealand 2018)
Mer Soleil Reserve Chardonnay $10 (Monterey, Santa Barbara, Sonoma, California 2017)
Meiomi Pinot Noir $12 (Monterey, Santa Barbara, Somoma, California 2017)
Vina Cobos Felino Malbec $12 (Mendoza, Argentina 2017)
J. Lohr Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon $12 (Paso Robles, California 2016)
Cigar City Brewing Jai Alai IPA $5
Stella Artois $5

Thank you Seminole Hard Rock Tampa for hosting Gabe and I to experience the updated Social Hour menu at Council Oak. As always, all opinions are my own.
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