Steven Lanza, owner of Ciccio Restaurant Group’s new Fresh Kitchen, selects the Coffee Mole Chile Crusted Tuna from Mise en Place
Tell me about the new Ciccio Restaurant Group concept, Fresh Kitchen.
My brother (Matt) and I travel to California a lot and get ideas and inspiration for new restaurants. This concept came to us about a year ago when we went on a trip. We’ve changed the idea several times. Essentially the idea is fresh, healthy and fast food built on a line. We’ll build bowls with different bases, like quinoa, sticky rice, sweet potato, gluten-free noodles, kale and spaghetti squash. Then we’ll add different proteins, like grass-fed steak, tuna poke or organic chicken. We’ll top it off with various grilled local veggies. The kitchen will be wide open. Similar to like a Chipotle, people will be in and out quick.
I see you’ll be in the old Chavez at Home building. That seems like a cool location.
Yeah, that spot on Howard is a great place to try a new concept like Fresh Kitchen. That location has a good mix of families and should get good traffic with the new apartments.
How did you get into the restaurant business?
When I was a kid, I’d come to Tampa in the summer to bus tables at my dad’s place, Ciccio & Tony’s. I moved down here to go to Plant High School and started delivering and waiting tables. I went to college for hospitality/management and started working in our restaurants. My family gave me a good deal, so I bought into the company. Fresh Kitchen has been my concept, and I’m excited for it to open this summer. We’re going to be doing some different things with our menu.
Why is this dish from Mise en Place one of the best in Tampa Bay?
I love fish, and you know you’re always going to get good fresh fish with Mise en Place. It was hard for me to pick just one dish because I usually get fish when I come here, but this one is just different. It has just stuck with me. Chef Marty changes his menu a lot, but he always gets tuna and does it different. You can tell he really gets into his food.
How are you in the kitchen?
I do more eating than cooking (laughs).
So what’s the best thing you can make?
Breakfast food… eggs and waffles.
What’s one food you won’t eat?
Mushrooms. I love vegetables, but mushrooms freak me out.
What are some ingredients you always have in your kitchen?
Fresh vegetables and chicken; I’m all about fresh veggies.
What are you doing when you aren’t in the restaurants?
I like to play tennis. I played two years at Plant High School, and I just started to get back into it. I like doing yoga, too. It’s good for the mind.
HANGER STEAK (WITH BACON AND EGG)
Fried organic egg, house-cured bacon, baby arugula with Gorgonzola vinaigrette, cilantro chimi churri and house-made white cheddar stone ground grits
Try it: 717 South, 717 S. Howard Ave., Tampa, FL 33606 . For more information, call (813) 250-1661 or visit www.717South.com.