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Ciccio, Brunetti partner on fast-casual pizzeria slated for St. Pete

Margie Manning



Ciccio Restaurant Group has partnered with restaurateur Jason Brunetti to launch a new Italian dining division.

Their first concept, a fast-casual pizzeria called Jay & Luigi, is scheduled to open in July at 3201 4th St. N. in St. Petersburg. The site previously was home to Burger 21.

The space will be designed to invoke a visit to Italy, with indoor and outdoor seating, a news release said.

Jay & Luigi mushroom bolognese

The restaurant will blend modern and traditional Italian cuisine in a casual setting with healthy ingredients and an emphasis on plant-based options, according to the release.

The menu will feature two styles of pizza as well as hand-made pastas, unique plays on traditional Italian small plates, cauliflower rice bowls and fresh salads.

Jay & Luigi kale sale

Jay & Luigi is named after Brunetti as well as Luis Flores, executive chef of CRG, the news release said.

Brunetti was the co-founder of Forbici Modern Italian in Tampa and co-owns New York’s Brunetti Pizza with his father. His team at Jay & Luigi includes Forbici’s former executive chef Jason Saldutti, who has also been the executive chef for Brio, and Forbici’s former director of operations Norma Elizalde, who brings significant experience in hospitality, restaurant operations and technology.

Ciccio Restaurant Group is one of the largest independent hospitality groups in Tampa Bay. Its concepts include Fresh Kitchen, Taco Dirty, Green Lemon and Daily Eats, among others.

Related: Ciccio Restaurant Group’s On The Fly food hall prepares to open

“This partnership is based on a passion not only for amazing Italian food, but for providing excellent service and exciting new experiences for the Tampa Bay residents who inspire us,” Brunetti said in the news release. “Listening to our customers and giving them what they want is what drives us all to be better, and that’s what we are striving to accomplish, starting with Jay & Luigi.”

James Lanza, founder of CRG, said Jay & Luigi was inspired by the original Ciccio & Tony’s, which opened 30 years ago in New York City and evolved into CRG of Tampa.

James Lanza, founder of Ciccio Restaurant Group, at On The Fly at 4447 4th St. N.

“There’s some good Italian in the Tampa Bay area within the high-end and chain-driven niche. We would like to bring a restaurant concept to this market that we feel is very underserved — a cool, healthy trattoria style of Italian that our guests can eat several times a week either with us or in the comforts of their own home,” Lanza said.

When it opens, Jay & Luigi will follow all measures for social distancing and sanitation recommended by CDC and local officials, the news release said. To-go and delivery options will be available, with an emphasis on convenience and safety with touchless technology and contactless curbside pick-up.

CRG plans to continue expanding Fresh Kitchen, with five new locations in the works, as well as Cali, Taco Dirty, Sweet Soul and Jay & Luigi. The group also is in the process of bringing a smaller-scale version of Green Lemon, currently in Tampa’s SoHo, to St. Pete’s 4th Street this fall. 

1 Comment

1 Comment

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    Mike Draught

    May 17, 2021at3:11 pm

    Whatever happened to the Daily Eats concept in St. Pete? It was supposed to share space with Fresh Kitchen on Fourth, but instead they decided on that Better Byrd, I think, initially due to parking issues, which later were addressed.

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