Wine Dine and Play: June 2016


A great “Experienz"
St. Petersburg, Florida, USA
Cuisine Style: New American
Average Price: $$
Overall Rating: 5/5
Dined in: February 2016
By Sean Overpeck (CFE)
**A full article and index glossary of restaurants, wines, recipes and travel for 
Wine Dine and Play are in the pages section above, or by following these links:

Z Grille Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Executive Chef:
Zack Gross

A note to the reader…

What happens when you blend Dr. Pepper; a Texas soft drink created in 1880, with pork spareribs? The answer is meat candy and you can get them at Z Grille, and it doesn’t stop there. Open for lunch and dinner plus brunch on the weekends in downtown St. Petersburg, a small restaurant with a capacity of around 50 with about 10 on the sidewalk patio and “The Last Fiesta!” What is that you say? Well, you will have to go and find out.

It had been a wonderful past thirty days prior to having Brunch at Z Grille, and this restaurant added to that wonder, as I was flying back to the Middle East to work, so it was the perfect food to have before returning. During that month I proposed to my wife, and we traveled and participated in wine festivals in Key West, and ate a lot of excellent restraints across all of Western Central Florida. 

When doing my research for this article, I also discovered that USA Today rated Z Grille in the ten best food spots of Tampa and St. Pete. Chef Zack is an award-winning culinarian with James Beard behind his belt, and owner to a wonderful downtown eatery. The menu is inspired by New American with a latin/Mexican flare to the dishes. Speaking of Latin I’ll ask again, what is the “The Last Fiesta?” Make sure you ask when you go in and they will point it out. As long as you're not super religious with no sense of humor, then you won’t be offended by it. Z Grille is open for lunch and dinner plus a brunch menu and for reservations, you can use the Seat Me system by Yelp. The menu is broken down by the following:

Lunch & Dinner:

    • First Bites
    • Get Roughage
    • Mains
    • Desserts

The menu is also labeled for allergens like gluten-free and vegetarian but I didn’t notice any other allergen warning signs like nuts or shellfish.

My wife and I arrived for a later brunch before going to the airport for me to fly out. We started with some wine, and one of her favorite varietals being Sauvignon Blanc, she ordered a glass of the 2015 St. Suprey from the Dollarhide Estate Vineyards of Napa. According to the winemaker's notes, it has aromas of grapefruit and exotic green lime that are joined by a delicate thread of pear and a smoky note of new French oak. Opulent grapefruit, lime, and lemon citrus flavors meld together with the seductive toasted qualities of the barrel maturation. The result is a full, rich mouthfeel along with a subtle creaminess from the extended aging achieved through sur-lie maturation. I stayed at red as I enjoy white wines, but don’t drink them as much as I do reds. I enjoyed a glass of the Row 11 Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley. I first had Row 11 back in 2012 and wrote an article on it plus two later articles on another wine from them, plus using one of their wines as the base for a red wine Demi-glace recipe. So when I saw it on the menu and hadn’t had any since 2013, I wanted to take advantage of it. Red cherries, lighter smoke and hints of bacon with all the finesse and elegance expected in Russian River Pinot Noir’s along with mild tannins with heavy oak, and a moderate finish.

We were eating lite, each having a selection and sharing, so my wife had the Dr. Pepper fried ribs which on the menu is advertised as meat candy, sprinkled with sesame seeds. Boy oh boy was it ever meat candy, and absolutely fantastic. My wife even mentioned later on that when we do our rehearsal dinner if we could get these ribs as part of a catering they were so good. (As an update, we ordered these and other items for catering at our wedding.)

Dr. Pepper fried ribs

To go with the ribs she ordered a side of Brussel sprouts roasted with Nueske bacon, san Marcona almonds, and shaved manchego cheddar cheese. Nueske is a company based out of Wisconsin that since 1882 has provided top of the line applewood smoked bacon as well as many other types of meat to include seafood and poultry. 

Brussel sprouts with bacon

Feeling like I was back in Charleston, South Carolina, I ordered the Shrimp and Grits, served with andouille sausage, applewood cheddar grits, jalapeños, topped with a sunny-side-up egg, and pico de gallo. It was yummy.

Shrimp and Grits

Other items of interest on their menu include a selection of three or six deviled eggs, with from what I’ve been told have a devil of a spice. A Juan Stamos chili-infused lamb burger, with jalapeño goat cheese, sliced cucumber, roasted garlic tomatoes, on a brioche bun, with herb fries and a half-pound foie burger; 70/30 brisket/ribeye blend, with caramelized onions, Nueske bacon, roasted tomatoes, La Belle Farms foie gras, garlic mayo, on a brioche bun, with truffle fries. You can also order it Z Style by adding pork belly & egg. Finally, you can also order a “buy the kitchen a round of beers” which consists of four Tecate lights when their shift is over. 

So…..What is “The Last Fiesta?”

A Chat with Chef Gross:

So let us get behind the scenes of Z Grille and see what the man himself has to say. Chef Gross has worked in Kitchens since 1994 washing dishes at a catering company. He went to the California Culinary Academy in San Diego back in 2000, becoming a chef, then later moving to St. Petersburg in 2003. He and his wife Jennifer opened the First Z Grille in 2005, then changed to its current location in 2008. When I asked about his future goals the answer was to simply be financially successful, raise their daughter and not get divorced.

When I asked about the menus he says that he changes them whenever he gets bored with them and that a few items of great success on the menus would be the deviled eggs and the ribs. One area of improvement that he would like to concentrate on for Z Grille is better training of the staff, and a strong motto to his front of the house is “If you wouldn’t eat, don’t serve it” and “Speak to people like you would like to be spoken to.” Training is tuff he says and when it comes to further education such as allergens that customers may have, he will, of course, accommodate most of their dietary restricts but that customers also need to be more pro-active in knowing their restrictions, and bringing that to the attention of either the host, server, or notes online when making the reservation. I could not agree more. 

With the notices he has on the menu, the customer just needs to read the menu and let the staff know. If the customer does not inform the staff then you will have issues like  Mohammed Khalique Zaman the owner of the Indian Garden restaurant in North Yorkshire, the United Kingdom who killed a patron who had a nut allergy. When it comes to personal stories or experiences in the restaurant Chef Gross mentioned that he got to meet the members of Sublime and have since become friends with them and a couple other bands that have stopped in.

Please see these guidelines for Tipping in Restaurants and on following proper etiquette, customs, cultures, and avoiding assumptions when you dine out.

Wine regulatory’s for the tastings in this article:

United States: 

Other Noteworthy New American Articles and Restaurants:
Alinea Highly creative new American molecular gastronomy tasting menus in Chicago, Illinois 
Brick and Mortar Rustic-chic new American dining in St. Petersburg, Florida
Bridge Street Bistro Third Floor terrace Seafood Centric New American dining, Bradenton Beach, Florida 
Cat Cora's Kitchen Organic New American Tapas Restaurant in Atlanta Airport Terminal A 
Chill Restaurant & Bar New American Cuisine, tapas, and exotic cocktails in St. Pete Beach
Ciro's Speakeasy & Supper Club Prohibition-themed New American cuisine in Tampa, Florida
Harvest Moon Café Farm-to-Fork Daily changing new American fare menu in Sonoma, California
Jekyll Island Seafood Company, New American Seafood Restaurant, Atlanta Airport, Atlanta, Georgia
Lobby at Twelve Boutique hotel bistro, new American, and Southern favorites at Atlantic Station, Atlanta 
Moshulu New American dining on a restored ship in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Samantha’s Restaurant Mellow new American fare in North Canton, Ohio 
The Mad Hatter Waterfront upscale new American cuisine on Sanibel Island, Florida 
The Mill Restaurant New American fare with a southern spin in St. Petersburg, Florida
Zinc Bistro and Bar Southwestern-inspired new American fare in San Antonio, Texas

See the whole list by visiting “The Wine Dine and Play Article Glossary

Other St Petersburg restaurants and articles on Wine Dine and Play:

Old-school English-American Eatery
St. Petersburg, Florida, USA
Casual LGBT bar and burger joint
St. Petersburg, Florida, USA
Modern café-tavern chain with Greek eats
St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

A Few Florida Favorites:

Fine-dining waterfront spot for grilled fish and steaks
Indian Shores
Gourmet Organic Taqueria Street Food
Anna Maria, Florida, USA
Old School Rustic Tuscan
Native American Cuisine w/Barbacoa Grilling
Stylish chophouse chain with surf ’n’ turf
Brandon, Florida USA
Clearwater Beach
Italian-inspired seafood at the Opal Sands Resort

See the whole list by visiting “The Wine Dine and Play Article Glossary by country

Final notes, review basics, observations and more pictures:

Most reviews are subjective, depending on the writer; but they should also be responsible, and respectfully written, upholding the truth, and accurately conveying the experience to the best of the writer's knowledge, even if it includes metaphors the restaurant may not like to read about. My ratings are by the stars I award (from 0 to 5). The rating is calculated on a point accumulation of six separate factors based on individual experience. They include wine and other beverage selections, plate presentation, customer service, restaurant or café ambiance, food quality, and wow factor. To see more details of this rating list, read this article:

Overall from this experience, and the score factors outlined in the ‘about page’ section, based on my individual experience and rating, I give Z Grille a 5 out of 5 stars, meaning that they not only exceeded my expectations and were far above the average dining experience of most restaurants, but they surpassed outstanding and were extraordinary.
Scores are detailed in the factor chart below:

Formula Factor Conclusions and Overall Ratings
Max Points Possible:
Total Points Awarded:
Total Points deducted:
Food quality
Plate presentation
Customer service
Alcohol and other beverages
Total regular points awarded
Total percentage Before Bonus


“Wow” factor BONUS
Total bonus percentage


Total percentage with a bonus for the final star rating


Stars Awarded (see chart below)
             0 - 5

**A full break down and explanation of the observations and point disbursement is available in the linked article above. To receive a detailed copy of your score, feel free to contact me at any time and I will provide it to you.**


Overall Star Rating:
5 of 5 Stars: 
100% Rating with a 3 point “wow” bonus
An Extraordinary Dining Experience
Wine rating:
5 of 10
Old World selections: 
France, Italy, Spain

New World selections: 
California, Chile, Oregon
Corkage fee’s:
This Restaurant does not list any corkage fee’s however, most American restaurants charge 
$25.00 per bottle
Restaurant style:
Casual dining
Cuisine style:
New American
Allergen or dietary accommodations: 
Farm to Fork, Local, Pescatarian, Sustainable, Vegetarian Options
Not Required, But Recommended
Accepted, but not guaranteed
Dress code:
Casual attire
It’s Florida, everybody wears flip-flops!
Child policy:

The Restaurants reviewed on this site may have a kids menu or cater to them; however, for full enjoyment of food and wine, it is recommended that kids not to be in attendance, unless they have been trained in proper etiquette. 
If not then:
Hire a Babysitter! 
Place for foodies, Contemporary, Modern, Trendy, Hotspot, Great brunch, Classy, and a Neighborhood Gem.
Cash, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express
Street meter parking
The restaurants reviewed on this site may have Wi-Fi, but do not require you to go online, because the excitement of the food and wine alone will keep you too entertained instead of checking your social media and emails.
Noise level:
Low to Medium
Nonsmoking restaurant, and nonsmoking patio
Patio or terrace:

Food Prices 
(excludes, alcohol, taxes & 20% gratuity’s)

$£€¥ -                Under 50.00 (inexpensive)
$£€¥ x 2 -          51.00- 99.00 (moderate)
$£€¥ x 3 -          Over 100.00 (pricey)
$£€¥ x 4 -          Over 200.00 (expensive)
$£€¥ x 5 -          Over 400.00 (very expensive)

**Currencies reflect the world’s major travelers, restaurant, or wine connoisseur’s**

United States Dollar (USD)
Great Britain Pound Sterling (GBP)
Canadian Dollar (CAN)
Chinese Yuan (CNY)  
European Union (EUR)

 Alcohol prices:

$43.00 USD

Z Grille:

104 2nd Street South
St. Petersburg, Florida

Contact Information: 
Restaurant website:
Maître d or host:
+1 (727) 822-9600
Serving hours:
Eastern Standard Time
(GMT, Zulu, or UTC - 5:00)
11:30 am - 9:30 pm
11:30 am - 10:30 pm
Brunch: Sat-Sun
10:30 am - 3:00 pm
Social Media 
Facebook Link                

The worlds best restaurants is a subjective list of who is writing it and changes on a regular basis. The Wine Dine and Play best experiences are based on my highest rated stared restaurants, meaning that the visit was an outstanding or extraordinary experience. From cafés, chains, mom + pops, hole in the walls, to fine dining including a few Michelin spots. Visit the Top 100 page to see the entire list.

A few to tease you with…

Landmark Mexican Restaurant
Austin, Texas, USA
Traditional Spanish & Cuban chain since 1905
Ybor City & Sarasota, Florida, USA
Acclaimed soul food spot for fried chicken 
New Orlean’s, Louisiana, USA

Other Pictures:

Assorted deviled eggs
Foie gras
Rumchatta french toast
The last fiesta 
Wine storage

“Culinary perfection consists not in doing extraordinary things, 
But in doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.”

-Angelique Arnauld (1591-1661)

Who is John Galt?


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