ST. PETERSBURG — The Iberian Rooster is no more, but a new fast-casual restaurant is opening in its place from the same owner.
Avo’s Kitchen, a build-your-own-bowl concept specializing in Goan cuisine, will open on Sept. 8.
Owner Russell Andrade was forced to close the Iberian Rooster in March, part of the statewide shutdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Instead of reopening, he decided in June to close completely while he worked on renovating the Central Avenue space into a more pandemic-friendly quick-service concept.
The new restaurant is a nod to Andrade’s own heritage and is inspired by his grandmother, who helped design the majority of the menu.
Andrade says he saw the restaurant as an opportunity to expose St. Petersburg diners to the cuisine of Goa, a coastal state in western India and a former Portuguese colony.
“It’s not traditional Indian food,” Andrade said. “There’s a lot of pork and a lot of seafood.”
Sorpotel, a thick and spicy pork curry, was Andrade’s favorite childhood dish and is featured in several of the signature bowls, including the Avo’s Combo ($14), which comes with rice, lentils, coconut chicken, sorpotel and a chili coriander tamarind chutney. Andrade’s grandmother, who is from Goa but currently lives with his parents in Georgia, traveled to St. Pete this summer to help train the chefs to cook her family recipes.
Andrade settled on a build-your-own bowl theme for the restaurant, a fast-casual schtick that he knew Tampa Bay diners were already very familiar with. The menu also features a good number of vegan options, like the It’s Pronounced VAIGEN bowl ($14), which comes with cauliflower rice, mixed greens, chana ross (a white pea curry), curried cauliflower, herbs, chickpeas, tamarind chutney and avocado.
Other signature dishes include the Crunchy Chick ($14), which features brown rice, lentils, curried chicken salad, crispy fish, tamarind chutney, herbs, chickpeas, onions and cilantro, and the Prawn Stars ($13), a crusty bread bowl stuffed with shrimp curry, green sauce, chickpeas and onions.
With the menu pivot comes a physical reboot, too, and the restaurant now features an assembly-line ordering format where guests pick and choose from a menu and pay before sitting down. The interior space, which can seat 78 people, is now down to 35. Outside, the seating has doubled — from 20 to 40 seats.
The one thing that hasn’t changed much is the bar, Andrade said, though he suspects some menu tweaks will take place over the next couple of months.
Avo’s Kitchen will be open for lunch and dinner, Tuesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
475 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. (727) 258-8753. avoskitchen.com.
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