Traditional Italian cooking meets the south at Noble Crust, a new restaurant in St. Petersburg.
“We really wanted to do something Italian, but we wanted to have a different edge on it. Make it a fun, really hip place to hang out,” said TJ Thielbar. He and John Mays are the men behind the restaurant. The two also were members of Bonefish Grill’s founding team.
Another goal was to create a value-oriented menu: high-quality food within an affordable price. Guests won’t find anything on the menu that costs more than $20.
Dubbed “Seasonal Italian with Southern Soul,” Noble Crust features items such as Smokey Braised Short Ribs with Heirloom Tomato and Ricotta and Wood-Fired Pizza with Country Ham and Arugula.
The kitchen, headed by Chef Rob Reinsmith, has a focus on locally grown, seasonal ingredients. Reinsmith said one of the best sellers on their menu is Pimento Cheese Arancini, a deep-fried Italian riceball with pimento cheese.
“It’s taking something that is extremely Italian and something that is extremely southern, which is pimento cheese, and putting those things together,” said Reinsmith.
Dishes are made from scratch, including pasta, gelato, cured meats and cheeses. The restaurant features a full bar with craft beer, about 50 bourbons and whiskeys, more than 30 vodkas and 23 gins.
Mays said one of the things they’re especially proud of is the restaurant’s fresh-barrel wine club. Noble Crust offers eight wines, including Adobe White, Simi, Hess Shirttail Creek, Franciscan, Adobe Red, Saintsbury, Smith & Hook, and Long Meadow Ranch.
The restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating with a patio that features a retractable roof with air conditioning and heaters so customers can enjoy it year-round.
“We’ve done the seafood, we’ve done the American grill, and we wanted to venture this way with the pizza,” said Mays. “It grew into something more than we anticipated in the early days. It really grew into something quite large.”
Noble Crust, at Fourth Street and 83rd Avenue in St. Petersburg, is open Tuesday through Thursday, 4-10:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 4-11 p.m.; and Sunday, 4-10 p.m.; noble-crust.com