Three Tampa restaurants joined the ranks of Michelin-Starred eateries in Florida, as the 2023 edition of the Michelin Guide Miami, Orlando and Tampa was announced Thursday night at LoanDepot Park.
Koya, Lilac and Rocca all received one star from Michelin. There were four Stars awarded in Florida, three of them in Tampa.
Lilac received a special award for outstanding service, in which Matthew Braden was acknowledged.
“Florida has three distinct culinary hotspots that make the state a premier destination for gourmet travelers who can experience a wealth of flavors and creative cooking styles,” said Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the Michelin Guides. “We are especially happy to announce three one-Michelin-star restaurants in Tampa – Koya, Lilac and Rocca – and a new one-Star restaurant in Miami Beach: Tambourine Room, by Tristan Brandt. Congratulations to these restaurant teams and to all who received Guide distinctions. Your guests are always in for a treat.”
Here are the new Michelin-Starred restaurants, with inspector notes from each, per a statement from Michelin.
Koya (Tampa, Japanese cuisine)
“Adriana and Eric Fralick keep a watchful eye over the experience, at this intimate eight-seat counter, where a multicourse contemporary tasting menu shares a singular interpretation of Japanese cuisine. The dishes are often unexpected yet always thoughtful. Spectacular seafood is a given: staple luxuries like bluefin tuna and uni are flown in, weekly, from Kagoshima market, where the team has a personal buyer. Instead of the typical parade of nigiri, dishes offer unique combinations of Eastern and Western culinary sensibilities, as in the beet- and vodka-smoked salmon macaroon or a chutoro hand roll with wasabi guacamole. The meal ends memorably with desserts like yuzu ice cream topped with Hokkaido uni and a sprinkling of caviar with lime zest.”
Lilac (Tampa, Contemporary cuisine)
“Situated in the sleek and oh-so-stylish Edition hotel, this concept from John Fraser is a popular spot with in-demand reservations. The small space has a sexy vibe, albeit not a stitch of lilac in sight. Peruse the contemporary four-course prix-fixe with Mediterranean influences, Florida-focused ingredients and French techniques. A meal might include luxe bites like a Diver scallop infused with rosemary smoke and dramatically served under a cloche to well-executed and flavorful lobster feuillantine. Main dishes include Ora King salmon with a Florida stone crab salad or Colorado lamb chop with tender leeks and house-made lamb sausage. Cocktails and wine are on offer, but Lilac has upped the ante when it comes to tableside service with a champagne cocktail cart. (Yes, please!)”
Rocca (Tampa, Italian cuisine)
“Chef Bryce Bonsack blends his New York know-how with Italian training to great effect in this of-the-moment eatery. Naturally, there’s an assortment of pastas, skillfully made in house and showcasing classic flavors and scrupulous technique, as in spaghetti al limone, tossed with knobs of blue crab and lemon, shaved garlic and zucchini. Guests gush over mozzarella hand-pulled to order in a tableside cart, but the flavor outshines the show. Perhaps most exciting of all are the displays of originality, as in a vibrant hiramasa carpaccio with green apple, capers and horseradish; and dessert is a delightful bookend to an impressive meal. Basil custard topped with an elegant brunoise of fresh apples and a layer of streusel is spot-on in every way.”
All told the anonymous Michelin Guide inspectors awarded stars to 19 restaurants, with L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon Miami remaining atop that list with two Michelin Stars. The 2023 selection comprises 144 restaurants and 38 types of cuisine.