Sonata: An orchestra of flavors at the Mahaffey (PHOTOS)  

In the vibrant tapestry of St. Petersburg’s culinary scene, a new symphony resonates at the Mahaffey Theater with the grand opening of Sonata Restaurant. Sonata is the combined vision of Bill Edwards and Chef Ted Dorsey, creating a multi-sensory experience where the culinary arts dance in harmony with the visual and performing arts. 

Bill Edwards, the chief executive officer of Big3 Entertainment – the company that operates Mahaffey Theater, has been a longtime supporter of the arts through the Bill Edwards Foundation for the Arts. The theme of the new restaurant is embodied in the restaurant’s name, Sonata, a nod to the rhythmic and melodic elements of music and cuisine.

In a blend of artistic expressions, the Bill Edwards Foundation for the Arts collaborates with the Imagine Museum, infusing the space with awe-inspiring artwork. A prime example is the moon exhibit, a 23-foot fabric sculpture lit from within, showcasing NASA’s lunar imagery, created by Luke Jerram of the United Kingdom. This piece, a permanent loan from Trish Duggan, founder of St. Petersburg’s Imagine Museum, symbolizes the fusion of visual and performing arts, enhancing the theatrical backdrop of Sonata.

At the heart of Sonata’s culinary journey is Chef Ted Dorsey, a maestro in the kitchen with a rich repertoire of culinary experiences. A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, Dorsey has a history of crafting menus at establishments including Mise en Place, Ciro’s Speakeasy Supper Club and The Mill. Dorsey says, “At Sonata, it’s not just about crafting dishes, it’s about crafting emotions.” 

Like many chefs, Dorsey participates in several culinary fundraisers each year, including Fork Fight for Feeding Tampa Bay, Food Fight for Metropolitan Ministries and Frogman Feast for Navy Seals. Right before opening Sonata, Dorsey stood out, among over 40 competing chefs, vying for the “Crowd Favorite Chef Award” at the Frogman Feast. 


The bar at Sonata offers a unique collection of libations, including the Opening Night and Desert Flower. The Opening Night, a blend of Hendricks gin, Combier Pasteque, a watermelon liqueur, lime, sugar and cucumber bitters, is a refreshing toast to the arts. The Desert Flower, with its intriguing mix of Corazon Repo Tequila, elderflower, prickly pear puree, lime and a hint of jalapeño tincture, offers a bold and exotic taste that complements the culinary adventure. Each expertly crafted libation is an ode to the multidimensional artistic realms found at Sonata.

A feast for the eyes before they even touch the tongue, the Charred Calamari, Wagyu Beef Tartare and Braised Bone Marrow appetizers are edible works of art. Each plate is a meticulously crafted composition, showcasing vibrant colors, textures and flavors. The Charred Calamari artfully arranged atop the rich lobster sauce tantalizes the tongue with unexpected flavors. The Wagyu Beef Tartare, a decadent masterpiece, is adorned with the golden glow of fried quail egg and the deep crimson of foie gras vinaigrette, served alongside slices of a grilled fresh baguette, with the perfect dollop of caviar. These are not mere appetizers, they are edible poems.

Choosing between surf and turf can be the most challenging decision when it comes to the main course at Sonata. The Wagyu Beef is celebrated for its unmatched marbling and flavor. The seafood options, including the Blackened Red Snapper, Seafood Mac and Cheese, Braised Swiss Chard and Crawfish Étouffée, are equally exceptional, ensuring a memorable dining experience. The sweet end to the symphony of flavors is Bananas Foster Cheesecake, a sumptuous and indulgent dessert that combines the flavors of Bananas Foster, a classic New Orleans dessert, with the creamy richness of cheesecake.

Sonata at the Mahaffey Theater is not just a restaurant, it’s a symphonic blend of the arts. From the visual splendor of the Moon exhibit and the glass artworks from the Imagine Museum to the culinary masterpieces of Dorsey, every element converges to create an unforgettable experience. Sonata’s symphony of flavors is elevated by the belief that every dish should evoke a sense of connection and emotional resonance. ♦

LOCATION: Sonata |  400 1st Street South, St. Petersburg

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