The grandiose Mahaffey Theater is set to become even more of a destination with the opening of Sonata, a fine-dining restaurant that will be managed by Ted Dorsey, who was previously the head chef at The Mill.
Located at 400 1st Street South, the restaurant will initially have a seating capacity of 300. An outdoor patio area will be added in 2024.
“Something like this really hasn’t been done in the United States before,” Dorsey said, speaking to St. Pete Rising. “Under one roof, we’re going to have the trifecta of performing arts, visual arts, and culinary arts.”
Sonata’s menu, Dorsey said, will differ from The Mill’s cuisine, focusing mainly on “coastal seafood and prime steaks and chops,” with some dishes having a southern inspiration.
He added, “We’re serving a beautiful Australian wagyu at an affordable price point where everybody can enjoy it. We’ll be doing daily and weekly features, but it will be more fine dining, much more refined. I’m excited to create some unique things that people haven’t seen here.”
Sonata will offer freshly caught seafood daily, Dorsey said, adding that he’s working with a Madeira Beach-based fishmonger who operates a 32-strong fleet of long-line fishing boats.
“I’m really trying to showcase more of the beautiful, fresh ingredients we have right here, while also enjoying some of the flavors from around the world,” Dorsey said. “Our fish house is right down the street — a 12-minute ride each way up and down First Avenue.”
Starters range between $18 and $32 and include plates like the Braised Short Rib Eggrolls which is served with smoked gouda, pickled onions, and a spicy bang bang sauce. The jumbo lump crab cakes are also expected to be a favorite and are being served with a roasted corn tomato fingerling succotash.
As for other starting courses, the menu features an array of East Coast oysters and seasonally dressed salads.
Entrees start around $40 and include the Key West Pinks which are fresh Florida shrimp served with chili cheese grits, collard greens, and a creole yellow tomato puntanesca along with the Seared Diver Scallops which include hearty scallops served with a goat cheese polenta, mushroom tomato tagout, and a smoked tomato processco cream.
The Chop House menu features several Australian wagyu options, from ribeye to tenderloin, and a signature tomahawk ribeye for two.