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Old Tampa Steakhouse - can't remember name

  • m

In the early 70's there was a steakhouse in downtown Tampa that you entered by going down a flight of stairs because they were in the basement of a buildling. They had been around for many years by that time and the place was rumored to have been a Mafia hangout so the prices were kept very reasonable. Does anyone remember the name of the place? I had my wedding party there and the name totally escapes me. Thanks.

  1. In talking to one of my friends who is a longtime Tampa resident said they think you are talking about The Turf Restaurant. I have a call to one other source and will let you know if that is not right.


    5 Replies
    1. re: RibDog

      Well, I have received better information on your question.

      The restaurant was Licata's and yes it was rumored to be a mafia hangout.


      1. re: RibDog

        ahh yes, the Licatas. They had a few businesses in the area, including the Seabreeze and the Flaming Sword.

        Tony L. testified about his dirty deals with Sheriff Hugh Culbreath (known as "Melon Head" to the gangsters, who had nicknames for everyone) when the Kefauver Committee came to town. Tony was heavily involved in Bolita, the numbers racket in Tampa that was eventually run by the Mafia, with laundering courtesy of the Tampa/Hillsborough PD. The money funded the election campaigns of many politicians over the course of about 50 years.

        I wrote a litttle chapter on this called "Bolita, Bag Men, and a Raw Deal," in the Seabreeze Cookbook. The restaurant, by the way, is due to shut dfown sometime in the coming months, and food is still fabulous.

        1. re: andy huse

          It was Licata's.... I had an office in that new Paragon building across the street. They demolished the building eventually so Licata's is but a distant memory

          1. re: andy huse

            Where can I get a copy of your cookbook?

            1. re: jord9801

              call Helen Richards 913-626-5849.

      2. It was (indeed) 'The Turf'. It had a racetrack theme. We had dinner there more than once.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Lanny

          You are wrong, it was Licatas. the turf was on ground level and down the street. I know because I am married to one of the cousins.

        2. I worked in downtown Tampa in the 70's at Tampa Photo Supply and remember those steps.....my recollection is that it was Licata's, but somewhere in my brain I associate the same area with a steakhouse named The Turf.....may have been the same place at different times?

          1. okay, different family, same name. But i'm certain of the info i gave above, just a different set of Licatas. I didn't mean to insult your family.

            Tampa's mafioso past is a documented fact, and has nothing to do with Hollywood.

            2 Replies
            1. re: andy huse

              Are you talking about Santo Trafficante's Steakhouse? That could be it.

              1. re: steakman55

                not that i know of. in any case, i plead the 5th.

            2. It was definitely Licata's Steakhouse. I was their liquor supplier for many years and my mother was their head bartender in the 60s and 70s. She also was the head bartender at the Shipwreck Lounge inside the Colonnade on Bayshore for many years, until she retired in the 80s. Joe (the boss), Sonny (the pro boxer) and the rest of the family. I was seldom treated better by any of my customers., than I was by Joe. it was the most difficult delivery I ever had due to the long flight of steps. I'd load 5 cases (12 bottles each) of whatever wine or liquor he requested onto my hand truck and walk down the long staircase. The best part was that it kept me in pretty good shape! The bar/restaurant was underground, in the basement of the building. Joe even made me a meal every time I was there. On the other side of the building was the Turf, another customer of mine.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Tampanative

                True enough, it was Licata's Steakhouse. The Turf was ground-level and great place to eat lobster (or was it shrimp?) bisque for lunch one day a week (when Vern would prepare it). The Turf was owned by the late Frankie Scanio and they had a great bartender named Margie.

                1. re: Tampanative

                  When did it close down??? I am pushing 40 and have been here the vast majority of my life never heard of either the turf or licatas. Seabreeze, on the other hand....

                  Seabreeze Restaurant
                  5075 Okeechobee Blvd, West Palm Beach, FL 33417

                  1. re: Tampanative

                    Perhaps someone familiar with the Tampa area back in the 70s can help me with a problem that's been haunting me ever since I moved down to South Florida two years ago. Back in 1974 (I believe) I drove down to Tampa from Connecticut with a good friend and remember an area of the city that I recall as being beautiful, (modern at that time) and very vibrant with activity. I remember a restaurant that had a large fish tank right at the entrance that you can see from the sidewalk - it was probably a saltwater tank because of its size. This area (and restaurant) impressed me to the point that I made a vow to move to Florida one day - which I did. Does ANYONE remember this restaurant and immediate area I'm referring to. It is very possible the restaurant may no longer be there. Thanks in advance for ANY clues to my decades old mystery!

                  2. It was LIcata's. Turf Restaraunt was around the corner on Jackson Street (actually Licata's started there and then moved). When growing up we ate there almost Saturday night...we sold many a box of Girl Scout cookies there. Loved the restaurant, and a waiter named Richard (ceasar salad was fantastic!).

                    1. Licatas was famous for their method of serving steaks. I know the answer....

                      1. Charlie O's is the best for steaks if you eat meat! I am a vegan and dh is a meat man so he says that this place is juicy and good... i prefer natures food patch! clearwater fl

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Moonlight Skywriter

                          What is Charlie O's? Never heard of it.