Sophia’s Cucina to close, but a new Italian concept will take its place

Exterior of an old building with green, pale, and orange bricks
smith and associates

Sophia’s Cucina + Enoteca, a popular restaurant in the Grand Central District, will close its doors this spring and pass the keys to Nando Silvestri, who will rename the restaurant Matteo’s.

Sophia’s is one of the most popular restaurants in St. Petersburg. The team behind it also own and operate Lolita’s, a widely acclaimed wine bar and restaurant that serves up the most decadent charcuterie boards in the city.

A bittersweet message to St. Pete

On March 30, the owners sent a message to their loyal patrons to break the news that Sophia’s would close.

“It is with bittersweet emotions that we announce that we are dimming the lights of Sophia’s Cucina + Enoteca,” wrote Chef Alex and Kelly Rodriguez. “We have the opportunity to pass the keys of 2363 Central Avenue to Restauranteur Nando Silvestri, who will be maintaining an Italian concept in the space.”

His restaurant will be named Matteo’s, after his son.

The owners fully intend to keep the name and concept of Sophia’s intact.

“The past 12 months have led most businesses, small and large, to evaluate their go forward strategies. This decision allows us to concentrate on the growth of our other exciting businesses.”

Focusing on Sammy + Paco’s

That new business is the anticipated Sammy + Paco’s at 2735 5th Avenue North.

“In mid- April, we will officially open the long-awaited Sammy + Paco’s Market Cafe located at 2735 Fifth Avenue North with it’s Baked Goods, Breakfast & Lunch Cafe and Grab & Go Prepared Foods.”

The 5th Avenue North location is also the home of Lolita’s Catering + Events. Lolita’s Catering + Events is now collaborating to bring their flavorful menus to some incredible partners.

These preferred partners include The West Event Space (preferred caterer), The Saint SP, InstaPicnic Company and most recently Tide The Knot Beach Weddings.

Lolita’s continue to serve St. Pete

“Our original Lolita’s Wine Market with the new private space The Tasting Room at Lolita’s located at 16 18th Street South are fully open for Carryout and Dine In service with Call Ahead Seating” note Alex and Kelly in their message.

Chef Alex and Kelly Rodriguez finished the message with these tender words for Sophia’s, their customers, and their neighborhood:

“We appreciate the support and love our local Kenwood community, the Grand Central District, and the City of St. Petersburg have provided us and our teams. We truly love how Sophia’s connected us with so many amazing guests and hope we can reintroduce it in the future. Until then, we look forward to seeing you at one of the Lolita’s or Paco + Sammy locations soon.”


Written by Andrew Harlan

Andrew Harlan

Andrew Harlan is the Editor of Follow him on Twitter @harlanyoungII and Instagram @harlanyoung. Send tips and potential stories to