Food & Dining Restaurant Review

Aqua Prime Steak & Seafood – Chef Jason Vargo

Luxury Living Tampa Bay

The sound of music wafts from Aqua Prime’s patio as patrons nibble apps andsip wine while catching
up on what’s new in Indian Rocks Beach. Thanks to Aqua Prime’s culinary maestro Chef Jason S. Vargo, one of the season’s highlights is the new menu, wine list and crafted cocktails.

Want sizzling steaks and succulent seafood? Aqua Prime in Indian Rocks Beach is the best!

Chef Vargo has  been a chef for 24 years and at 38, his passion for food and ingredients drives this stellar new menu. Now owned by Premier Event Hospitality Group, the casual but upscale restaurant is garnering rave reviews—especially the chef.

Chef Jason has a passion for perfection, and his attention to detail shows in his menu. “We’re about Sea To Table, with Primals on the booze block, Being a part of the community and using local vendors for fresh produce and ingredients is part of our foundation,” says Vargo proudly.

SEA TO TABLE MENU – Aqua Prime Steak & Seafood
Beautifully plated, the savory dishes are fun and approachable as is the casual chic vibe in both the
restaurant and bar, where no one is a stranger. Aqua Prime is a chef-driven restaurant, with Vargo in charge through three sets of ownership. “I have put my heart and soul into Aqua Prime and everything in the current restaurant are changes I’ve implemented with my team –new plates, glassware, new candles, fans, the remodeled bar, the building paint, landscaping, the revised logo menu, interior
décor with new lighting,” says Vargo proudly. “I want the experience to be memorable…the ambience, the service and especially the food.”

SMOKED FUSION COASTAL CUISINE – Aqua Prime Steak & Seafood
The new menu reflects his hands-on approach, creative ideas, locally sourced ingredients and expertise in creating consistently delicious fare that’s unique on the beach. “With this menu, we have evolved our menu. One day I saw a opportunity where smoke fusion was lacking on the beach, and came up with tagline “We are A Smoked Fusion Coastal Cuisine,” just enough smoke to elevate certain dishes to make you want more,” says Chef Jason.

“Everybody does some form of compound butter right?, I like to say we do it right, brisket trimmings and fat, smoking it for 13 hours, rendering it down and folding it into whipped butter with fresh herbs & garlic. After grilling each cut of meat placing it on every steak that leaves our kitchen. This showcases my passion on the plate.”

Sourcing ingredients is a passion for Chef Vargo. His food is fried in non-GMO Sunflower Oil, which he stands by strongly. The diver U-10 Sea Scallops are fresh from Connecticut. The Norwegian Salmon is flown in from Iceland and he uses Wild-Caught North Atlantic Cod, a favorite of his.

He recently flewto Wooster OH to check out the test kitchen for his Certified Angus Beef, that he has been using since he opened the restaurant, visiting local farms where they raise the cattle which is held to very high standards. He also uses cage-free brown eggs, heirloom tomatoes and micro-greens . One of
his favorite items you’ll see on the menu is Wild Red Argentina Red Shrimp that “tastes like baby lobster, with a little earthy taste in my opinion.”

LUNCH IS SERVED – Aqua Prime Steak & Seafood

You can go light with yummy salads like the coconut crusted salmon salad or watermelon goat cheese.
Seafood lovers will enjoy the house-smoked local amberjack fish spread, pan-seared scallops in a
coconut curry sauce or crispy blue crab cake with the arugula kiwi mango salad. Spice it up with spit fire wings or smoking chicken.

The Fish Tacos, Brisket Beach Burger and Smoken’ Irma Burrito with truffle mad and cheese will drive you wild. For the purist, order the English-Style Fish & Chips and herb fries or the Tampa Bay Cuban, the best on the beach. The AP Gourmet Burger with smoked sriracha bacon and gorgonzola cheese is hands down a burger for the ages.  Add a side of brisket beans and rice or sweet potato waffle fries or save room for dessert, especially the white and dark mousse cake or crème brulee cheesecake.

EARLY BIRD MENU – Aqua Prime Steak & Seafood

The Early Special menu for only $14.50 is a great deal featuring coconut crusted North Atlantic Cod, Smoked Brisket, Local Amberjack, Norwegian Salmon, Chicken Piccata, Wild Red Argentine Shrimp or Certified Angus New York Strip all come with a choice of side and a biscotti cookie with whipped cream
for dessert.

DDinner starts at 3 pm daily. Some of the same appetizers grace the menu, but best bets include the PEI mussels in a citrus lemon butter sauce, the Pina Colada shrimp, Angus beef carpaccio or smoked meatballs. The signature IRB fish and white bean chowder is back, but the Asian inspired ginger and chicken rice soup is stellar.

Good luck deciding on the beef, from T-bone to prime rib, filet mignon or Argentinian Coulotte steak, the meat is perfectly seared and accompanied by creative sauces. The bone-in pork chop is brined in rosemary and herbal teas then chargrilled and served with a port wine gorgonzola fondue.

There’s lobster, sea bass and yellowfin tuna, but Chef Vargo’s grouper and salmon are best of show. Ask for a side of the Signature Dijon garlic cream or smokey red Argentinian chimichurri.

SETTING THE BAR HIGH
With a full liquor bar and friendly mixologists, you can choose signature cocktails, craft beers , domestic or import bottle and the boutique wine list showcases global vineyards both domestic (California, Oregon) and international (New Zealand, Italy, Argentina, Spain). Dessert drinks like the key lime or chocolate
martini and afternoon delights like the Ruby Slipper (Deep Eddy grapefruit vodka, St. Germain Elderflower) or Mango Mojito to take the edge off the day.

Chef Jason is proud of Aqua Prime’s service team and works tirelessly to train them about the new dishes, and ingredients as well as drinks. Cultivating a culinary posse is key to running a good restaurant, says Vargo, giving props to his Sous Chef Luke Subramaniam who he calls “the pillar in my kitchen,” and has worked with Jason for three years.

His dishes are inspired by his childhood, living on a rural seven acres of land and raised with farm to table with gardens, livestock, hogs, chickens, goats and cattle. His mother cooked dishes from scratch using family heirloom recipes dating back three generations. His father taught young Chef Jason how to cure and smoke meats as well as grinding and making their sausage.

Aqua Prime Seafood & Steaks 
213 Gulf Blvd., Indian Rocks Beach
(727) 330-7724
AquaPrimeFlorida.com
Lunch: 11 am – 3 pm
Early Specials: 3 pm – 5:30 pm
Dinner: 3 pm – 10 pm
Happy Hour Daily: 11 am – 6 pm
Live Music: 1 pm – 4 pm & 6 pm – 9 pm

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