Slightly off the beaten path in St. Pete, you’ll find a cozy restaurant filled with unique locally sourced dishes that are free from gluten, soy, peanuts, corn, refined sugars and oils, but filled with love, passion and purpose. Owners Debbie DeVico O’Neil and Ron O’Neil opened Sol on January 12, 2022 in the Warehouse Arts District on a mission to create a conscious culinary experience for the community.
Meet Debbie and Ron
Debbie grew up in an Italian home that centered around a love of food, respect and community culture. It wasn’t until later in life that she realized some health problems she was having were due to various food allergies deriving from the exact foods she loved so much growing up. She began immersing herself into holistic health and nutrition. She started helping others around her facing similar problems so they could also build sustainable lifestyles. While on this path, she became a certified nutritionist and started offering conscious culinary classes and working as a private chef.
Her husband Ron has a background in business management and has opened gyms, food and nutrition stores in the Tampa area. Unfortunately the gym he managed had closed down because of COVID, but he was quickly approached with another opportunity.
Sol Bistro Came to Life
The former owners of the space that featured the bright Puerto Rican restaurant, WEPA, approached Ron with an opportunity to bring Debbie’s culinary experience and restaurant concept to life. After taking some time to think about the impact of this decision on herself, family, and community - she was all in! They both jumped right into cleaning up and transforming the space. The vision was to create an elevated cozy ambiance, with an inclusive menu focused on a slow dining experience.
Award Winning Menu
Debbie focuses on using her culinary gifts to create rotating menu items based on local seasonal availability. Everything is made from scratch. She has won two Open Table awards already since opening in January. She creates healthy versions of favorite dishes without leaving her customers feeling like they sacrificed something. Groups with meat eaters, vegetarians or food allergy sufferers can come together and all find something they’d love to eat. As a person with gluten and corn allergies myself, I felt so relieved when I saw the menu and could eat everything on it!
To get your imagination and appetite going, check out their instagram page that features beautiful photos of some menu items.
Benefits of Farm to Table
Did you know that purchasing kale from your local farmer can cost you a fraction of what it does at the grocery store and will last you weeks? By the time produce gets to your grocery store it is about three to four weeks old. No wonder you have to use it in a few days! Debbie and Ron source ingredients from local farmers not only to create healthy dishes for their customers, but to support the local economy and sustainable farming practices.
As many businesses and restaurants faced supply chain issues for menu items this year, Sol never had shortages because they bought everything locally. From their perspective it is the easiest way to buy and it works perfectly for a small batch evolving menu. They have actually built such great relationships with some of their local farmers and co-op owners, that a few of them work at Sol on the weekends. Every piece of the restaurant puzzle is filled with intention and alignment.
Debbie and Ron have a lot of ideas for Sol in the years ahead. Most immediately they’re planning some pop up collaboration dinners at the farms they source ingredients from. It will be an amazing opportunity to witness sustainable farming practices in action and brought to life in healthy delicious meals. It will be an opportunity to see where your food comes from in the St. Pete/Tampa area.
They also have ideas to create a Sol After Dark experience where the restaurant will be transformed into an intimate lounge atmosphere.
Where to Find Them
Sol St. Pete Bistro is open Wednesday through Saturday from 5 -10pm. As they gain traction and popularity, you will need a reservation for a table about a week out. They are located right next to 3 Daughters Brewing at 2149 3rd Ave South.
Listen to our full conversation on my podcast St. Pete Soul that goes into more detail about biodynamic farming practices and some of their favorite things to do around the St. Pete area!