(Swah-Rey) A Sweet Idea

There is no denying it, we all have that little voice inside our head that yearns to satisfy our sweet tooth. For the most part, we are becoming more disciplined and healthier (slowly, but surely), however, when I do treat that inner child of mine and indulge in a delicious delicacy, I want it to be worth it. A dessert needs to be fresh, made with love, and darn good for me to cheat on my healthy lifestyle and indulge in a sweet treat. There is a husband and wife team who have created a dessert bar right here in beautiful Downtown St. Pete. (swah-rey) is located at 2105 Central Avenue and it is well worth a visit for date-night, a daily dose of espresso, or a different place to plug in for work.

Gregg and Leslie-Ann Ciccone decided to cater to our cravings and opened (swah-rey), the only dessert bar in town, at the end of 2015. (It’s pronounced soirée, from the French word meaning an evening party).

Chocolate Salted Caramel cake slice - only at (swah-rey) in Downtown St Pete. Photo courtesy of Douglas Johns Photography
Chocolate Salted Caramel cake slice – only at (swah-rey) in Downtown St Pete. Photo courtesy of Douglas Johns Photography

What can you expect when you visit this adorable local business? Firstly, get ready to be greeted with a friendly smile and open arms. The Ciconne’s intent was to make people happy and they wished to design a space that was homey and comfortable. Well, they accomplished that with a relaxing atmosphere that offers different seating options from booths and tables, to leather recliners, and even a bar made out of bowling alley lane floors (how cool?!). Most likely you will spot Gregg in the kitchen baking up a storm and the lovely Leslie in the front of house. (I was lucky enough to meet Gregg’s mother, Marlene, who has lived in St. Pete for thirty years and is incredibly proud of her son and daughter-in-law’s newest venture! – She’s a doll).

The atmosphere at (swah-rey) is comfy cozy!
The atmosphere at (swah-rey) is comfy cozy!
Up-cycled bar top at (swah-rey) made out of bowling alley floors
Up-cycled bar top at (swah-rey) made out of bowling alley floors

What about the actual dessert choices? Simply put – everything is to die for and you can taste that all of the sweets were made with love. When you are served a cute fun-sized Mini or full-sized piece of cake, the whole world stops and it is just you and the treat. (For me, it was love at first bite!) They give you the option of having a “Mini Hookup,” which is pairing your mini with a “shot” of milk, espresso, beer, wine, or champagne (mmm, nothing like giving into temptations). These little ones have been a crowd favorite across the board (they have already sold thousands!).

"Mini-Hookups" only at (swah-rey) in Downtown St. Pete. Photo courtesy of Douglas Johns Photography
“Mini-Hookups” only at (swah-rey) in Downtown St. Pete. Photo courtesy of Douglas Johns Photography

Speaking of espresso, The Ciccone’s managed to get their hands on an award-winning espresso machine (there’s only one other like it in The States). Of course they serve locally roasted coffee from Kahwa so that you can enjoy only the best espresso drinks every time you visit (swah-rey). Bring your computer if you need to get some work done because there are strategically placed outlets and USB plugs all over the restaurant for you to have an easy and energizing work environment!

The award-winning La Cimbali M100 Espresso Maker paired with Kahwa Coffee makes the perfect drink every time!
The award-winning La Cimbali M100 Espresso Maker paired with Kahwa Coffee makes the perfect drink every time!

(swah-rey) located in Downtown St. Pete

Not into coffee (or working)? Perhaps you fancy a craft beer or glass of wine. The selection at (swah-rey) comes from local vendors and microbreweries. With hours that dip into nightlife on some evenings, this place is a great stop to wrap up or kick off a night out on the town.

Leslie-Ann and Gregg Ciccone, owners of (swah-rey) in Downtown St. Pete. Photo courtesy of The City of St. Petersburg
Leslie-Ann and Gregg Ciccone, owners of (swah-rey) in Downtown St. Pete. Photo courtesy of The City of St. Petersburg

Gregg and Leslie-Ann Ciccone have only lived in Saint Petersburg, Florida for about a year and a half, but the city is growing quite fond of this sweet couple. He has been infatuated with restaurants and food his entire life (growing up in an Italian family of entrepreneurs sure did give him a head start in the art of a good meal) and she has a background in air traffic control. Married for about five years now, I suppose you could say that their relationship and business has really taken flight. While they are proud of maintaining traditional male and female roles in the restaurant, the two truly make a great team and have created a business that feels like walking into their home. Leslie-Ann will even allow you to take their plates home with you as to not mess up the presentation or temperature of a particular dessert – only if you promise to bring the dish back (seriously, a lady dropped into (swah-rey) during our interview with a few empty dishes and a raving review of the Crème brûlée).

The Crème brûlée is another "hot" item at (sawh-rey). Photo courtesy of Douglas Johns Photography
The Crème brûlée is another “hot” item at (sawh-rey). Photo courtesy of Douglas Johns Photography

When you visit (swah-rey) on Central Avenue be sure to tell them that DowntownStPete.com sent you and ask Gregg about the recipes he discovered in his Nonna’s house (Italian Grandmother) – although he had to make the portions smaller, some of what he bakes is right out of her book!

Gregg Cicconne creating sweet happiness for us to enjoy at (swah-rey)
Gregg Cicconne creating sweet happiness for us to enjoy at (swah-rey)

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As Downtown St. Pete evolves, our online community is also growing as well. On DowntownStPete.com you will discover the best of what DTSP has to offer including the events to attend, places to visit, and personalities to meet. It is here that you can connect with other members to share anything local. Create your profile now to become involved – we can’t wait to hear from you!

*Featured image courtesy of Douglas Johns Photography

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Downtownstpete.com Content Writer Also known as The Mistress of Magic: Gypsy Allure.