Celebrity Chef Johnathan Rodriguez at the Rooftop Sal Y Mar

Chef Johnathan Rodriguez. Photo Jill Weinlein

One of the most popular dining venues in Tampa is Sal Y Mar, because of Executive Chef Johnathan Rodriguez. He has become quite a celebrity after appearing as a contestant on Season 6 of Food Network's 'Supermarket Stakeout.' Chef and Food Network television personality Alex Guarnaschelli hosts the show where four chefs compete in a pop-up kitchen outside a grocery store. Chefs have to negotiate with shoppers their grocery bags to make winning dishes while staying under a $500 budget.

Sal Y Mar Cuisine. Photo Jill Weinlein

Chef Johnathan has been in high-intensity kitchens for almost 20 years. He started as a dishwasher at a Hilton in New York, before asking a chef to work by his side on the line helping him to get the food out. He then moved to Florida and worked at the Embassy Suites. He has trained at two Michelin grade restaurants and was the Operational Sous Chef for Walt Disney World's Swan & Dolphin. 

He's worked at French Laundry in Yountville, Ca, and led a culinary program as Executive Chef for Sea Salt in St. Pete, and the Embassy Suites by Hilton. He has also been a private chef for President Obama and his family and Donald Trump and his family at the Trump National Golf Club in New York. He also was a private chef for Eric and Lara Trump.

Accolades and awards include the prestigious Best Chef Award at the Savor St. Pete Food & Wine Festival in both 2022 and 2023, along with recognitions such as Taste of Clearwater and the Chef Inspired Award.

Sal Y Mar Tampa. Photo Jill Weinlein

High up on the rooftop of the dual branded Aloft Tampa Midtown Hotel and Element by Westin Hotel, Chef Johnathan leads the team as Executive chef and also the food and beverage director at Sal Y Mar restaurant up on the 7th floor. Located in Tampa's exciting Midtown shopping and dining district, Sal Y Mar is a lively spot as the sun sets well into the evening.

This chef truly believes that dreams happen when you manifest them. Now at Sal Y Mar, Chef Johnathan is blending his diverse culinary background into the menu. He infuses a little Italian, Spanish, French, Mediterranean, Puerto Rican and American into his dishes.

Chef Johnathan .Photo Jill Weinlein

His award-winning Tuna Tataki is a fan favorite during brunch or dinner. Three fresh ahi tuna on fried wonton rounds arrive topped with pickled ginger, wasabi aioli, soy caviar and black and white sesame seeds. 

Other brunch fare includes a Cuban sandwich with sliced salami, ham, pulled pork, pickles, melted swiss cheese and Dijon Aioli between two slices of delicious bread. He also makes a Guf Grouper sandwich in between a soft brioche bun. The grilled fish dazzles with a pina salsa verde, raw red onions, spinach and chipotle crema.

During dinner hour guests and locals enjoy Chef Johnathan's Deconstructed Paella served with saffron risotto, chorizo, manchego cheese, shrimp, mussels and scallops. His seared salmon is served on vegetable couscous with a sweet corn coulis and a pour of cilantro beurre blanc sauce. Meat lovers appreciate the Sal Y Mar Tomahawk Experience that arrives with a 32 to 34 ounce Tomahawk cooked perfectly and enhanced with a sprinkling of Maldon salt, truffle oil, a chimichurri sauce and choice of two creative side dishes. One can select sauteed broccolini, street corn yucca mash and tostones.

Rooftop at Aloft. Photo Jill Weinlein

The forward-thinking modern design of Aloft Tampa Midtown Hotel offers loft-like rooms and suites, with plush mattresses, topped with crisp white linens and comfort foam pillows.  

Guests enjoy the views and scenery up at the rooftop pool next to Sal Y Mar to soak up the Florida sunshine. There is also a 24-hour fitness center, equipped with cardio equipment and free weights.

Next time you plan a Tampa getaway, be sure to visit Sal Y Mar and say hello to Chef Johnathan and his team. They will make you feel welcome and ensure that you have an unforgettable culinary experience.

Jill Weinlein

Los Angeles based Jill Weinlein covers travel, food and lifestyle destinations for multiple newspapers, magazines and websites. Her areas of expertise include, luxury travel, culinary reviews, cruising and family travel destinations. Born in Los Angeles, Jill studied Communications and Theatre Arts at UCLA. She has a a Dine and Travel blog - and she writes a weekly restaur...(Read More)

Related Articles

Around the web