The typical restaurant experience has changed quite a bit since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived this spring. Many customers are opting for takeout and delivery over the dine-in routine, and while restaurants have shifted to accommodate customers ordering online, pop-up restaurants like Sarasota's new Tralia has arrived right on time.
Tralia has no physical location. Its menu and ordering system exist completely online, and customers pick up their orders between 4 and 8 p.m. on Saturdays at a commissary kitchen workspace in Sarasota. Chef and owner Anthony Petralia launched Tralia in July, after months of planning and dreaming to open a restaurant of his own.
"I grew up in Rochester, New York, washing dishes in restaurants at age 13 and working my way up in the business," says Petralia. "I worked with a chef at Luma on Park in Orlando for four years, who made me into the chef I wanted to be."
Petralia also grew up enjoying classic Italian dishes, like pizza, with his family. He lived in Sarasota in the past, but returned in December 2019. His family got to work as soon as they found the right space.
"My wife's been helping run the front to make sure everything's presentable, and my dad's been helping in the kitchen a lot," says Petralia. "This has been a dream for him, as well, so it's been an honor to carry out his vision."
Tralia's menu features eight items: three plates, four pizzas and a dessert. "I wanted to highlight dishes that I would eat on a day off," says Petralia.
Plates include classic Caesar salad, chicken wings (an homage to Petralia's Rochester roots, where pizza and wings is a classic combo) and cacio e pepe made with local butter and melted pecorino romano cheese. His pizzas include a classic margherita, pepperoni drizzled with hot honey, fennel and sausage, and a constantly rotating flavor, which is now summer corn. And for dessert, sweet pizzelle with Nutella.
What's unique about the pizza is its sourdough base, meaning no commercial yeast is added. Petralia adds flour and water to his sourdough starter on Wednesdays and prepares the dough on Thursdays, allowing ample time for the dough to naturally rise before baking. The sourdough also gives the pizzas a tang reminiscent of pies made in cities like San Francisco.
"Last weekend, 25 pizza doughs were made and we sold out," says Petralia. "We have already gotten repeat customers and are looking to extend our hours soon."
Customers can place orders starting at noon on Thursdays on the Tralia website. After choosing a pick-up time, opt for curbside or takeout between 4 and 8 p.m. on Saturday. Stay updated on new menu items and opening dates on Tralia's Facebook page.
"We've had great feedback so far," says Petralia. "Sarasota has a vibrant and growing food scene, and we want to be part of it."