We were invited to the magical Ravello at Four Seasons Orlando for a sneak peek and taste of their Magical Dining Month menu this year.  Our dinner was held in their private demonstration kitchen located in the back of the restaurant and it came complete with our own private chefs and wait staff.  It was truly a wonderful experience to be able to witness and smell all of our meals being cooked right in front of us by their talented and passionate chefs.  The food was outstanding and the wait staff took care of us so well as always.

What is Magical Dining Month?

  • 3 courses – Appetizer, Entrèe, and Dessert
  • Price: $35 per person plus tax & gratuity
  • Over 100 + participating restaurants
  • Beginning August 24 through September 30
  • Through Visit Orlando, one dollar from each meal will benefit Best Buddies and Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida.
    Click here to view menu and make reservations

Fresh dough from Italy

The talented Executive Chef Fabrizio Schenardi welcoming us to Ravello.

Choice of Appetizer

Frisella | Pappa al Pomodoro | Mozzarella – warm pugliese bread, extra virgin olive oil, mozzarella, greens

Chef Riccardo Sala preparing a delicious course for us!

Calamari | Fregola – sauteed calamari, fregola, crunchy zucchini, grape

Choice of Entrèe

Brasato e Polenta – braised beef Piedmont style, Barbera wine sauce, soft polenta

Florida Red Fish | Rapini | Salsa Verde – red fish, bell pepper, broccoli rabe, garlic, salsa verde, potato

Reginette Pasta | Gamberi | Melanzane – shrimp, reginette pasta, eggplant, olives, marjoram, tomato sauce

Choice of Dessert

Torta Della Nonna
– honey, pine nuts, raspberry

Salted Caramel Budino – chocolate, coffee, vanilla cream

Add a Course

Veal -Parmesan-Breadcrumb Crust, Tomato Fonduta

Spaghetti – homemade spaghetti, San Marzano tomato, crunchy basil ($9)

Margherita Pizza – tomato, basil, mozzarella ($16)

Umbria Coffee Tiramisu ($5)

Big thank you and princess kisses to Four Seasons Orlando publicist Dana Berry for the invite & the chefs and wait staff at Ravello for the exceptional meal and service as always!!

Please contact Private Dining Coordinator Robbie Wilcox at (407) 313-6914 if you’d like to reserve the private demonstration kitchen for your next event.

Ravello at Four Seasons Resort Orlando
10100 Dream Tree Blvd Orlando, FL 32836
(407) 313-6161

Terralina Crafted Italian opened this summer in Disney Springs of Orlando, FL Starting July 23, Terralina Crafted Italian will begin hosting a late-night happy hour from 9-11 p.m. Sunday – Thursday on the patio. Specials include $5 Beers and half-price wines by the glass.

Every meal comes with fresh bread made in-house at Terralina. The bread is dense and delicious. I suggest having it with the pickled vegetables that comes with it.

Some may dip the bread into the extra virgin olive oil that is made especially for Terralina, but it doesn’t tickle my fancy.

One of guests’ favorite appetizers include herb ricotta-stuffed Fried Olives, which are unique and tasteful. It is served with shaved parmesan that adds a robust flavor on its own.

The Crispy Eggplant Fries were more soggy than anything. I can assure you that eggplant can become crispy if made correctly. Although they weren’t crispy as promised by the name, they are delicious and creamy! It is served with some lemon-caper aioli that adds to the creaminess of each bite.

This Rigatoni Calabrese includes housemate sausage, tomatoes, olives, mushrooms, and escaroles. Escaroles are usually bitter, but there is no bitterness in these greens. The pasta was made to perfection and the sausage was the best part with the abundance of flavors it releases in each bite.

The Lemon Panna Cotta is served with candied thyme that adds such uniqueness to each bite of the panna cotta. The panna cotta itself is served at room temperature, which is a great way to whip together ingredients without the ingredients separating from one another. This dessert is refreshing for a hot Florida summer.

If you’d like some tasty cocktails, the Cozy Terrace is nice for the summer. It was mixed well and refreshing with the cucumber.

The Negroni has nice orange notes, but it was not mixed very well. If you’re a gin type of person, this drink is for you.

Maybe you’re a bourbon type of person. Try the Revered Heritage, which is nice and strong.

For more information, check out the Terralina Crafted Italian website.

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We were invited to La Tavola, which are Italian dinners based on its culture and cuisine. Well- known local chef Kevin Fonzo, formerly of K Restaurant, prepared fresh cooked Italian dishes that were paired with Franciacorta – currently the best “sparkling wine” in Italy.

There were five flights of wine. The first four flights consisted of two wines and the fifth was a single wine. Here is the menu as follows:

Wine Flight 1– DOCG Franciacorta La Valle Naturalis Extra Brut 2012 & DOCG Franciacorta Ricci Curbastaro Extra Brut

Wine Flight 2– DOCG Franciacorta Lo Sparviere Saten & DOCG Franciacorta Villa Franciacorta Saten 2013

Wine Flight 3– DOCG Franciacorta Majolini Brut & DOCG Franciacorta Ronco Calino Brut 2010

Wine Flight 4– DOCG Franciacorta Bonafidini Opera Rose & DOCG Franciacorta Antica Fratta Essence Rose 2011

Franciacorta: Flight 5 – DOCG Franciacorta Ferghettina Pas Dosé ‘Riserva 33’ 2010

Cheese, pastrami,sliced bread, olives, and roasted peppers were set on the table as a warm up. 
Here is a look at the dishes that were prepared and served by Chef Fonzo.

The chef says he chose these dishes because it was more about feeling comfortable at the table and the food went with every kind of wine. It’s like going to an Italian grandmother’s house on a Sunday.  He wanted it to be casual and encourage conversation.

“To me all the food tonight was from the heart. It’s food I grew up on,” says Fonzo. He is from New York but his grandparents are from Italy. His favorite dish that he served was the the tomato sauce and meatballs because that’s his comfort food. 

 Rashmi Primlani, creator of The Primlani Kitchen and presenter of the dinner shares her thoughts, “Italy is an enchanting land of endless discoveries, dreams, & vino.  Like India, Italy is one country where regionality is not only accepted, it is encouraged, revered, and passionately pursued.”

“What makes Italy particularly alluring is unlike the yuppies of the west, who voluntarily surrendered tradition for consumerism; Italians, including the champions of change, the younger generation, confidently and with great pride wear their cultural identity as a comfortable cloak or second skin, while crusading their local region onto contemporary stature. Speaking of Italian Wine, Franciacorta – Italy’s leading sparkling wine region’s quality conscientious producers, driven by passion and unwavering pursuit of perfection, undeterred by the wind or fashion, are forging exhilarating beauties dipped in sensuality and finesse. The single recurring note that dance in our minds – Franciacortais so much more than simply a toasting wine, it indisputably belongs on the dining table as every day affordable luxury, that marries well with all international cuisines, be it a family style meal or 12 course gourmand culinary experience. It’s our duty to share the love for Franciacorta!”

At the end the night, Fonzo brought out some fruits and sweets along with different cheeses as something light on the stomach since we all ate until our bellies were full. There was no strict pairing as we could mix and match freely to our liking.

It was a night well spent with other local food and wine lovers. We laughed, mingled and shared moments together as we broke bread around the large wooden table. It was an intimate and homey experience. The wine had an approachable taste and it’s true, it can be served with anything or you can drink it alone. It is not too harsh and the sparkling aspect gives it an enjoyable bounce and personality that you’ll love.


Facts about Franciacorta Wine as provided by the Franciacorta Blend of Passions presentation – 


The 1st Italian Sparkling Wine
produced exclusively through
second fermentation in bottle
to gain DOCG in 1995.

As for its current market: 

  • 117 producers
    • 19 townships included in the Franciacorta area (including
    municipality of Brescia)
    • 2,800 hectares of vineyards producing Franciacorta DOCG
    • 82% Chardonnay, 14% Pinot Nero, 4% Pinot Bianco
    • 350 hectares of vineyards producing Curtefranca DOC
    • 16.5 million bottles sold in 2015, 1.5 million of them abroad
    • The leading export market was Japan, which accounts for
    22% of the total exports, Switzerland and USA.

We were invited to a media preview at Terralina Crafted Italian a day before they officially opened to the public.  Terralina Crafted Italian is a waterfront Italian restaurant by James Beard Award winning chef, Tony Mantuano.  Chef Tony and Executive Chef Justin Plank worked together to create a menu that serves authentic Italian dishes in a dreamy setting to guests at Disney Springs.  Terralina Crafted Italian, formerly Portobello Country Italian Trattoria, is now officially opened to the public.  They are located next door to Paddlefish.

Swordfish peperonata

Grilled bell peppers and mushrooms

Grilled brick chicken gremolata

Citrus marinated porchetta with apple mostarda

Fresh hand-cut pasta

Meatballs & polenta with shaved pecorino

The indoor-outdoor bar

Fresh house-made pasta with just olive oil, grated parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.  The pasta was so delicious could not have tasted any fresher!

Terralina Crafted Italian
1650 E Buena Vista Dr, Orlando, FL 32830
(407) 934-8888

Shrimp Medeterraneo – Sautéed shrimp in extra virgin olive oil, with scallions in a homemade butter sauce. This was my favorite dish!

Bella Italia Ristorante is an authentic Italian restaurant that opened a year and a half ago in Winter Garden and they are truly a great addition to the area.  Bella Italia Ristorante serves century-old family recipes in a clean and elegant dining room that’s accessible and comfortable for families.  Family owned and operated by husband and wife team Leonard and Dorina Kodra, Bella Italia Ristorante takes pride in being the neighborhood spot everyone feels welcome to for Sunday dinner — and all week long.  Bella Italia Ristorante wants their guests to feel like family, and puts great emphasis on providing friendly and sincere service where you can feel the warmth from their staff.

Beautiful restaurant, lovely owners, excellent authentic Italian food and great service.  My mom and I thought the food was the best Italian food we’ve ever had.  We both highly recommend this place!

When I walked in there was a musician in the dining room playing on his keyboard while singing “You are so beautiful to me”.  I love hearing that song because because it reminds me of when Alfalfa sung it to Darla in The Little Rascals!

Media guests dining at the communal table

Meatball Parmesan – Homemade meatballs served in our homemade marinara sauce topped with fresh grated parmesan cheese.

Bruschetta – A traditional topping of garlic, chopped mozzarella cheese, fresh tomatoes, basil and extra virgin olive oil, and shaved parmesan cheese. Served with toasted bread.

Shrimp Medeterraneo – Sautéed shrimp in extra virgin olive oil, with scallions in a homemade butter sauce.

Calamari Fritti – Calamari finely dusted in a light flour crust, fried, and served with marinara sauce.

House Salad with Ranch Dressing

Housemade Cheesecake

Be sure to check out Bella Italia Ristorante the next time you are in the Winter Garden area, you will love it!

(Source credit: Bella Italia Ristorante)

Bella Italia Ristorante
13848 Tilden Rd #192, Winter Garden, FL 34787
(407) 347-3277

From April 10 – June 16, guests at BRAVO Cucina Italiana will have the opportunity to pick one appetizer and two of BRAVO’s classic Italian dishes and receive a half portion of each.  What a great way to taste two entrees at an affordable price!

Lunch is $14.99 and dinner is $17.99.

Choose one appetizer:
Soup of the Day
Italian Wedding Soup
Lobster Bisque (add $1)
BRAVO Chopped Salad
Casar Classic
Insalata Della Casa

Choose two entrees:
1/2 Pasta Woozie: Grilled chicken, fettuccine, alfredo, spinach
1/2 Pasta BRAVO: Grilled chicken, mushrooms, rigatoni, roasted red pepper cream
1/2 Chicken Parmesan: Pomodoro, mozzarella, herb linguine
1/2 Shrimp Fra Diavolo: Spicy tomato cream sauce, campanelle pasta, shrimp
1/2 Mama’s Lasagna Bolognese: BRAVO’s signature meat sauce, alfredo, ricotta, mozzarella

BRAVO will also offer a seasonal Warm Berry Cake and drink specials including the Strawberry Fizz, Strawberry Mango Cosmo and Strawberry Basil Smash.

* At select locations.  Available Sunday – Thursday only.  Promotion ends June 16, 2018.

In addition, BRAVO will offer a spring gift card promotion perfect as a gift for moms, dads and grads!  For every $100 in gift cards purchased, guests will receive a free $25 bonus card.

Keep scrolling to view pictures from our recent media dine of when got to taste their current spring promotion.  BRAVO is a beautiful restaurant with good food and a very nice staff, especially Victor who took care of us.

Complimentary bread and herb oil

Calamari Fritti – creamy horseradish, marinara

Crispy Shrimp Napoli – green onions, charred tomato Napoli sauce

Lobster Bisque with sherry, diced shrimp

BRAVO Chopped Salad – chopped greens, cucumbers, red onions, tomatoes, olives, feta, red wine vinaigrette

Left to right: Pasta Woozie: Grilled chicken, fettuccine, alfredo, spinach
Pasta BRAVO: Grilled chicken, mushrooms, rigatoni, roasted red pepper cream

Left to right: Chicken Parmesan: Pomodoro, mozzarella, herb linguine
Shrimp Fra Diavolo: Spicy tomato cream sauce, campanelle pasta, shrimp

(Seasonal) Warm Berry Cake

Open kitchen that you can walk up to and watch chefs prepare your meal

Beautiful outdoor seating

Be sure to stop by BRAVO soon to check out their affordable spring menu promotion before it ends on June 16, it is worth it!
(Source credit: BRAVO Cucina Italiana)

BRAVO Cucina Italiana on Sand Lake’s Restaurant Row
7924 Via Dellagio Way, Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 351-5880

There is nothing better than playing hooky.  Leave your responsibilities, your obligations, your worries behind and go play!  This is exactly what my husband and I did on a Friday afternoon while the kids were in school.  Granted, my husband took the day off from work and I work from home, but still, it felt delightfully naughty of us to take some time for just us two.  Especially, time spent at Disney Springs, “hiding out” at Enzo’s Hideaway. Sometimes you just need an escape, and that’s how we felt dining at Enzo’s, an old rum-running underground tunnel during the prohibition era, that was later turned into a restaurant by Enzo himself when he accidentally stumbled upon it. Maria and Enzo, a lovely, Italian couple, new to Orlando straight from Italy (Enzo literally flew in on his airplane), here to bring us three divine places to eat: Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante, Pizza Ponte, and Enzo’s Hideaway.  All three eateries located in Disney Springs, but Enzo’s Hideaway is not as obvious to find, given the mystery of its origins.  This “secret location” can be found below Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante, underground, giving it a very cozy and romantic feel, but also perfectly welcoming to families and friends of all ages.

Entrance to Enzo’s Hideaway at Disney Springs

Our amazing waiter told us this heart-warming backstory about Maria and Enzo, and how their three restaurants came to be.  Personally, I love when Disney does this with its establishments.  It makes the dining experience even more special (that might be my own opinion, but I am a storyteller after all).  Rumor has it that the original concept of this speakeasy included a password-only entrance; hence, the window in the top-center of the door.  The idea was scrapped, but the door remains.

Enzo’s Hideaway Speakeasy-Style Door

Once inside, diners are whisked away to another time period, listening to popular music by classic Italian crooners (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and more), seated under vintage-style Edison bulb lighting, at mahogany wood tables and booths with red-cushioned seats, while curiously reading the graffiti decorating the “tunnel” walls.  I couldn’t help but feel we stumbled upon an old, Italian restaurant on the streets of the Bronx or Brooklyn.  Any minute Martin Scorsese is going to walk in and start filming.  I can see my Italian relatives scurrying around their deli and restaurant in Toms River, New Jersey, while I hang-out behind the counter with my accordion-playing, great-grandfather who calls me bella.  I’m home.

Enzo’s Hideaway Mock Bar – Prohibition Style
Enzo’s Hideaway Dining Room
Enzo’s Hideaway Graffiti-Themed Walls
Enzo’s Hideaway “Gambling Room”
Enzo’s Hideaway Table Setting

Now, on to the best part of our secret date – the drinks and food!  I’m a sucker for anything with Prosecco in it (Prosecco by itself too), so, it didn’t take long for me to notice the Luciano Spritz on the menu, made with Solerno Blood Orange, Aperol, blood orange juice, and Villa Sani Prosecco.  However, the Sangria, also caught my attention.  What is a girl supposed to do with this dilemma?  Order two drinks when it’s barely past noon?  Sadly, this is not an option, when picking up kids from school is involved.  I got it!  Demand, no, politely ask my husband to order the Sangria – problem solved.  Enzo’s Sangria made with a house blend of Malbec, Burgundy, Apricot and Peach Brandy, seasonal fruits, and cinnamon spice simple syrup is refreshingly sweet and smooth. It complimented the bubbly, soured-sweetness of my Luciano Spritz nicely.  Both drinks were the perfect accompaniment to our appetizer – Salumi e Formaggi for two.  This antipasto platter is made-to-order, with fresh cuts of meat and cheese sliced in front of you at Enzo’s very own “deli counter”.  The platter consists of 24-month-cured Prosciutto, Salame Piccante, Finocchiona, 24-month-aged Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino Romano, Fontina, olives, pickled vegetables, bread sticks, and a mustard fruit spread.  The meat, cheese, pickled vegetables, breadsticks were all delicious, but the mustard fruit spread really took me by surprise.  A spread I have never seen or tried before, but can’t wait to have again.  Sweet from the fruit, but spicy, almost like the taste of horseradish – a perfect pairing with each of the three cheeses.

Enzo’s Hideaway Luciano Spritz
Enzo’s Hideaway Sangria
Enzo’s Hideaway Salumi e Formaggi

As we fork-fenced over our antipasto, a truce was called just in time to peruse the lunch menu.  Another quandary – everything looks good!  My husband ordered the Polpettine – classic meatballs with polenta, and I chose the Porchetta and Provola Panini – pork roast, provolone, grainy mustard, pear aioli, spicy cherry peppers, and arugula.  If you like the combination of salty and sweet, this panini is for you.  The pork and provolone was tender, the aioli tangy, with peppery arugula, and a zesty kick from the mustard and cherry peppers.  As the loving wife I am (sharing is caring), my husband and I exchanged plates halfway through the course, as he finished my panini, I enjoyed the meatballs and polenta. The polenta was so soft it practically melted in my mouth, and the meatballs were delicate, yet hearty, gently swimming in a luscious tomato sauce.

Enzo’s Hideaway Porchetta and Provola Panini
Enzo’s Hideaway Polpettine

Our secret lunch almost complete, our waiter asks us if we will be having dessert.  As they say, when in Rome – yes! He recommends his favorite dessert on the menu – Maritozzi con Panna.  Imagine a sweet roll stuffed with cream and Nutella, sprinkled with powdered sugar – forget imagining it, have it now!  I don’t think my explanation can clearly justify how fantastic this dessert is, but, I’ll give it a try.  The bread reminds me of a dense dinner roll that has been dusted with powdered sugar, while the cream is velvety, but not overly-sweet, which makes sense when paired with the Nutella, whose job is to make everything sweet.

Enzo’s Hideaway Maritozzi con Panna

We left our secret rendezvous with huge smiles on our faces, and full stomachs to match.  I am absolutely in love with Enzo’s Hideaway and plan to return very soon.  The dinner menu has even more delectable entrees to pick from, including a pasta dish with a thick meat sauce made with beef short ribs (I’m having that).  Enzo’s Hideaway also offers a late-night dining experience on Thursdays through Saturdays through 2am, featuring prohibition-style cocktails and a special late-night menu (I’ll need an afternoon power nap to enjoy this).  In conclusion, whether you’re playing hooky or not, Enzo’s Hideaway is the perfect spot to get “lost”, leave the stresses of life behind, and unwind, speakeasy style.


Eggs In Purgatory – farm eggs, arrabiata, polenta, and pecorino

We attended a media preview at Pizza Bruno this past Sunday to check out their revamped brunch menu, available every Saturday & Sunday from 11am-3pm and we enjoyed our brunch and experience.  The restaurant gets slammed every evening so your best bet is to get there early for lunch during the week or brunch on the weekends when there is no wait time.

Garlic Knots – Too much garlic, pecorino, chili flake, oregano.  These are a classic appetizer at Pizza Bruno, I highly recommend them!

Kale Salad – Golden raisins, candied pecans, pizza crumb, Emperors Dressing, pecorino.  Most addicting kale sale ever!

Cinnabon Bun,  they were so good and a must for every brunch.

Frittata – Roasted tomato, white cheddar, Arugula salad, Ricotta toast with honey and pine nuts

Shrimp & Grits – Rock shrimp, aribiatta, fried egg, Calabrian oil.  This dish has a little kick to it.

Dutch Baby in two variations.  Wood Fired pancake with amish butter, sea salt, maple syrup.  The taste and texture was like a pancake flan.

Foxtail Coffee Co. Cold Brew

Guaincale & Blueberry in two variations.  It was sweet and savory.  This pizza was popular among our group.

Pizza Amatricana – tomato, chili, red onion, guanciale, and pecorino

The Dude – fresh mozzarella, pecorino, tallegio, lots of black pepper.  This is a classic pizza at Pizza Bruno it was popular among our group as well.  The Dude was my favorite pizza out of the three.

My togo box of all the pizza variations offered

The talented and down-to-earth owner of Pizza Bruno, Bruno Zacchini III working expo.  Thank you for hosting us, you and your staff were amazing!

Be sure to check out brunch at Pizza Bruno soon for their delicious brunch menu and the BEST pizza in Orlando!

Pizza Bruno
3990 Curry Ford Rd, Orlando, FL 32806
(They do not have a phone)


“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost, Road Not Traveled

This is Florida’s best kept secret.  Streamsong Resort is nestled in Fort Meade, FL (2 hours from Orlando) and is a hidden gem, literally and figuratively.  This 5-year old resort stretches out to 16,000 acres and the land was formerly used for mining phosphate also known as P2O5, which became the name of one of their restaurants.

Interior of P205

The resort is breathtaking, the food was so good – the best I’ve ever had in my entire life, the customer service was top-notch, and nature really did its job. Out of all the assignments I’ve done for Tasty Chomps, this one was my favorite.

Thank you Diana & Michelle from The Zimmerman Agency for hosting us! We all had an amazing time and we couldn’t have asked for a better weekend escape.  Everything was perfection.

The one-of-a-kind/state of the art infrastructure at Streamsong Resort attracts bountiful of visitors, however, you won’t find any of them lounging around the main lobby on a sunny day.  You can find them outside utilizing three of the country’s top luxury golf courses, bass fishing on the serene lakes, shooting sporting clays, practicing archery, going on a walk on the nature trails, dining at the five casual or fine dining restaurants, sunbathing at the lakeside infinity pool, or getting pampered at the AcquaPietra – the resort’s European-style grotto spa that looks like elephant legs dipped in an ocean. The healing pools has various temperatures from warm to ice-cold. The wet sauna was my favorite because it was a heated steam room that had cold water running down from a shower head… It was a pretty exhilarating experience feeling two sensations at once.  Streamsong Resort has a lot of offer on and off-site. My room alone came with a beautiful view, free Wi-Fi, complimentary bites from The Zimmerman Agency, a Keurig machine, a mini-fridge, two televisions, a therapeutic shower and a mini-library of literary classics… perfect for a rainy day.

Smoked almond bark (the best chocolate bark I’ve ever had!), brown sugar smoked bacon, smoked monchego
Red sangria – Cabernet Sauvignon, josh cellars, blackberry brandy, freshly squeezed orange juice, spriteWhite sangria – chardonnay, josh cellars, triple sec, lavender bitters, apple juice, freshly squeezed orange juiceSottaTerra, the resort’s restaurant that is under Earth.Private limousine (right) and a shuttle (left) that runs every 15 minutes.

Jim & Maria from the hospitality team were extremely welcoming and accommodating.

Chef demonstration with Executive Chef Michael Ford at Streamsong Blue No. 1.  A really nice guy.
Shrimp Cocktail – shrimp, kumquat, cilantro, chives, rum, olive oil, red onion, chili flakes, plum sauce, lime, red bell peppers, horseradish, watercress, napa cabbage.
Fifty-Nine Restaurant & Bar, the epitome of a luxurious seafood and steakhouse.
Key west yellowtail with coconut curry & handmade coriander noodles
 72-hour pastrami short rib with popcorn grits & pickled vegetables
Four peppercorn mizayaki Kobe ribeye with unagi glacé. I highly recommend this!  Best thing I ever ate. My palate is forever changed and will never be the same.
Bone Valley Tavern, the resort’s newest and most popular dining experience.
Tuna wonton – pineapple, avocado mash, puffed rice
Smoked bacon – apricot dressing, frisse
Rotisserie chicken – potato puree, jus lie, chives
Haberno Mary (virgin version) outdoor fire pit — the perfect spot for a glass of wine and stargazing.
One-pound meatball atop alta cucina tomato sauce
Linguine pesto & diver scallops
Veal ossobuco with truffle risotto & gremlota
Mason jar strawberry shortcake – strawberry ice cream, Florida strawberry filling, biscuit crumble.  The strawberry ice cream was the perfect touch to this classic dessert!
Cast iron skillet cabernet and amarena cherry cobbler
S’mores – dark chocolate brownie, graham crust, brûlée marshmallow
 Golf lovers will experience a new standard at their three critically-acclaimed luxury golf courses: Red, Blue, and Black; the only destination in the world where three distinct golf courses were designed by four legendary architects.
The view from my room.  Serene lakes and streams offer best-in-class bass fishing. 
Outdoor pursuits include sporting clays, archery, nature trails and a lakeside infinity pool.
The intimate haven features 228 spacious, modern guest rooms; 25,000 sq. ft. of flexible conference and function space, with distinctive outdoor venues.
The grotto-style AcquaPietra spaPreserved Megalodon shark teeth that were all found on Streamsong Resort property.

(Source credit: Streamsong Resort)

Be sure to check out Streamsong Resort soon for an unforgettable experience!  You will love it!

Streamsong Resort
1000 Streamsong Dr, Bowling Green, FL 33834
(888) 294-6322

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Can you believe that this time last year, MidiCi Kissimmee was firing up their wood fired Italian ovens for the first time?  We enjoyed attending their fun media tasting and devouring fantastic appetizers, authentic Neapolitan pizzas and custom menu offerings to celebrate their one year anniversary and also learn more about their February pizza drive for charity.

#IHeartMidiCi Charity Drive:

To give back to the local community after the success of their first year of business, MidiCi Kissimmee invited 8 local foodies to create a unique pizza to reflect their personality and food preferences using a wide variety of fresh, natural, high quality ingredients (which include gluten free, vegan and vegetarian options).  Their pizza creations are available for all guests to order through the month of February and $2 per pizza sold will be donated to their charity of choice.  Charities include Give Kids The World Village, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Florida, St. Jude, Wounded Warriors Project, All About The Cats and Serenities Grace.  “It warms my heart that people love to come to MidiCi to celebrate.  We are proud to provide an authentic Neapolitan pizza experience using high quality ingredients, many imported from Italy such as our flour, olive oil, tomato sauce and prosciutto, and cooked in our wood fired Italian ovens.  We are so excited to be collaborating with some of Orlando’s finest foodies to give back to the community. Their pizza creations were inventive and showcase the variety of ingredients we offer,” said owner Troy Renfrow.

The eight Orlando foodies participating include:

Annie Alvarez of (@AnnieAtoZ) supports Wounded Warriors Project with her pizza creation.  She started with the Truffle Neapolitan Pizza topped with truffle cream, fresh mozzarella, parmesan, fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil and added ricotta cheese, and fresh sliced Prosciutto di San Daniele after it’s baked.

Anna-MarieWalsh of (@Beautyandthebeets) supports It’s All About The Cats with her pizza creation. She started with the Classic Margherita Neapolitan pizza topped with Italian tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, parmesan, fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil and added fresh grape tomatoes, garlic and a balsamic glaze swirl after it’s baked. She was inspired by a classic Bruschetta appetizer.

Carolina Gabrova of (@JanelaParaOrlando @WindowToOrlando) supports Give Kids The World with her pizza creation.  She went for an all cheese classic topped with Italian tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, parmesan, truffle cheese, and goat cheese.

Lisa Samples of (@LisaSamples) supports Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida with her pizza creation. She started with a white Bianca classic Neapolitan pizza topped with fresh mozzarella, parmesan, fresh basil, oregano, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and added garlic spinach, truffle cheese and mushrooms.

Wanda Lopez of (@MySweetZepol) supports St. Jude with her pizza creation. She started with the Classic Margherita Neapolitan pizza using Gluten Free crust, topped with Italian tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, parmesan, fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil and added homemade spicy pork sausage made with fennel and spicy peppers, tri-color bell peppers, and red onion.  She was inspired by her Puerto Rican heritage.

Silvia Cerviof (@silcervi) supports Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Florida with her Brazilian inspired pizza creation. She started with the Classic Margherita Neapolitan pizza topped with Italian tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, parmesan, fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil and added red onion, black olives, Applewood Smoked Bacon and hard boiled egg.

Suzy Farmar of (@SoozieTheFoodie) supports Serenities Grace with her pizza creation. She started with the Truffle Neapolitan Pizza topped with truffle cream, fresh mozzarella, parmesan, fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil and added roasted pepper, chicken, spinach garlic, truffle cheese and Prosciutto di San Daniele before baking.

Andrew Heaberlin of (@TastesofOrlando) supports Give Kids The World with his pizza creation. He started with the Classic Margherita Neapolitan pizza topped with Italian tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, parmesan, freshbasil, extra virgin olive oil and added Applewood Smoked Bacon, Sun-dried tomatoes and red onions.


Burrata Caprese – burrata, arugula, grape tomatoes, Italian vinaigrette dressing, housemade pesto, extra virgin olive oil

Burrata with Melon and Prosciutto – burrata, melon, prosciutto, extra virgin olive oil

House Meat and Cheese plate – black truffle cheese (sottocenere al tartufo), goat cheese, parmigiano-reggiano, rosemary ham (cotto), prosciutto, spicy Italian salami (calabrese).  Served with mustard, kalamata olives, dried apricots, dates, walnuts and honey

House Meat Board – prosciutto, spicy Italian salami (calabrese), Neapolitan salami, rosemary ham (cotto). served with mustard and kalamata olives

Melon and Prosciutto

Pepperoni Pizza with hidden Mickey.  It is not something they do normally although if a guest asks, they are always happy to accommodate.

The Italian – seasonal greens, romaine lettuce, Neapolitan salami, bell peppers, grape tomatoes, cucumber, red onions, kalamata olives, parmesan, crushed croutons, Italian vinaigrette dressing

Purple Kale & Ricotta Salad – purple kale, baby spinach, ricotta, dates, parmigiano-reggiano, mustard vinaigrette dressing

House Made Meatballs with Fresh Mozzarella – angus beef, fresh mozzarella, Italian marinara sauce, parmesan, basil

Seasoning bar


Signature Nutella Calzone – Nutella®, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, balsamic reduction

Signature Nutella Calzone – Nutella®, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, balsamic reduction

Hazelnut and Vanilla gelato


Hazelnut and Vanilla gelato + Espresso = Affogato, literally means “drowning”.

Special Offers:

House Cheese Board – black truffle cheese (sottocenere al tartufo), fresh mozzarella, goat cheese, gorgonzola, parmigiano-reggiano.  Served with dried apricots, dates, walnuts and honey.

#WineWednesday Wine and Cheese Special:
MidiCi Kissimmee believes in bringing friends together. Celebrate #WineWednesday with your favorite wine bottle from their list and receive a complimentary cheese board with every wine bottle purchase.

MidiCi means “You Tell Me.”  MidiCi Kissimmee offers a wide variety of toppings for guests to create their own pizza.  Share your special pizza creations on social media by using the hashtag #IHeartMidiCi for a chance to be featured and win weekly prizes, including restaurant gift certificates!

New Loyalty Rewards Program:
Guests are now able to sign up in store for our Loyalty Program to earn an immediate $5 reward and points good towards future purchases.

(Source credit: MidiCi Kissimmee)

Be sure to check out MidiCi Kissimmee soon for fresh, Neapolitan Pizza in Central Florida!  You will love this dreamy pizza establishment!

MidiCi Kissimmee
The Crosslands Shopping Center, across from The Fresh Market
720 Centerview Blvd Kissimmee, FL 34741
(407) 201-3824

We were invited to the media preview and grand opening of Maria and Enzo’s Ristorante with a special dedication moment including leadership from Disney, Patina Restaurant Group and Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse.  Following the dedication, we went inside the brand new Italian restaurant for a media reception and we celebrated National Spaghetti Day with some apps, pasta, wines, cocktails and sweet treats; perfect for the occasion.  Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante is a warm and dreamy restaurant with friendly staff, delicious food, and airline themed aesthetics that is adventurous and playful.

The backstory is that the building was a once-abandoned Disney Springs airline terminal from the 1930s.  Italian immigrants Maria and Enzo owned a small bakery business inside the airline terminal and they purchased the entire building after the airline terminal closed down.  As an airline pilot, Enzo was drawn to the abandoned airline terminal and to open a spacious restaurant in it was a dream of his and Maria, who both wanted to introduce Italian cuisine to guests at Disney Springs.

CACIOCAVALLO FRITTO – fried sicilian cheese, spicy tomato and pomodoro sauce

SPAGHETTI ALLA CHITARRA – burrata and meatballs

ARANCINI DI CARNE – fried rice stuffed with meat ragù, peas and mozzarella.  They were delicious!



Delicious TIRAMISU!

These were the best CHEESECAKE POPS that I have ever had in my life!

CANNOLI– sheep’s milk ricotta, chocolate chips, candied orange.  It was the best cannoli that I have ever had in my life!

Randomly selected guests will be upgraded upon arrival to the First Class Lounge and will receive a more upgraded level of service.  Guests 21 years of age or older will be served a complimentary glass of Prosecco and kids will receive a complimentary airline pin.

Be sure to book a reservation at Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante, link below, so you can experience this amazing new restaurant for yourself!
We also got to take a tour around the new Enzo’s Hideaway Tunnel Bar.
…and The Edison.
Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante
The Landing, Disney Springs, 1570 E. Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
(407) 560-8466

Enzo’s Hideaway Tunnel Bar
1570 E. Buena Vista Drive Lake Buena Vista, Florida 32830
(407) 560-9288

The Edison
1570 E. Buena Vista Dr. Lake Buena Vista, Florida 32830
(407) 560-9288

We were invited to BRIO Tuscan Grille to try the new Happy Hour menu along with some of their classics and it was an AMAZING experience.  The food was delicious and the highest quality, the presentation was beautiful and exceptionally-executed, and the customer service was SUPERIOR from start to finish – the hostess, server, managers and chefs all were flawless.  It was the best happy hour that I’ve ever been to.  You will get the biggest bang for your buck if you try their new happy hour menu.  The day I visited BRIO Tuscan Grille at their Millenia Mall location there was also a Christmas event going on with live entertainment, Christmas tree stilt walkers, a Santa Clause appearance, and a fireworks show.  That was just the cherry on top after an amazing happy hour experience!

Guests can enjoy the new additions to the Happy Hour menu available weekdays in the bar from 3:30pm – 6:30 pm including:

  • Shishito Pepper Hash: Crispy fingerling potatoes, feta, green onions, and Sriracha aioli ($5)
  • House-made Pickles: Fried crisp, with chile lime ranch ($4)
  • Potato Skins: Cheddar cheese sauce, Applewood bacon, green onions, and lime crema ($5)

Pair with a delicious selection of cocktails, including:

  • Red Sangria: Black raspberry liqueur, lime juice, lemon juice, simple syrup, soda water, raspberries, and orange ($5)
  • French Gimlet: Pineapple infused vodka, St. Germaine, lime juice, and diced cucumber ($6)
  • Tropical Cosmo: Pineapple infused vodka, Malibu Coconut Rum, cranberry juice, and lime juice, up ($5)
  • Wild Island: Pineapple infused vodka, moscato, lemon and pineapple juice, and pineapple garnish ($5)
  • Very Berry Margarita: Jose Cuervo, orange juice, triple sec, wildberry syrup, sweet and sour, soda water, fresh lime, blackberries ($6)
  • Cucumber Basil Gimlet: SVEDKA Vodka or house gin, fresh basil, crushed cucumbers, Angostura bitters, and fresh lemon and lime, rocks ($6)

Complimentary bread

Potato Skins – Cheddar cheese sauce, Applewood bacon, green onions, lime crema $5.00 (NEW!)

Beef Carpaccio – Field greens, capers, mustard aioli, Parmesan Flatbread $5.00

Tomato Mozzarella Salad – Tomatoes, Mozzarella, field greens, basil, balsamic, lemon vinaigrette $5.00

Black Pepper Shrimp – Romano crusted eggplant, spicy black pepper cream sauce $6.00

BRIO Burger – Provolone, special sauce, house-made chips $6.00

Spectators watching Santa Clause’s special appearance on the roof top at Neiman Marcus

Quick fireworks show

Christmas tree stilt walkers

Be sure to check out BRIO Tuscan Grille soon for their new happy hour menu!  If you visit the Millenia Mall location, you will enjoy seeing all the Christmas decorations already up!

BRIO Tuscan Grille – Millenia
4200 Conroy Rd, Orlando, FL 32839
(407) 351-8909

BRIO Tuscan Grille – Winter Park
480 N Orlando Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 622-5611

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We were invited to be the first to preview Ravello’s 3-course Magical Dining Month menu and it was by far one of the best dining experiences I’ve ever had since I started writing for Tasty Chomps.  I will find any and every reason to visit the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World because I love everything about their property and all of the staff is super friendly and hospitable.  The valet staff are always on point and super welcoming as well.  You can expect a flawless 5-star experience at this resort every time.  I enjoyed trying the Magical Dining menu at Ravello and you can too at a deliciously affordable price.

What is Magical Dining Month?
3-course dinner from a special prix fixe menu
Price: $35 per person
Over 100 + participating restaurants
Beginning August 25 through October 1
This year, $1 of each meal from Magical Dining Month will benefit two charities – Freedom Ride & BASE Camp Children’s Cancer Foundation.
Last year, Magical Dining Month raised over $195,125 for the Russell Home for Atypical Children charity!

Our dinner was scheduled on the same day as the solar eclipse so we got to try a special cocktail called “Eclipse of the Tart”.

At Ravello’s live-action “show kitchen,” savour Modern Italian meals are cooked right before your eyes.

Insalata Mista- trevisana, arugula, lola rossa, moscato vinaigrette

Polpettine – meatballs, mortadella, prosciutto, pomodoro sauce, mascarpone, grilled pan pugliese.  I’m not a fan of meatballs but their meatballs were sooo delicious and I loved them!

Gelato Di Parmigiano – radish, artisan lettuce, cucumber, tomato vinaigrette Parmigiano cheese gelato, taralli crumble

House Made Charcuterie and Cheese Board


House Made Bucatini Amatriciana – guanciale, onion, pomodoro sauce.  This dish was amazing because you can taste how fresh the pasta was.  It was the best pasta I’ve ever eaten in my life.

Chicken Putanessca with Polenta – taggiasca olive, capers

Pesce Spada – swordfish, sale speziato, salmoriglio, roasted potatoes, spinach, pomodorini, laggiasca olives


Affogato – vanilla housemade gelato, café Umbrian espresso

Sicillian Cannolis – pistachio, candied orange


The following dishes are from the regular menu and they are definitely worth ordering!

Tomato E Mozzarella Focaccia – EVOO, herbs, muffalta. $5

Pizza – buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto cotto, mascarpone, arugula.  Hot and fresh, made in a oven-burning oven.  $16

Umbria Coffee Tiramisu. $5

To book Magical Dining at Ravello, please visit the website below or call (407) 313-6161

10100 Dream Tree Blvd
Orlando, FL 32836

This past weekend Spoleto continued the summer fun with Spoleto Fest, a complimentary, two-day culinary celebration for all.  The event began on Saturday with a unique culinary experience where guests enjoyed samplings of Spoleto’s menu items, wine and live music, followed by a family fun day featuring “kids eat free,” raffles, games, face painting and more, on Sunday.

This pasta festival was a fun yet budget-friendly way to feed and entertain the entire family as the kids are about to go back to school after summer.

We loved attending the event and enjoyed the tasty dishes that Spoleto has to offer.  We had a wonderful time and we are looking forward to coming back to Spoleto Fest next year.  Check out our pictures below!

The line for Spoleto Fest – Windermere.  Back in June, they fed 700 people at their Spoleto Fest – Winter Park event.

Free ravioli sample while waiting in line.

Won a bag from the Spoleto prize wheel while waiting in line!

Almost there!  It was worth the wait.

The ingredients are fresh and organic.  After being selected, they get sautéed then tossed in pasta.

Superior customer service – friendly and quick.

My Spoleto creation!

Pasta: Fettuccine Noodles
Sauce: Alfredo
Six ingredients: Broccoli, Truffle Roasted Mushrooms, Roasted Red Onions, Baby Spinach, Kalamata Olives, and Zucchini, Sautéed in Pesto
Garnished with: Minced Cilantro & Red Chili Peppers

Be sure to check out the new Spoleto in Windermere – or check out one near you!

Spoleto – Windermere
4750 The Grove Dr. Windermere, FL 34786
Phone: (407) 217-2756

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On Tues., March 21The World’s Largest Wine Dinner took place simultaneously across all 244 Carrabba’s restaurants in celebration of its new wine menu. In a single evening, this four-course wine pairing dinner featured:

  • 7,000 guests
  • 4,000 uncorked bottles of wine
  • 28,000 dishes

The dinner consisted of selections from the restaurant’s new wine list, which features 42 distinctive wines curated by Carrabba’s sommelier Brittany Deloach. The list includes three new varietals, four new appellations, pairing suggestions and flavor profiles for each varietal to guide guests.

“Our guests love to explore new and exclusive dining experiences, and there’s no better way to celebrate the spectacular new selections on our wine list than by gathering together for the World’s Largest Wine Dinner,” said Carrabba’s sommelier Brittany Deloach. “We want to inspire guests to try new wines but – even better – we hope they will be inspired to try new dishes, as well.”

For $40 per person, guests of the World’s Largest Wine Dinner experienced a four-course menu featuring made-from-scratch dishes created by head chef Jay Smith with Deloach’s hand-selected wine pairings, including: Chloe Pinot Grigio (Italy), Pieropan Soave (Italy), Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) and Joel Gott Zinfandel (Calif.).

The grilled eggplant and hazelnut-crusted goat cheese added a nice touch to the common greens of the Insalata Fiorucci. This course paired well with the Chloe Pinot Grigio from Northern Italy. This wine is classically crisp and refreshing.

The pasta has a wonderful spicy touch from the Italian peppers in this Calabrian Cavatappi. The basil is a nice touch with the creamy burrata. You can never go wrong with creamy burrata present. This dish is paired with Pieropan Soave from Italy. The wine dates back to the early 1800s and balances well with the spices of the dish.

Veal Marsala is topped with mushrooms that were slightly more salty than desired. However, the veal itself is very tender and seasoned well. Paired with the Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, California to emphasize finesse and balance, but it matches well with the veal and Lombardo Marsala wine sauce.

The Tuscan-grilled sirloin is topped with mushrooms and the Lombardo Marsala wine sauce similar to the veal. It is made medium, but can be adjusted according to your desires. This dish is also paired with the Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, California.

Sogno Di Cioccolata “Chocolate Dream” is a rich fudge brownie with chocolate mousse, fresh whipped cream and chocolate sauce. The colder this dish is, the better it will be. The Joel Gott Zinfandel from California was smooth and matched with the dessert. This Zinfandel is not as bold as the Cabernet Sauvignon.

While the World’s Largest Wine Dinner is the official launch of the new wine menu, Carrabba’s will continue to introduce its new wine offering through a limited-time collection of Food & Wine Festival menu features, including:

  • Interesting Gems – New, seasonal selections that allow guests to experience new and notable wines, some of which are exclusive to Carrabba’s; the first edition features Pieropan Soave (Italy) and CasaSmith Barbera (Washington).
  • Festival of Wine Flights – This wine-tasting experience allows guests to explore wines from around the world paired with a small plate. Guests choose from three flights.
  • Signature Pairings – A special menu section that provides wine-pairing recommendations for Carrabba’s made-from-scratch entrées.

Although this event has passed, many wine dinner events are to come at Carrabba’s Italian Grill for your enjoyment.

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This week, Tasty Chomps was invited to BRAVO! Cucina Italiana to try meals from their Summer Fixe Menu, which offers a salad, an entrée and a dessert for each meal. To say the least, our visit was delightful.


The staff was welcoming, accommodating and genuine from having small talk to offering recommendations for their favorite dishes. Also, when he was available, Chef Matt Grimes came to our table to present our dishes to us. I managed to convince Chef Grimes into taking some portraits.


While we waited for our dishes, bread was served fresh from the oven with a herb oil dip. The bread was so warm, moist, fluffy, and a little chewy to my liking. How did Bravo! know my preferences? I’m not sure. Needless to say, we had a few baskets of this delicious bread.


The Chopped Salad included chopped greens, cucumber, red onion, tomatoes, olives, Feta, and red wine vinaigrette. It is the essential and basic salad for a simple choice with very fresh ingredients.


The Insalata Della Casa consisted of chopped greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, bacon, crispy pasta, and Parmesan dressing. I prefer this salad as the smokey bacon adds more texture, while the Parmesan dressing was tossed with the right amount.


The Pasta Fra Diabolo was made up of a spicy tomato cream sauce, campanile pasta and shrimp. The cream sauce is made by mixing Marinara and Alfredo sauce to obtain its silky smooth texture. The pasta was cooked to perfection and there was a generous number of shrimp. Finding out that I am allergic to shrimp, Chef Grimes offered to make me a portion to try without shrimp and went back into the kitchen to make me some right away – now that is service. I am so glad I was able to try this entrée as it made my day and was my favorite main course item.


The Chicken Milanese is a Romano-crusted chicken breast with Mozzarella served on a Pomodoro sauce and herb linguini. The Comodoro sauce is mild and does not overpower the flavors of the linguini. The linguini was also prepared correctly and seasoned by herbs for a nice fresh flavor. I believe the chicken was moist, but a bit salty; I suggest eating it with the Pomodoro sauce as a balance.


Chef Brittany’s Cannoli Crumble is a deconstructed Bravo!’s twist on the traditional cannoli. There’s lightly  sweetened ricotta filling with chocolate chips and cannoli pastry crumble. The filling was smooth, dense, cooling, and delicious. In contrast, the crust crumble provided the opposite texture similar to that of the semisweet chocolate chips. This take is creative, easier to share and less messy than the traditional cannoli.


The Vanilla Bean Créme Brûlée is a decadent vanilla bean custard with a caramelized sugar crust. I love this dessert because of how creamy, milky and sweet it is and how cooling it is to my palate. It is easy to eat, but dangerous for the same reason after a long day of work where you may devour more than a serving size.


Along with our meals, we decided to try the Sangria Rose and Cucumber Basil Gimlet to go along with our summer theme. The Sangria Rosa consisted of Sobieski Raspberry Vodka, fresh muddled pineapple and strawberry, Fizz 56 Brachetto d’Acqui, and is served on the rocks. It isn’t overpoweringly sweet and leaves notes of pineapple dancing on your tongue.


The Cucumber Basil Gimlet is made up of Grey Goose Vodka or Hendricks Gin, fresh basil, crushed cucumber, bitters and fresh lemon and lime juices, served on the rocks. We had it with Grey Goose Vodka and it is a strong drink, but refreshing for the summer at the same time. You know it is truly fresh when you can taste all the ingredients of the basil, cucumber, etc.

Sad to say, but this concludes our visit to BRAVO! Cucina Italiana. Please feel free to browse their website and make a reservation! You will not be disappointed.


Primo has a special place in my heart for several reasons.

Many years ago, it was the place, tucked away inside the JW Marriott at Grande Lakes, of one of the first “special” date nights I had with my now-wife, then girlfriend, May. It was a wonderful evening with fond memories of great food and great service, particularly for recent college graduates at the time.

Few in Orlando realize or know that Primo’s philosophy and practices towards simple, seasonal food has helped change Orlando’s food scene for the better – and continues to do so till this day.

Seasonal, fresh, local, and organic” – it’s now hard to remember a time when those terms were relatively still a novel concept in the local restaurant industry. One could argue that the farm to table movement in Orlando started here at Primo.

Chef Melissa Kelly, with her husband, pastry chef Price Kushner, opened the first Primo in Maine in 2000, a second at the JW Marriott Grande Lakes in Orlando in 2003, and a third outpost in Tuscon, Arizona in 2005.


Chef Melissa Kelly is ever passionate about her food – from sourcing and quality to sustainability – and it shows – in the way she speaks about the food system and her care for her pigs and greens. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and an alumni of the legendary Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse, she is the first female chef to win the James Beard Foundation’s award for Best Chef twice – first in 1999, and most recently again in 2013 for the Northeast.


Chef Melissa Kelly’s practical and simple advice to up and coming chefs, particularly female chefs who are often overlooked in the kitchens, is to remember to “keep your head down, work hard, have integrity, travel and read as much as you can.

Many of Chef Melissa Kelly’s alumni have taken this advice and nurturing environment and went on to excel in their respective fields in the restaurant industry.

Back in 2003, Primo was the proverbial primordial soup from which some of Orlando’s finest chefs emerged: pioneer chefs like Katherine Blake of The Rusty Spoon (who served as chef de cuisine of Primo from 2003-2008), Julie Petrakis of The Ravenous Pig and Cask and Larder, and Alexia Gawlak of Swine and Sons Provisions.

Primo was one of Lake Meadow Natural farm’s first clients – now their eggs and chicken are found in countless local Orlando restaurants.

Primo’s seasonally changing menu was one of the first to feature ingredients cultivated from an on-site organic garden, and from the resort’s own 7,000-square-foot garden at Whisper Creek Farm, in addition to sourcing from Central Florida’s small organic farms.

Spring is Chef Kelly’s favorite season – she “loves all the alliums and tender wild greens – all the pungent yet delicate flavors.”

And the garden is full of wonderful greens and herbs for the season.



Named after Chef Kelly’s grandfather, Primo Magnani, Primo’s classical cooking and preparation methods draw strong inspiration from cuisines off the coastal regions of Italy, France and Spain. Chef Kelly grew up around her grandfather’s butcher shop, and learned all the Italian classics from her grandmother.


Primo’s Chef de Cuisine Mariano Vegel, a native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, grew up cooking in his grandfather’s pizzeria and making fresh pasta from scratch every Sunday evening for family dinners. Chef Vegel joined JW Marriott Orlando shortly after graduating from the Instituto Argentino de Gastronomía in 2006.

On a recent media event, we were invited to sample some of the new as well as classic offerings at Primo, sharing the great things they do with food here.


Slow Cooked and Grilled Octopus ($16) Lima Beans / Artichokes / Calabrain Pesto / ‘Nduja Sausage (made in house) / Smokey Potato Chips

Octopus is a popular dish in Mediterranean cuisine – and it can be tough to cook well if not given the proper care and technique. Thankfully here at Primo, it’s slow cooked tender for 1.5 hours and then grilled to give it a nice smokey char, quite nice flavors with enjoyably crispy and soft textures. The artichokes, marinated in a sherry vinaigrette, with microgreens, pesto, and house made spicy ‘nduja sausage all go wonderfully together with the octopus. Light and delicious.


Cold Smoked Tuna Tartare ($16) Tonnato Sauce / Confit Tomatoes / Mint / Sesame Oil / Bottarga / Crispbreads

This tuna tartare is a classic Italian dish, inspired by Chef Mariano’s Christmas family memories and traditions, made with a creamy, tangy tonnato aioli traditionally made with fish sauce, anchovies, capers, and tuna. There’s big, bold flavors in this dish, made with yellowfin tuna, with care to source fish that are sustainable and regional. To Chef Mariano, this dish represents the intertwining of “happy food memories past,  with dining experiences present together for our guests.”


Farmer Salad ($15) PRIMO Lettuces / Garlicky Levain Croutons / House Cured Bacon / Soft Poached Whisper Creek Farm Egg / White Balsamic Vinegrette

The Farmer’s salad is hearty enough for a light meal, savory and delectable, topped with house brined and smoked bacon and a perfectly soft poached egg picked fresh daily from the on-site Whisper Creek Farm. The Farmer Salad is one of the most popular dishes served at all three Primo locations, and Chef Melissa Kelly often has this dish as a meal.


Squid Ink Linguini “Frutti Di Marie” ($34) Calamari / Jonah Crab / Rock Shrimp / Clams / Charred Pepper / Tasso Ham / Pimenton Crumbs

I loved this house made black squid ink linguini pasta – the medley of seafood from the uni and calamari to the jonah crab, rock shrimp, and littleneck clams were all so flavorful, and the charred pepper and salty tasso ham topped with pimenton cheese crumbs made the dish just come together beautifully.


Citrus Glazed Sea Scallops ($34) Crispy Sunchokes / Wild Mushroom & Black Garlic Carbonara / Truffles / Pickled Vegetables


Sauteed Scaloppine of Pork Saltimbocca ($36) Sage Infused Mushroom Madeira Jus with Prosciutto / Spinach / Roasted Garlic Mashed Potato

Something that never changes at Primo is their signature hearty pork saltimbocca dish – one of the original dishes inspired by Chef Melissa Kelly’s grandpa. The thick slices of pork sit on a sultry bed of prosciutto, spinach and roasted garlic mashed potato with a sage infused mushroom-madeira jus. It’s down home Italian comfort and soul food on a plate.


Caramello ($10) Caramel Crusted Pate Choux Filled with Salted Caramel Cremeux / Caramalia Chocolate Ganache / Salted Caramel Popcorn / Caramelized Hazelnut Gelato / Toasted Caramel Marshmallow

For dessert, Primo’s pastry chef brought to us a true work of art – the Caramello, which showcases caramel 6 different ways from hazelnut caramel gelato to toasted caramel marshmallow – a fabulous ending to the meal.

If you’re looking for simple, fresh, seasonal cooking – whether with influences from Spain or Italy or France, Chef Melissa Kelly’s Primo restaurant is definitely a must try for any one serious about the farm to table movement in Orlando. You’ll find the heart is there in the cooking, in the ingredients from the gardens in the farm yard to the kitchens and dining room tables.

at JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes
Open for dinner 6-10 pm
4040 Cental Florida Parkway
Orlando, FL 32837


For 27 years, The Peabody Orlando hotel was connected to the Orange County Convention Center on International Drive. In late 2010, a $450 million renovation of the hotel added a 32-story wing that doubled the number of rooms and an expansion tower that stands as the second tallest building in Orlando (behind the SunTrust tower in Downtown Orlando).

On October, 1 2013, The Peabody Orlando was sold to Hyatt Hotels and renamed Hyatt Regency Orlando.

With the change to Hyatt Regency, the Peabody’s trademarked Capriccio Grill was transformed into Fiorenzo Italian Steakhouse, with a new menu and a new chef de cuisine.

Fiorenzo, which means blossoming or flourishing in Italian, brings together the flavors an authentic Italian restaurant in Orlando and the tradition of a great American steak house. The restaurant is elegantly decorated, with dark black marble table tops and champagne gold touches accenting the dining room, and an open kitchen with a pizza oven operating to full capacity. The black and gold give it an almost Gatsby-esque feel, dapper for a hotel restaurant, a little old fashioned yet modern at the same time.

Looking inside Fiorenze Italian Kitchen
Looking inside, decor, at the Fiorenzo Italian Steakhouse at the Hyatt Regency Orlando

Chef Jimmy Stafford, the new Chef de Cuisine at Fiorenzo, has been a part of Hyatt Hotels Food and Beverage team for the past nine years. A graduate of Hyatt’s Culinary Training Program, Stafford has served as a chef at Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego, Calif., Chef de Cuisine at Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa, and Sous Chef for Andaz Wall Street in New York, N.Y.

Chef Stafford has created Fiorenzo’s brand new menu with his own creative twist, featuring signature dishes such as chocolate papardelle, 20oz prime bone-in rib eye, and bison carpaccio.

Chef de Cuisine Jimmy Stafford carving out slices of cured Spanish Iberico ham in the Fiorenzo kitchen

The new menu is composed of prime steaks, seafood entrees, creative pizza and pasta dishes, as well as select wines from an extensive wine cellar.

Our waiter, a Mr. Gokhan, is the definition of great service, offering helpful suggestions and checking up on our dining experience throughout the evening, making sure our drinks were full without being too intrusive. He actually had quite a resume as well, having worked as a head waiter on the Royal Caribbean cruiseline.

We started our dinner with the bison carpaccio and the endive and watercress salad.

Carpaccio is the Italian dish consisting of raw meat or fish (such as beef, veal, venison, salmon or tuna), thinly sliced or pounded thin and seasoned with lemon, or vinegar, olive oil, salt and ground pepper. The dish was named carpaccio after Vittore Carpaccio, the Venetian painter known for the characteristic red and white tones of his work.

The Bison Carpaccio here at Fiorenzo, like many of the dishes crafted by Chef Stafford and his team, are no less a work of art – beautifully red, thinly sliced cuts of bison drizzled with tangy, sweet juniper lemon vinaigrette and topped with a dollop of house-made cucumber yogurt, crispy julienned strips of green apple, kohlrabi cabbage, and fresh horseradish. The bison itself is delightfully refreshing and reminded me a lot of tuna, not too gamey but distinctly different from beef. I also enjoyed the crunchy texture of the green apple when eaten together with the tender bison slices.


Green Apple, Kohlrabi, Fresh Horseradish, Cucumber Yogurt, Juniper Lemon Vinaigrette – $17

My dining partner similarly enjoyed her endive & watercress salad, a refreshingly creative and unique combination of endive, watercress, golden delicious apple slices, watermelon, feta cheese, and candied pistachios all topped with a sweet pistachio dressing. The salad was at once sweet and tart with the combination of apple and watermelon fruit, and also savory with the nutty pistachios. I would definitely call this one of the best salad dishes here in Orlando today and enjoyed it even more than the bison carpaccio.

Golden Delicious Apple, Watermelon, Feta Cheese, Candied Pistachios and Pistachio Dressing – $14

Fiorenzo also has a nice selection of cheese and cured meat plates. The cheeses range from Smoked Scamorza, to Gorgonzola Picante, Truffled Pecorino, and Burrata alla Panna while the cured meats include Finocchiona, Bresaola, Wild Boar Salami, and Jamon Iberico.

IMG_1881 CHEESE & CURED MEATS – Served with Condiments & Crostini
Cheese: Smoked Scamorza, Gorgonzola Picante, Truffled Pecorino, Burrata alla Panna
Cured Meats: Finocchiona, Bresaola, Wild Boar Salami, Jamon Iberico

One of the strongest points at Fiorenzo is their list of house made specialty pasta dishes unlike any others found in Orlando. Take the Vesuvio pasta dish, a fabulous dish made with vesuvio pasta served with a Butternut Squash sauce base and topped with fresh sauteed spinach, sweet pear, shaved ricotta salata cheese, and roasted pine nuts. These curvy, spirally, squiggly pasta are shaped to resemble Mount Vesuvius, the famed Italian volcanic mountain, and its sea-shell like shape helps scoop in the delicious butternut squash sauce. The dish really makes Fiorenzo an exciting stand out among all the other Italian restaurants out there.


VESUVIO PASTA – Butternut Squash, Spinach, Fresh Pear, Ricotta Salata, Roasted Pine Nuts – $12/$22


RISOTTO OF THE DAY – Local Corn Risotto

My dining partner thoroughly enjoyed her grilled branzino, a European seabass fish, served with roasted cauliflower, parsnip puree, and cured orange salmoriglio, while I chose the more traditional, but no less impressive, 20 ounce prime bone in ribeye steak, grilled to perfection to a requested medium rare.


Roasted Cauliflower, Mache, Parsnip Purée, Cured Orange Salmoriglio – $36




We did not get a chance to try the pizzas at Fiorenzo, but the selection looked great and from where we were sitting, we could see the chefs preparing the pizza orders for other patrons at the restaurant that evening, hot and fresh out of the oven.


PEPPERONI – Mozzarella Cheese, Pepperoni, Parmesan Cheese – $15
MARGHERITA – San Marzano Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella, Basil, Sea Salt, Olive Oil – $15
FUNGI – Mixed Mushrooms, Arugula Pesto, Truffled Pecorino Cheese – $17
BLANCO – Roasted Garlic, Grilled Zucchini, Smoked Scamorza, Calabrian Chili – $15
SALSICCE – Lamb Sausage, Bitter Greens, Cured Olives, Ricotta, Mint

Chocolate Molten lava cake dessert at Fiorenzo
Chocolate Molten lava cake dessert at Fiorenzo
Mango fruit sorbet with blackberries
Mango fruit sorbet with blackberries

Fiorenzo Italian Steakhouse’s private room accommodates 50-100 people and the main dining room accommodates up to 200. Each month, Fiorenzo also hosts a wine dinner with a four-course menu. My dining partner and I were so impressed that we can not wait to return, especially with a group of our friends for a special occasion.

Patrons of Fiorenzo Italian Steakhouse enjoy complimentary valet parking (valid for visits 4 hours and less). Serving dinner daily from 6p – 10p. To make a reservation call 407-345-4570 or click here.

Fiorenzo Italian Steakhouse at Hyatt Regency Orlando
9801 International Drive,
Orlando, Florida, USA, 32819

Fiorenzo Italian Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Do you ever crave pasta? I’m talking about a giant bowl of pasta that could feed at least five people. Well, I recently had one of those days and decided to head to Italio in Winter Park. I’ve been to Italio twice in the past but never really paid attention to the food. The past few times were more  “Get food in my stomach and head to wherever in a hurry” instances. However, I never left fully satisfied and wanted to know why.

If you’ve never been to Italio, it’s a visual sensation, showcasing bold red tones and Italian embellishments. The concept is fast casual like Chipotle, but feels slightly nicer. At Italio, you are able to choose a piada (wrap), noodles, or salad bowl. There are three main sauces, and an overwhelming amount of toppings.

If you’re not a control freak, there are prefixed “Chef Selections” to choose from.


Chef’s Menu 

I ended up making my own pasta bowl, because that’s the true meaning of happiness. The Italio employee asked me to pick between two types of noodles: whole wheat or regular. I obviously opted for the regular. Next, I was asked to pick something from the grill. My options were steak, chicken, chicken fritte (breaded), shrimp, italian sausage, meatball, and veggie. As someone who doesn’t like complicated options, I chose the chicken. Selecting the sauce was a challenge since I had to try all three of them. Here’s what I thought:

1) Basil Pomodoro: Tastes like Tostidos Salsa. Bland and boring.

2) Artisan Alfredo: Creamy but lacks flavor. The claimed “garlic” does not exist in flavor.

3) Spicy Prima Rosa: This sauce is neither spicy or creamy, so it completely failed the taste test.
I ended up going with the Artisan Alfredo since it stood out from the rest.


For the toppings, I ended up selecting mushroom, roasted red peppers, chickpeas, roasted garlic, and mozzarella.


Here’s the honest truth, and this is from eating here a total of three times:

– The food is NEVER hot; it’s always an awkward lukewarm. It would be great if my pasta was steaming!

-The Alfredo sauce is devastatingly boring. I tried using the roasted garlic and mozzarella to give it more flavor but it didn’t work. The sauce reminded me of my first time trying to make Alfredo when I was seven. 

– The assortment of toppings is amazing. I’m going to try a salad next time. Maybe it’ll be dynamic.

– The bowl is huge, so you will get full but you won’t walk out extremely impressed. However, the concept is fast casual and not a fine Italian restaurant. Don’t set your expectations high. 

– The staff makes me sad. When I asked to try the sauces, they acted like it was a huge burden.


On the bright side, Italio has one treasure I’ll keep coming back for.



I’m not a cannoli person by any means. but their take on filled cannolis is really amazing. They are in the form of chips and are served with a creamy cannoli dip. The combination is mind blowing. However, the dip was slightly powder sugary on my  latest visit. Maybe it’s hit or miss? Either way, try the cannoli chips if anything!

Italio – Winter Park
276 S Orlando Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 960-1860

Olive Garden consists of 800 restaurants inspired by the foods and wines of Italy. They’re known for their warmth and caring family of hosts, waiters and waitresses. On April 9th, I was able to experience their warmth and was treated as family when I paid a visit after hearing rumors of a new menu for 2014.

Although the people of Olive Garden were great, I can’t say the same about all of the new food menu – some were hits, and some were real misses. The lighting was also very dim, which provided a nice relaxing atmosphere to enjoy after a long day of work. However, I have a feeling that the dim lighting was also to conceal how the food was not presentable and didn’t make me say: “YES! I’m excited to try this!”



The dinner menu features a number of things and started out well with the greatly known breadsticks that were moist, warm and full of flavor!


Polenta Shrimp alla Greca was nicely presented with a refreshing taste. The shrimp were made just right, but make sure you take the tail off before consuming.


The Spicy Calabrian Wings were my favorite dish of the evening! It was zesty and just to my liking! I could eat this all day. Note: if you are sensitive to hot and spicy food, you may want to take your time and test one before ordering a large number.



The Crispy Risotto Bites consisted of a dense and creamy risotto with bits of mozzarella fried to have a crunchy outer shell to provide a nice contrast to the texture.


As you enjoy your appetizers, you can get your hands on a Peach Bellini frozen cocktail consisting of a blend of Zonin Prosecco and fresh peaches. This cocktail is nice to have on a hot day and is one of my favorites.


If you’re not in the mood for a frozen cocktail, maybe you can try a Strawberry-Limoncello Martini. This martini consists of Smirnoff Citrus Vodka, Caravella Limoncello and strawberries. This drink has a strong alcohol taste, but it is minimized a tad with the help of fresh strawberries.



The Antipasti Italian Meats and Cheese had a mixture of vegetables, meats and cheese that is usually served in Italy. From a healthy standpoint, you may pass on this, as the vegetables present won’t provide much nutrition and the deli meat toppers will probably raise your sodium levels and cholesterol. The dish came as seen in the photo and seem as though it was put together in a hurry and cut right out of their individual packaging.


The Roasted Tomato Caprese is a lighter salad. I like this better than the Antipasti Italian Meats and Cheese. The kale is crunchy, the salad is colorful and the mozzarella bites are a delight. Each vegetable provided a different texture and different taste to your palate. The roasted tomatoes were scarce and those that were found were bitter. The dressing they used for this salad was the same for the other salad; both had Italian dressing.


Smashed Chicken Meatball Sandwich


The Smashed Chicken Meatball Sandwich is nicely presented with a side of fries with a garlic seasoning sprinkled on top. The sandwich had fluffy buns that were rich in flavor. The chicken patty itself did not have a texture you’d imagine chicken to have as though it was over-processed and synthetic. The fries were limp and cold to eat.

The “Cucina Mia” section will allow you to create your own entrée out of six different pastas and five different sauces. Although they say the sauces are “made-from-scratch”, they tasted like any other sauce you can buy in your local grocery store at any brand.


The Large Paccheri with Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato and Chicken Meatballs was bland, had only a hint of sauce and had what it said in the name: a single, small “sun-dried tomato”.


When taken apart, the meatball doesn’t look appealing; its taste wasn’t pleasant either and reminded me of the texture of cat food. The large paccheri were rolled up tight or suctioned together to one another. The “creamy” sauce noted on the menu description didn’t exist. It was more of a drop of sauce given that didn’t even provide emollient between the paccheri.


All I have to say about the Vegetable Penne Primavera is that it is very bland, maybe more than Chef Boyardee from the can.



The Chicken Abruzzi was nicely presented and can be greatly paired with a Pinot Grigio or any white wine. I like the Pinot Grigio because of how smooth it is and is easy on the taste.


The Pappardelle Pescatore consisted of fresh seafood and asparagus. Yet, that doesn’t make up for how watery and flavorless the sauce and pappardelle was.


The Chicken Primavera with Giant Fusilli was overpowered by a heavy hand of basil. Other than that, it did not have much flavor. Although the lightness demonstrates “Leggeri,” which means “lighter Italian fare,” the moist chicken tasted very gelatinous.


The Wild Berry Layer Cake was very refreshing and moist. I believe the actual cake was soaked into sweet milk and reminded me of the Tres Leches cake that can be traced back to Central America and Mexico. If you have a major sweet tooth, you can try this cake!


The Caffè Mocha Latte (above) and Caramel Hazelnut Macchiato (not shown) were very watery and did not have very much coffee inside.


To have any hint of coffee/espresso/caffeine, Lavazza Espresso was added. Each specialty coffee was paired with sweet biscotti that I like with or without the coffee.

All in all, the new menu is a great effort from the Olive Garden, however it falls far short of its goal. The best dish to get would be the spicy calabrian wings.

Olive Garden on Urbanspoon

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Although most readers may be familiar with A Land Remembered, one of my favorite places for steak in town – nearby Cala Bella – also located at Rosen Shingle Creek – is not on most people’s radars even though it is one of the few AAA Four Diamond rated restaurants in town.


Cala Bella is Rosen Shingle Creek’s upscale Italian restaurant features inspired Italian classics with a Mediterranean and American twist, accompanied by an extensive wine list.

The inspiration of the name Cala Bella, or “Beautiful Creek” in English, comes from owner Mr. Harris Rosen’s celebration of Florida’s history and the unique history of Shingle Creek itself.


Visitors can sit in the main dining room and enjoy the sunset over the golf course outside or view the open kitchen and watch the chefs prepare dishes over open flames.

The Cala Bella sampler platter is a good start, a hearty platter filled with house made meatballs, calamari fritte, bruschetta Cala Bella, and antipasto.


My dining partner, a seafood lover, ordered the Cala Bella seafood pescatore – a must try, slightly spicy, very flavorful and earthy saffron tomato broth serves as the base for this dish in which Australian lobster tail, Little Neck clams, mussels, shrimp, and scallops are braised.

Cala Bella seafood pescatore
Cala Bella seafood pescatore

I ordered the hefty, succulent rack of marinated herb roasted Cala Bella New Zealand lamb chops with pickled garlic, shallots, and rosemary minted marsala, accompanied with a side of the daily risotto. Fantastic.

 Cala Bella New Zealand lamb chops
Cala Bella New Zealand lamb chops


Prices are geared more towards the expense account carriers out there, but locals can have a good bargain by going on and getting a discounted gift certificate to Cala Bella to make it more budget friendly.

Cala Bella Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Located in the heart of Orlando’s Downtown Arts District, the Grand Bohemian is an artistic boutique hotel designed to inspire unforgettable experiences.  Also a member to The Kessler Collection portfolio, each hotel’s art, music, and cultural influences are personally acquired for that hotel by the Kessler family.

I had the opportunity to take a group tour to explore the hotel and view the Kessler Collection Signature Grand Bohemian Gallery celebrating the work of French artist, Jean Claude Roy.  The last stop on our tour ended at the hotel’s restaurant located on the first floor named, “The Boheme”.

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Our group received a five course meal prepared by Executive Chef Laurent Hollaender from northeastern France.  Chef Hollander’s execution in all his dishes surpassed expectations, and the group dinner was filled with good conversation and good company.

Chef Hollaender’s style of cooking consists of Italian influences finished with a touch of elegance.  Chef Hollaender’s dishes are a true work of art as they are not only visually appealing but quite satisfying on the lips.  His dishes were in fact impressive.

Be aware that the menu at The Boheme changes every month, so make sure to check out the menu regularly.

Get in my belly.

Salmon Tarate served in a Cucumber Crown and Quail Egg
Eating directions: Pour quail over salmon and stir in blackened salt to taste.
Choice of Wine – Cremant Brut Rose, Lucien Albrecht
Duck Foie Gras Terrine, Smoked Duck Breast, Toasted Brioche Beets and Carrot Chutney
Choice of Wine – Gewürztraminer, Trimbach
Lobster, Sea Bass and Mussels Ravioli with Onion Compote White Wine Butter Sauce and Lobster Reduction
So smooth and creamy. It tasted like heaven on Earth. If this is what heaven tastes like, I’m ready for my afterlife.
Choice of Wine – Pouilly-Fuisse, Louis Jadot
Grilled Petit Filet Mignonette with Morels and Chanterelles Sauce Pommes Anna, Fall Vegetables
Choice of Wine – CIGALUS, Gerard Bertrand
According to the Grand Bohemian staff, this wine “can’t compete with any other wine in the world.”
Cabernet Sauvignon (50%) and Merlot (50%)
Dessert: TARTE MOELLUSE AU CHOCOLATE ET CRIOTTES Marinated Cherries in Brandy from Sarlat, Valrhona Chocolate Hanache, French Vanilla Ice Cream. The design of this dish was inspired by French artist Jean Claude Roy, who joined our table for dessert. Choice of Wine- Banylus, Chapoutier
Menu signed by Jean Claude Roy


After dinner, the staff at Grand Bohemian generously gifted each of us with a portrait made of chocolate that was painted by Jean Claude Roy himself. Although it is edible, but it’s too pretty to eat. For now I will keep this chocolate portrait framed on my wall.

You are what you eat. After this dinner, I would consider myself elegant.

Photos taken by Krystle Nguyen with the Nikon D5000 DSLR

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Siro Italian Urban Orlando

On Saturday January 26, 2013, Orlando World Center Marriott opened their newest restaurant, Siro: Urban Italian Kitchen, which takes the place of their previous Italian restaurant Ristorante Tuscany. I recently re-visited the restaurant through a contest that I won via twitter and was delighted that my first impressions were still correct this second time around.

From artisan cured meats and cheeses, small plates (“Assadare” (shearable) style) and fresh market vegetables, dishes served on oversized wooden planks, thin-crust pizzas and house-made pastas to various meats and fish selections, Siro has made a strong emphasis on quality sourced food.

This is immediately evident in the quality and the freshness of the vegetables and ingredients used in the dishes we tried this evening – everything was like it was picked today straight off a farm from the corn to the arugula in the salads.

The meal, overall, was fantastic. Photos follow —



Siro Italian Urban Orlando
Brudo’s Famous Veal Meatballs in Pomodoro tomato sauce

Siro Italian Urban Orlando
Tuna two ways – Ahi Tuna Crudo

Siro Italian Urban Orlando
Octopus Salad with Garbanzo Beans – perfectly sliced and prepared

Siro Italian Urban Orlando
Siro’s Seasonal fresh salad

Siro Italian Urban Orlando
Bone Marrow with toasted bread – nutritious, tasty and soft, reminiscent of the texture of egg and oysters

Siro Italian Urban Orlando

Local Catch of the Day – Corvina in lemon caper sauce

Siro Italian Urban Orlando Marriott World Center
Ricotta Gnudi – Braised Local Chicken Ragu

Siro Italian Urban Orlando

Beef tenderloin roast of the day with potato fries

Siro Italian Urban Orlando

This young gentlemen chef came from New Orleans and brought a very unique technique from his experience there in preparing the potato fries that give it a very special airy puff – the potatoes are cut very thin and then blanched and quickly fried, allowing for a crunchy, airy potato fry.

Siro Italian Urban Orlando

Dessert spread – Zeppoles, Italian cookies, cannoli, gelato, tiramisu


Siro Italian Urban Orlando

The view of the grotto pool at the Marriott Orlando World Center – beautiful!

 Big thank you to the folks at the Orlando World Center Marriott for the wonderful stay and the fantastic chefs at Siro for a lovely meal.

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Free Food Day – Grand opening of Italio’s Winter Park location on Wednesday March 6th –

Enjoy a free entree and sample one of Italio’s fast, fresh Italian piadinas, pasta bowls, or salads. Offer good on March 6, 2013. Only one entrée per person. Valid only at the following location: 276 South Orlando Ave., Winter Park, FL 32789. Must be present.

Beware of long lines…


I was recently invited to a special preview of Italio and had a chance to taste and experience some of the restaurant’s concepts. The concept, for those who are familiar with Chipotle, is fast-casual. Order up at the front counter where the staff prepare the dish items to your “customization”. It’s a great concept for those of us who are in a hurry but don’t want the typical “fast food” experience….and it’s executed fairly well here at Italio. I can foresee a great future for the chain, with already one opened in Boca and another scheduled to open in Ft. Lauderdale this summer. The Italio on US 17-92 just north of Fairbanks Avenue in Winter Park is the first in Central Florida.

When first walking into Italio, I noticed how immaculately clean and sharp everything looked, from the exterior design to the interior’s marble-like tables and fanciful lighting. Definitely a well designed restaurant, with key red color accents known to psychologically trigger guests hungry.

At the counter, you can order a piadina (a type of Italian wrap) or bowl (in pasta or salad form). Then, you can add your traditional or whole wheat pasta, add your protein choice (steak, chicken, fried chicken, shrimp, sausage, or veggie), sauce, and toppings. The sauces are basil pomodoro, alfredo, or spicy prima rosa (a mix of pomodoro and alfredo). Toppings range from black olives to arugula, pancetta and parmesan cheeses.

You can also order calamari misto ( a favorite), italio sticks ( made with piadina wraps) with your choice of cheese, pepperoni, or spinach & artichoke.. Desserts come as cannoli chips or tiramisu cake.

Overall, my impressions were positive. For a fast casual place, the food was rather fresh and surprisingly didn’t leave me feeling too heavy/guilty after wards. I particularly enjoyed the piadina wrap, a wrap that reminded me of the textures of roti or scallion pancakes, thin and chewy and buttery. A brief look at its history shows us that the piadina has been around for a while — since 1371 to be exact. It was typically prepared in the northern region of Italy called Romagn and was an “ancient” form of flatbread

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Italio on Urbanspoon

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On Saturday January 26, 2013, Orlando World Center Marriott opened their newest restaurant, Siro: Urban Italian Kitchen, which takes the place of their previous Italian restaurant Ristorante Tuscany. I was recently invited by the team at Siro’s to sample some of their dishes during a media event. The space has undergone major renovations, now highlighting a more warm, wooded and industrial atmosphere…which reminded me of a particular favorite restaurant of mine in Winter Park.

I was delighted to find that the new philosophy for the restaurant was an emphasis on seasonal, local ingredients. More and more restaurants are turning toward local and seasonal and I wholeheartedly support this movement, particularly because the food tastes so much better when it isn’t being shipped from halfway across the world.

The list of local farms and ingredients include:

Lake Meadow Farms – eggs and honey
Harvest Moon – produce
Seely’s Ark – chicken thighs
Dansk Farms – honey
Waterkist Farms – heirloom tomatoes
Cedar Creek farms –little neck clams
Infusion Tea- hot tea
Oyster Island mushroom company- asst. mushrooms
Monroe Ashby- pig
Coffee Roasters’ Alliance -coffee
Two Doves Organic Farm- lettuce, Swiss chard, kale.
Cigar City Brewing – craft beer

They will start using Palm Ridge whiskey in the next few weeks as well.

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Aged Italia – Breckenridge bourbon, blood orange aged balsamic, blackberry syrup

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Beer flights featuring craft beer and imports

From artisan cured meats and cheeses, small plates and fresh market vegetables, dishes served on oversized wooden planks, thin-crust pizzas and house-made pastas to various meats and fish selections, Siro has made a strong emphasis on quality sourced food.  Some of my favorites included the  Green, eggs & ham pizza with arugula, prosciutto, sunny side egg, the housemade burger, Chef Burdo’s veal meatballs, and the zeppole donuts for dessert.

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Executive Chef Burdo at the helm of Siro: Urban Italian Kitchen

These signature dishes enhance the restaurant’s extensive drink menu, as bartenders and mixologists prepare handcrafted Italian classics from the Negroni and Aperol Spritz to the “The Artisan,” Lemoncello Martini – complete with fresh squeezed juices and fragrant herbs.

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Chef Burdo’s Famous Veal meatballs in a pomodoro tomato sauce

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Siro’s Charcuterie boards of cheeses, olives, and cured meats

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Eggplant Caponata served with whipped ricotta cheese on bakehouse bread

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Arborio fritters, made with rice robiola, black garlic, and a spicy arrabiata sauce

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Margherita Pizza

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Bucatini pasta with the red lead, a traditional sunday gravy

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The BuRGeR – oWC bakehouse bun, house pickles

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Preparing the whole Grilled Grouper, served with braised fennel, peperonato

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Braised pork shank on top of white beans

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Aged Italia
Breckenridge bourbon, blood
orange aged balsamic,
blackberry syrup

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Desserts, like this panna cotta – milk chocolate, berries, are led by award winning pastry chef Ramon Perez

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Chocolate Cake

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Siro accommodates 199 guests – 143 in the main dining room and 56 on the patio – for everyday dining and special events. The early-evening menu, from 4 – 6 pm, features Antipasti, small plates, pizza and blackboard specials, in addition to a full bar. Dinner, from 6 – 11 pm, features a full menu.

For additional information on Siro, call Orlando World Center Marriott at 407-239-4200 or visit and

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Anna of the Zimmerman Agency with Mark Baratelli of and Rachelle Lucas of Visit Florida Dining and

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The wonderful staff and chefs of Siro: Urban Italian Kitchen at Orlando World Center Marriott

Siro: Urban Italian Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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Founded by the creative team from Luma on Park, Executive Chef Brandon McGlamery and featuring Chef de cuisine Matt Cargo, has brought to life Prato, the new Park Avenue hotspot with a menu that brings out the flavors of Italy with a local flair. The menu here, changing seasonally, celebrates cuisine from Italy’s rich culinary landscape, blending Italian classics with modern techniques and seasonal ingredients.

Prato winter park restaurant

The ambiance is one of a rustic farmhouse blended with a modern, communal lounge feel, complete with a long u-shaped bar, high ceilings, and large window-paned doors. The waiters here, all attentive and gracious, are dressed in plaid shirts like they just got off the farm – the theme continues. Water is served in half-glass bottles along with complimentary bread. Towards the back of the restaurant is the open kitchen, where patrons  sitting back there can see all the action like an episode of one of those reality cooking shows on Bravo.  The restaurant is all anchored around two imported Acunto wood-burning ovens from Naples, Italy, lightly touching each baked dish with a signature, smoky finish.

Prato Winter Park Wood burning ovens

Imported Acunto wood-burning ovens from Naples, Italy

Fresh, creative salads, pizzas, pastas, and entrees dominate the menu, utilizing locally sourced produce, responsibly farmed meats, and sustainable seafood. Start with the red snapper crudo, a refreshing plate of slices of raw red snapper, drizzled with a pistachio-currant vinaigrette and served with sliced radishes. Squash blossoms stuffed with ricotta, roasted chiles, and almonds or roasted butternut squash salads with burrata mozzarella and field greens are all fantastic when in season.


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The widowmaker pizza, consisting of fennel sausage, arugula, toscano, romesco sauce, and a local farm egg, over easy, baked in the center. The golden yolk is just perfect for dipping and sharing – which is what I did on several recent visits to Prato with friends. The signature Prato meatballs, available only at dinner (they are served as a sandwich item at lunch), are made and ground in house with veal, pork, beef and a host of other wonderful ingredients and served in a roasted tomato sauce with cippolini onions agrodolce – perfecto.

The pastas, also hand made in house are delightful: ranging from the duck ragu bolognese rigatoni to the laughing bird shrimp ravioli, one of my favorites here. Entree items also include popular dishes like the chicken leg candito served with apricot mostarda and marble potato and the short rib “brasato”, served with soffritto on garlic crostini and topped with a poached farm egg.

Save room for dessert: the chocolate sea salt hazelnut budino pudding and the luscious tiramisu in a jar are surely worth the few extra calories. An extensive bar menu is also available with wines from Spain and Italy, craft beers from Cigar City Brewing, and delicious cocktails like the amalfi sunset, made with limoncello, house grenadine, fresh orange juice and cherries.

Prices are very reasonable for the quality of food that you get, there are even half-order options for those who who desire smaller carb loads.

Prato has a lot of heart and you can feel it vibrating through those wood ovens, the waiters, pizzas, and pastas, in all the ingredients. It’s one of the reasons why I can see myself going back there again and again. It’s probably why a lot of the people who crowd Prato in the weekend evenings do so, too. Make sure to have a reservation if you go.



snapper crudo

 Red Snapper Crudo, a refreshing plate of slices of raw red snapper, drizzled with a pistachio-currant vinaigrette and served with sliced radishes


butternut squash salad

 Roasted butternut squash salad with burrata mozzarella and field greens


duck bolognese bigoli pasta prato

 Duck bolognese bigoli pasta


widow maker pizza prato egg

Widowmaker pizza – fennel sausage, arugula, toscano, romesco sauce, and a local farm egg, over easy, baked in the center.


braised short rib prato egg

Short rib “brasato”, served with soffritto on garlic crostini and topped with a poached farm egg.


laughing bird shrimp ravioli

 Laughing bird shrimp ravioli


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tiramisu in a jar

House made Tiramisu in a jar

Prato on Urbanspoon

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