Pizza

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

Roque Pub is a fun and local spot where you can stop by and meet your friends for a drink or enjoy a meal throughout the day. We were invited to taste a few dishes and drinks offered. With drinks, there are over 450 different beers and 20 different wines. I was happy to see that they had one of my all time favorites – KilKenny Irish Red Nitro!

Chef Eva likes to add zest to her dishes and create beauty in her masterpieces. From time to time, she’ll create a new flavor or item for the menu. You can try any of these if you ask what the Chef’s specialty is for the day you visit.

We started with the Spinach & Artichoke Dip. It consists of spinach, artichokes and a blend of jarlsberg, asiago, mozzarella, parmesan, and cream cheese/served with tortilla chips. The dip is delightful and requested by all. It is nice and creamy from all the cream cheese added.

The Silo was suggested by Chef Eva as guests tend to order. Chef Eva also mentioned how she has a lot of fun making this dish. It consists of roast beef, jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, and garlic aioli sauce on a toasted ciabatta roll. The ingredients used are very fresh and you taste it with each bite. The flavors are very subtle and I would like it to be equally spread out for each bite.

Wings are a staple at any bar that serves food. This dish is 10 savory wings tossed in your choice of one our signature hot, teriyaki or dry rub wing sauces. Served with a side of celery and your choice of ranch or bleu cheese.

The wings we tried had a special sauce Chef Eva created with apricots, chili and ginger. It has a brilliant mix of sweet and spicy. The wings are steamed as the first step of cooking these.

The Publican is a Philly Steak flatbread with jack cheese, cream cheese, green peppers, onions, and Italian seasoning. It is a great drunk food and wouldn’t mind ordering a few for myself and my friends after a few drinks. The cheeses on the flatbread are very fresh and flavorful; the cheese has to be my favorite part.

Chef Eva has a limited amount of space and supplies in the kitchen, which gives her more credit to her creations due to the steps she takes to make the dishes. For instance, her creative flavors she added to the wings for this visit.

The Roque Pub family is very small but loving towards one another as well as their guests. They host many events for you to discover on their Facebook account, which includes an upcoming beer and wings pairing. For more information, check out their Facebook or website.

Egg N’ Bacon Pizza.  This was my favorite!

We were invited to check out the new MidiCi Daytona Beach, Pink Narcissus Daytona Beach, Clair de Lune and Kasa Living during their First Day of Summer in Style Event at ONE DAYTONA.  ONE DAYTONA is a new outdoor shopping, restaurant and entertainment center located across the street from the World’s First Motorsports StadiumDaytona International Speedway.  We really enjoyed checking out this new addition in Daytona Beach aka “World’s Most Famous Beach” and we are looking forward to our visit again next week!

Special promotion:  Use code “CDLINFLUENCER” at Clair de Lune and Kasa Living for 30% off regular price items with white tags in store.  Expires July 21, 2018.

MidiCi Daytona is the restaurant’s second location in Florida.  Their first location is in Kissimmee and their third location will be in Maitland.

House Meat Board


House Cheese Board


Burrata With Melon & Prosciutto


Purple Kale & Ricotta Salad

Double Pepperoni

The Margherita

White (Blanca)

The Meats

Signature Nutella Calzone

Uplifting message in the women’s restroom mirror

I love that they have these hand prints at both MidiCi locations.

Pink Narcissus, a Lilly Pulitzer signature store

Lilly Pulitzer swimwear

Little Lilly

A Lilly Pulitzer artist painted all the walls in the fitting rooms

Erin modeling in the Lilly Pulitzer fashion show

Little Lilly Pulitzer fan Madeleine with store manager Alex

Thank you Pink Narcissus for the amazing gift bags filled with Lilly Pulitzer goodies!!

Hands down the best gift bags that I have ever received at a media event!  Thank you Hayworth PR, Pink Narcissus Daytona Beach, MidiCi’s Daytona Beach, Clair de Lune and Kasa Living, Ben & Jerry’s Daytona Beach, Plato’s Closet Daytona Beach and ONE DAYTONA!

Kasa Living – Daytona Beach is the first location in the U.S.  The company’s first location is in Hawaii.

“Cactus Fever” at Kasa Living

BEFORE.  We got to design our own tablescape!

AFTER!!! <3

Clair de Lune specializes in home decor and fragrances, including aromatic lamps and decorative candles.

That’s all, folks!

Be sure to check out the new ONE DAYTONA complex the next time you are in Daytona Beach!

MidiCi
1860 Victory Circle Daytona Beach FL 32114
(386) 492-9240
http://mymidici.com

Pink Narcissus
230 Daytona Blvd, Daytona Beach, FL 32114
(386) 256-1234
http://facebook.com/Pink-Narcissus-Daytona-Beach-161209781146667

Clair de Lune and Kasa Living
1 Daytona Blvd Daytona Beach, FL 32114
(386) 267-8851
http://kasaliving.ca

Kevin Pabis, son of local food bloggers Richard and Irina Pabis (@celebritychef4u).

We were invited to Main Event Entertainment to eat, bowl, and play!  The food offerings were all delicious!  You have to try their Skillet Mac & Cheese which consists of cavatappi pasta, grilled chicken, applewood smoked bacon, creamy blend of melted cheeses, green onions topped with CHEEZ-IT crumbs.  CHEEZ-IT are one of my life-long favorite snacks.  Throw some of its crumbs on top of a loaded-baked chicken/bacon mac & cheese and you’re golden.

Tomato Caprese Skewers – served with balsamic drizzle (these were super popular at our table, a blogger’s son said that it was his favorite dish!)

Calamari – zesty marinara sauce and fresh shaved parmesan cheese

Chicken Quesadilla – grilled chicken, jack & cheddar cheese, chipotle mayo &fresh made pico de Gallo (this was my mom’s favorite dish!)

Roast Beef Dippers– shaved roast beef, horseradish mayo, lettuce, tomato, red onion served on buttery garlic knot bun

Italian Pesto Pizza – fresh basil, roasted potatoes, caramelized onions, creamy basil pesto,feta, mozzarella & provolone cheese

Assorted Dessert Bars – lemon, raspberry rhapsody, pecan chocolate chip, & caramel, oatmeal

Cinnamon Sugar Donuts – with salted caramel and raspberry sauce

A variety of gelato.

Billards.

VIP bowling lanes.

Bar area with alcoholic beverage options.

Bowling alley.

A variety of arcade games.  Everyday deal:  1/2 price games 10pm to close.

Local food bloggers Ashelyn Vazquez (@orlandomag) with her guest, and Sean (@orlandofoodguys).

Samantha (@samantheah) & Mattia Joyce Castellano (@mattia_joyce) racing on the motorcycles

Carolina Grabova (@carolinagrabova) plays a racing game for her instagram story.

My favorite game at the arcade was their zombie-killing game in the first ever roam-free virtual reality room.  I don’t have a photo of it but I do have a video clip of it on my instagram (@bytiffanynguyen). Imagine a game that doesn’t feel like a game.  Where your body is the controller and your mind believes it’s real.  It was so realistic that other attendees were seriously spooked after they finished playing!  I enjoyed playing it though and I am looking forward to coming back and playing it again.  Be sure to check out Main Event Entertainment next time you are in the I-Drive area to experience the zombie-killing game for yourself!

(Source credit: Main Event Entertainment)

Main Event Entertainment – Pointe Orlando
9101 International Dr Suite 1032, Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 352-3300
mainevent.com

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)
pizzabrunofl.com

 

Peanut Pad Thai With Seasoned Grilled Shrimp
Do you love delicious food, crafty cocktails, and fun games?  If your answer is yes, than KINGS Orlando is the perfect place to be any day of the week!

We were invited to check out KINGS Orlando, an upscale dining and entertainment venue.  During our visit we got to try a few items from their Asian-inspired menu (pictured below) and we also got to bowl.  We had so much fun cannot wait to go back! Our server Kimberly was super friendly, engaging, and down-to-earth.  Her communication skills were on point so we always knew what was going on at all times.  Kimberly was the best server that I’ve ever had and I know she is going to go far in the KINGS company one day SOON!

Free game on Sunday with lunch reservation
Fried Bang Bang Calamari
Buffalo Chicken Wontons
Peanut Pad Thai With Seasoned Grilled Shrimp (my favorite!)
Baja Street Tacos With Seasoned Grilled Shrimp
Private room
Be sure to check out KINGS Orlando soon for food, fun, and more!
Kings Dining & Entertainment
8255 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 363-0200
kings-de.com/orlandokings-de.com/orlando

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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.com (@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.com (@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.com (@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 LifeWithLisa.com (@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.com (@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 NoLimitsbySilviaCervi.com (@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.com (@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 OrlandoTastes.com (@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.

Appetizers:

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

Dessert

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

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

Hazelnut and Vanilla gelato

Espresso

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
http://mymidici.com

*Secret Menu Item* The Mexican Pizza – A fried flour tortilla is topped with your choice of protein, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, tomato sauce, jalapeño and a drizzle of sour cream.  This was my favorite!

 

We were invited to Tijuana Flats near Millenia Mall to try items from their “Secret Menu” as well as some classic items.

Tijuana Flats was was founded in Winter Park, FL in 1995 by University of Central Florida graduate Brian Wheeler with $20,000 in loans.  Tijuana Flats now has 136 locations in 6 states.

The Tijuana Flats Manifesto is their Declaration of Independence, their Dead Sea Scrolls.   It’s everything they believe in expressed in a single stream of madcap consciousness.  You’ll find it displayed in every Tijuana Flats location.

Tijuana Flats’ regional manger, Joey.  He has been with the company for 19 years.  He is super nice.  To the right is our wonderful host, Sarah.

The store manager for their Millenia location, Mike.  He is a super cool guy!

The talented kitchen staff!  They did a great job with everyone’s food!

Chips & Dip – A basket of warm chips, with a side of handmade salsa, queso or guacamole.

*Secret Menu Item* The Double Stack tacos is available in chicken or steak.  Queso is spread across a soft flour tortilla then wrapped around a hard-shell taco – filled with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, jalapeño and sour cream.

*Secret Menu Item* The Bangin Chicken Tostadas – crispy fried chicken cubes tossed in a buffalo sauce with refried beans, tomatoes, cheese, and a drizzle of ranch.  Served with a side of salsa.

Cookie Dough Flauntas – Chocolate chip cookie dough loaded into a flour tortilla, lightly fried & topped with powdered sugar.  Served with a side of chocolate syrup.

I won a free bottle of sweet chili hot sauce during trivia!

Founder Brian Wheeler created his own line of hot sauces.  The “Smack My Ass & Call Me Sally” brand includes some of the hottest sauces in the world.

Be sure to check out the Tijuana Flats location near the Mall at Millenia!  They did a wonderful job hosting us and providing great Tex-Mex food!

(Source credit: Tijuana Flats)

Tijuana Flats
94693 Gardens Park Blvd., Orlando, FL 32839
(407) 965-5090
https://tijuanaflats.com

Happy 2018, Food Friends!

Can we all agree that glitter and unicorn desserts are so 2017? Well maybe not, but a girl can dream.

I caught up with some of Orlando’s coolest chefs to find out what they see coming to a table near you in 2018, and here’s what they had to say.

The Verdict:

  • Crazy desserts are out; smaller, savory sweets are in
  • Asian eats are here to stay
  • RIP to unnecessary gluten-free dishes
  • Say hello to veg cuisine, it’s here and it’s not playing

HAWKERS Asian Street Fare – Kaleb Harrell 

“Ethnic desserts – We are revamping our entire dessert line because we feel customers are ready. Desserts that have a savory edge, are fruit-based, or just have ingredients outside of mainstream will gain popularity as the size of desserts decreases. Today’s customer would rather have a few bites of something amazing to end their meal than a bowl of corn syrup.

Savory cocktails – This one has been on the fringe for a while, but I think 2018 is the year for savory cocktails to take hold.  Think meat stocks, dry rub ingredients, and vegetable instead of fruit juices. 

Fast and fresh – This is the mecca for market share in lunch business.  A few companies are doing well and expanding quickly, but it’s a race to see who keeps consistency. Virtually every diner is looking for a fast, and ultra fresh lunch option. How many days can you eat a Chick-fil-A salad for lunch?

Vinegars and sours – Fermented flavors are gaining more popularity and will continue in the next year. Look for pickling, fermenting, gourmet mustards, and generally bold flavors in small quantities to continue.  Cheese and charcuterie are amazing, but the accoutrements are starting to take center stage.”

Black Rooster Taqueria – John Calloway

“I think we will see a lot of cauliflower. Gluten-free has reached its peak, so we will see more artisan and/or rustic breads and people milling their own flours.

Mexican will still be everywhere, but I believe Indian food is the next big cuisine.

Food as medicine will also be a big focus. From all of the juice bars to doctors and nutritionists prescribing specific foods and diets, we’ll be getting back to our roots with the earth healing our bodies.”

K Restaurant – Michelle Hulbert

“I think there will continue to be interest smaller desserts – that are portion-control friendly. Over-the-top, gigantic desserts will be a thing of the past. The healthier sides of sweets will include more seasonal fruits.  I think in general we will see a larger focus on vegetables as the star and less starch-heavy dishes.”

K Restaurant –  Ryan McLaughlin

“I think in 2018 we will see a continued movement toward more vegetable-forward dishes, a dedicated focus on limiting food waste, and an even stronger movement within the chef community to support small, sustainable farms that are focused on the ethical treatment of animals.”

Tapa Toro – Wendy Lopez 

“I see familiar foods becoming more prominent on menus at restaurants. Think pork rinds and hot dogs. They will be reimagined with new ingredients and presentations.

I think we’ll start to see lesser-known cuts of meat appear on menus around town – like Vegas strip and Oyster steak. We’ll start to see more family-style dining options at restaurants. At Tapa Toro, we see groups of people passing plates around the table. Why commit to one entree when you could try a little bit of everything?”

Pizza Bruno – Bruno Zacchini

“I’ll start with pizza! For me, I see Neapolitan pizza still going strong but new styles and types will become the next thing from Detroit squares to Roman thin crusts and artisan slice pies with farm-to-table ingredients. Pizza has so many styles most people have never seen so it’s really wide open.

Overall fast casual is going to keep happening and moving forward with counter service places and places focusing on singular dishes done extremely well.  Flavors for me are Middle Eastern, more regional Asian (think Bangrak), and Italian, of course! I also think that in 2018 we’ll continue to see veg-centric cuisine making its way onto more menus.”

Valhalla Bakery + Valkyrie Doughnuts – Celine Duvoisin 

“I see a bubble bursting of the stuff on stuff on stuff on stuff. (Not that I’m not going to do excessive shit until it dies.)

I think that more Asian popularity will happen, I foresee a rise in proper ramen coming to town and possibly Asian desserts. We’ve hit this wall of sugar hell, with no one hitting the less sweet almost savory desserts.

Hopefully an end to the gluten-free obsession.

My fingers are crossed for more Mediterranean-type places that focus on macro-based foods as fuel instead of insanely over designed places that don’t have the food to seal the deal.”


Is this roundup missing something, or are you seeing a trend worth sharing? Comment below and cheers to new year!

Snack on,
Chauniqua Major, but we’re friends so call me Major!

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Every September for the past three years, Mellow Mushrooms across the US have participated in “No Kid Hungry” a movement in order to stop child hunger in America. This year marks the 4th consecutive year they have participated in “No Kid Hungry” alongside many other restaurants as well.

Mellow Mushroom was founded in 1974 in Atlanta, GA with its focus on it’s art filled, family friendly environment alongside it’s freshly made stone baked pizzas. This Mellow Mushroom, located on the corner of Colonial and Alafaya has been frequented often by myself, from high school when I was just trying to find a cool spot to hang out to my undergraduate years when I found myself in need of food to cure the hangover brought on to myself the night prior.

Mellow is one of my go-to pizza establishments near campus, with it’s unique pizza recipes, various draft selections, and daily specials – who wouldn’t want to go?

Spinach Artichoke Dip
Spinach Artichoke Dip

We started first with an appetizer. We asked our very sociable waitress what she would recommend, and she immediately pointed towards the Spinach Artichoke Dip which was a favorite of hers. The dish includes freshly sauteed spinach blended with artichokes, mozzarella, parmesan Cheese, topped with shaved Parmesan and served with baked garlic toast. She also added that it would go great with the tomatoes on top as well, which she was in fact right. The dish was very rich and creamy, and each bite wanted you to come back for seconds, this was one of those items where you couldn’t just have one bite.

Gourmet White and the Magical Mystery Tour
Gourmet White and the Magical Mystery Tour

We then ordered our pizzas. While we munched on our appetizers, our waitress informed us that you could indeed select two different bases now with pizzas, that being said we decided to choose two different pizzas for the name of science (I mean Tasty Chomps).

Our first selection was the Gourmet White, with its olive oil and garlic base topped with sun-dried tomatoes, provolone, mozzarella, feta, roma tomatoes and onions. The Gourmet White was delicious – from outward appearance this was your typical pizza, but one could easily notice how much the fresh ingredients impacts the meal as well as the level of craftsmanship shown by Mellow Mushroom.

The various blends of cheese and tomatoes complimented each other well in perfect unison and each delectable bite called for you to bite into it once more.

The other pizza we had was the Magical Mystery Tour, a pesto based pizza with button and portobello mushrooms, mozzarella, spinach, feta and jalapenos. At first glance this pizza looked intimidatingly spicy with its jalapenos which were graciously peppered on top.

However at first bite this was not so, the peppers gave the dish some kick but not too unmanageable by those with an intolerance to spicy dishes. The variety of mushrooms and cheeses came together to give us a very delicious pizza in which every bite ushered forth different notes, starting with the kick of peppers, to the balancing of the mushrooms, and the calming of the creamy cheese.

Samuel Adams Octoberfest
Samuel Adams Octoberfest

But back to the philanthropy! When you visit a Mellow Mushroom location, share your moment with the hashtag #mellowcupcake or #nokidhungry, mellow mushroom will donate $3 to the cause. On top of that when you donate $10 you get a free small pizza and $25 or more gets you that as well as a free T-shirt! Last year 8,661 participating restaurants raised $8.9 million for the cause, this year Mellow Mushroom wants to raise $150,000 this month for No Kid Hungry.

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Check The Location Out!

http://mellowmushroom.com/store/Orlando

Help Donate!

http://www.mmnokidhungry.com/default.aspx?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1

 

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Tampa based Bavaro’s Pizza Napoletana & Pastaria has opened its first location in Orlando in Winter Springs this week. It will be open this week for dinner from 5pm-10pm starting this Monday, and starting next week, will be open for lunch as well from 11am-10pm.

The Napoletana style pizza is thin & soft with a slight crisp to the crust; with a nice smokey char to the pizza crust from the wood burning ovens and topped with ingredients imported from Italy or locally grown and organic. Dan Bavaro, the founder was taught by 3rd generation, Neapolitan families.

The restaurant bases their entire menu around a stunning Italian imported wood-fired brick oven, hand crafted by the Ferrara’s; a 3rd generation Neapolitan family. The restaurant also makes its own pastas and sauces, which are sold in stores such as Whole Foods, Winn-Dixie and Costco.

Chirag Kabrawala and his parttners have full-time day jobs (He’s an attorney and his 3 other partners include a cardiologist, hotel developer, and luxury tour operator), and despite their rigorous schedules, they made time each Thursday evening to meet at a local restaurant for pizza typically (pizza was the “lowest common denominator” because two of his partners are vegetarian and they could all agree on pizza).

Chirag told us, “While exploring for new styles of pizza, I introduced them to pizza cooked in the Neapolitan style; we took trips to Miami, Atlanta, NYC, and even Tampa, where we were fortunate enough to connect (and in my case, reconnect) with Dan Bavaro, who is making Neapolitan pizza that is arguably among the best being served in the United States. Although Dan was very much reluctant to expand his restaurants, we finally (after nearly a year) agreed to become “partners” with him (and not franchisees), ceding most control of the menu and operations of our restaurant, while us 4-partners preserve, enhance and maintain his vision by working in the restaurant nearly every day. ”

“We are cooking pizza in the Neapolitan style, and we’re very much proud to be offering truly homemade pasta and desserts, all prepared before you in our 100% open kitchen, where nearly every seat in the restaurant has a view of all kitchen operations.”

Bavaro’s
1468 Tuskawilla Road
Winter Springs, Florida
(321) 422-3600
http://bavarospizza.com/

Their dinner menu: http://bavarospizza.com/images/dinner.pdf#zoom=100%

A Sneak Peek Inside Bavaro’s

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Owner and Founder Dan Bavaro at the helm
Owner and Founder Dan Bavaro at the helm
Chefs make their own pastas in house
Chefs make their own pastas in house
Imported fine flour from Italy
Imported fine flour from Italy
The oven uses stacks of wood nearby
The oven uses stacks of wood nearby
The oven gets up and above 900 degrees
The oven gets up and above 900 degrees
The wood burning oven is imported from Italy
The wood burning oven is imported from Italy

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Cheesy garlic bread
Cheesy garlic bread
Verde salad
Verde salad
Organico Salad
Organico Salad

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Proscuitto pizza
Proscuitto pizza
Carne Pizza
Carne Pizza
Margherita Pizza
Margherita Pizza

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Lunch Service has begun!

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Mr. Chirag Kabrawala
Mr. Chirag Kabrawala
Panini
Panini
Deli panini
Deli panini
Pasta - Tagliatelle with Vodka sauce - the vodka sauce is addicting
Pasta – Tagliatelle with Vodka sauce – the vodka sauce is addicting
Margherita pizza with sausage, salami, and topped with egg
Margherita pizza with sausage, salami, and topped with egg
El Crudo Pizza
El Crudo Pizza

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There’s a new place in Orlando that will have your personalized pizza ready in just five minutes.

Pie Five Pizza Co. is the place – opening up just outside of UCF on University Blvd.

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You might be familiar with the concept – made popular by Chipotle and Subway.

Order at the counter and the folks prepare it assembly line style as you go down the line. They use a super hot oven to heat the pizza and have it ready for you by the time you finish paying at the cash register.

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At Pie Five, guests can create personal pizzas and a variety of specialty pie choices, all for one price. Typically a pizza, any way, is $6.99. Meaning a specialty pizza or a pizza with anything you want on it – all $6.99. Same goes with the salad. If you want to add an extra side salad and drink, it’s $2.99 more.

They offer 4 crusts (including pan, thin crust, gluten-free & whole grain) and have hand-made salads made from a pizza crust.

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Everything is prepared right on the spot and the entire meal will be ready in less than five minutes. I checked – it was under 5 minutes.

Pizza was good for $6.99, ingredients were fresh, and I really liked the customization. One thing that I thought could use improvement – the crust – a little bit too pedestrian, ho-hum, and if they can update that and make it tastier, it would be a really good pizza. For the price, it can’t be beat.

Blaze Pizza, another “chipotle” style pizza joint will be opening soon near by in the UCF area at the Plaza, so it should be interesting to see how business goes. It’s definitely a food trend to watch- custom pizza joints.

Let us know what you think – have you been to Pie Five? Is it something you’d try? Comment below!

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Pie Five Pizza Co. on Urbanspoon

Jet 10® Premium Mozzarella Cheese, Pepperoni, Ham, Mushrooms, Onions, Green Peppers, Hamburger, Italian Sausage, Bacon and Black Olives.

Eugene Jetts and his brother John Jetts opened the first Jet’s Pizza in 1978 in Sterling Heights, Michigan.

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Southeast Michigan is also known as the headquarters of some of the largest pizza chains in the United States, including Domino’s Pizza (Ann Arbor), Hungry Howies (Madison Heights), Jet’s Pizza (Sterling Heights), Happy’s Pizza (Southfield), and Little Caesars (Detroit).

The single menu item that Jet’s Pizza has become famous for, above anything else, is their signature deep-dish square pizza.

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Detroit-style pizza, developed in Detroit, Michigan, is a square pizza, unlike the round Chicago deep dish pizza, similar to Sicilian-style pizza that has a thick deep-dish crisp crust and toppings such as pepperoni and olives, and is served with the marinara sauce on top.

The square shaped pizza is the result of being baked in a square pan.

The crust of a Detroit-style pizza is usually baked in a well-oiled pan to a chewy medium-well-done state that gives the bottom and edges of the crust a fried/crunchy texture.

The Jet’s Pizza concept of franchising began in 1990 and has grown to more than 300 franchises throughout eighteen states: Michigan, Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

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Orlando recently got our first two stores for Jet’s Pizza, one in Apopka and one on the east side of Orlando near Waterford Lakes. We recently were invited to visit and try out their pizza.

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The storefront is rather small and there is seating only on the outside. I’d recommend getting some seating inside for those who don’t want to sit in the hot Florida sun. It’s essentially a take out spot.

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I thought the pizzas had good flavor for a chain, and may be the best chain pizza I’ve had in Orlando.

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The crunchy square pizza crust is different and had nice flavor, though slightly charred from the conveyor belt oven. Joe, the young attendant at the shop on this date, was courteous and attentive, so kudos to him for his good service.

Jet 10® Premium Mozzarella Cheese, Pepperoni, Ham, Mushrooms, Onions, Green Peppers, Hamburger, Italian Sausage, Bacon and Black Olives.
Jet 10®
Premium Mozzarella Cheese, Pepperoni, Ham, Mushrooms, Onions, Green Peppers, Hamburger, Italian Sausage, Bacon and Black Olives.
All Meaty Premium Mozzarella Cheese, Pepperoni, Ham, Bacon, Italian Sausage and Hamburger.
All Meaty
Premium Mozzarella Cheese, Pepperoni, Ham, Bacon, Italian Sausage and Hamburger.
Jet's Boats® Freshly Baked Pizza Dough Stuffed with Mozzarella Cheese, Pizza Sauce, and Your Favorite Toppings.
Jet’s Boats®
Freshly Baked Pizza Dough Stuffed with Mozzarella Cheese, Pizza Sauce, and Your Favorite Toppings.

The Jet’s boat is similar to basically a calzone, which means “trousers” in Italian, shaped as a folded pizza or a “boat”. It resembles a half-moon and is made of salted bread dough.

Jet's Pizza on Urbanspoon

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Artisan Pizza in just 90 seconds – all served from a food truck.

That’s what Chef Drew Soifer, a long time resident of the greater Orlando area, is cooking up with a new concept in the food truck world – a one-of-kind truck called 900 Degreez.

This converted container truck features a bespoke imported Italian wood-fired oven that can cook a pizza in an unbelievable 90 seconds.

The truck façade features an all-glass panel that allows customers to view the chefs at work. Chef Drew created a menu consisting of artisan pizzas, which includes his specialty, the EIEIO pizza that is a white mozzarella pizza with sliced fuji apples, apple bacon and garlic. 900 Degreez also serves garlic knots, Italian breads, baguettes and other baked goods.

The Margherita Pizza - classic fresh mozzarella, red sauce and fresh basil.
The Margherita Pizza – classic fresh mozzarella, red sauce and fresh basil.

Other pizzas include:

The Greek $11
Spinach, minced garlic, shredded mozzarella and feta cheese.

Hercules Court $10
Sliced Fingerling potatoes, walnut pesto sauce and shredded mozzarella.

The Big Island Pizza $10
Fresh sliced pineapple, sliced ham, red sauce and shredded mozzarella.

Farm to Table $11
Rendered pork, caramelized onions, blue cheese and shredded mozzarella.

Spade & Hoe $10
Sliced heirloom tomatoes, Kalamata olives, onions, red sauce and mozzarella.

The 35-foot truck weighs 33,000 pounds, with the oven itself weighing in at 3,500 pounds, so large in fact that Chef Drew was required to obtain a CDL.

Chef Drew says, “As the popularity of food trucks increases, Orlando has experienced unparalleled growth in this market. I believe food trucks will be around for a long time and I look forward to being a part of it.”

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“I decided to open the artisan pizza truck because it made more sense to be mobil versus being at a fixed location. I could have opened in a great location but then I would have had to deal with all the overhead that comes with that. Like rent, electric, water, a much larger staff etc.. In addition when I lived in San Francisco I experienced my first wood fired brick oven pizza and the experience was amazing. The flavor and the texture of something that was cooked in 90 seconds was awesome. Something so simple and flavorful was what I wanted to bring back to Orlando. Our pizza dough is made fresh daily and doesn’t contain any preservatives or stabilizers that are often found at a majority of pizza chain restaurants.”

Chef Drew is a graduate of New England Culinary Institute. He honed his culinary skills with top rated chefs including the late Jean Louis Paladin, as well as Charlie Palmer and Cindy Hudson while working in renowned restaurants such as the 4-Seasons, NAPA restaurant and Paris Hotel in Las Vegas.

“Throughout my experiences with the different chefs, they always placed a huge emphasis on the quality of the ingredients and making sure the customer was always satisfied. This rings true with me today. Quality is far more important than quantity,” Drew told us in a recent e-mail interview.

900 Degreez has been in operation since mid April and we can be found all over the Orlando area. The best way to find them is to go on their website at www.900degreezpizza.com and go to the “Find Us” page. There you will see all of their upcoming events with times and locations.

Contact:
Chef Drew Soifer
900degreezpizza@gmail.com
www.facebook.com/900degreez
www.twitter.com/900degreez
www.900degreezpizza.com

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One of my favorite pizza places in Orlando is located, slightly hidden, off of Maguire Rd by the Orlando Executive Airport (across from the Fashion Square mall on the south side of Colonial Dr). Pizzeria Del Dio’s pizza has a perfect, crispy crust and quality cheeses and toppings. I went and visited with my friend, Mike from Watch Me Eat and Chirag!

We ordered half pepperoni and onion / half mushroom and spinach as well as some meatballs to enjoy. Still very good pizza.

Pizzeria Del Dio
3210 E Colonial Dr Orlando, FL 32803
(407) 898-1115
http://www.pizzeriadel-dio.com/
 

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ft pierce big apple pizza scott van duzer photo DSC00856_zps4f2f58bd.jpg

In the fall of 2012, during the US Presidential Elections, this little pizza parlor in Ft Pierce, FL became quite the buzz of the town when owner and registered Republican Scott Van Duzer lifted President Barack Obama mid air in a huge bear hug during a campaign stop at Big Apple Pizza.

This small act led to a huge firestorm of online trolls and posts (both in support and against the restaurant) onto the review site Yelp, many of which became filtered later on through Yelp’s filtering algorithm.

(Photo credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)
(Photo credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

“I don’t vote party line, I vote who I feel comfortable with, and I do feel extremely comfortable with him,” Scott Van Duzer told the press pool. In 2008 he launched The Van Duzer Foundation, which helps raise awareness and funds for blood donations.

I dropped by Ft. Pierce to check out Big Apple Pizza on the way home to Orlando from West Palm recently, just a few miles away from the I-95 exit.

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The Big Apple Pizza location was rather spacious for a pizza parlor, and was rather nice. Inside, sports memorabilia hung on the walls as well as a few prominent wall photos including ones with Tim Tebow and a huge framed piece with a letter of thanks from President Obama to Mr. Van Duzer for attending the second presidential debate.

Mr. Van Duzer wasn’t in that night that I visited but I believe his family were running the restaurant that evening along with several local teen employees.

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I ordered two slices: a regular cheese pizza and a pepperoni pizza slice.

The slices came out rather quickly, as I would expect, and tasted pretty good. The crust wasn’t particularly memorable but the cheese and pepperoni were good. It was a bit oily from the pizza grease, but not too oily.
Overall, I would probably come back and try some more of their pizza items and donate to their foundation while I’m there.

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