Tornatore’s Cafe & Pizzeria led by owner Denny Tornatore recently opened Tornatore’s Italian Market in College Park right next door to the original Tornatore’s.
Owner Denny Tornatore tells us, “The Italian market was a project I have been working on forever it seems. Because we make such great pasta I wanted to retail sell it so people could make it themselves at home and enjoy it. Since Day 1, we made fresh frozen dinners at the restaurant and that had a big following so that was moved to the market. We made connections in Italy to get exclusive rights to certain products that we have available. We also are able to help a lot of small businesses who make local specialty products that we feature in there.”
The market sells everything from Tornatore’s special extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars, to house-made fresh pastas, frozen house-made pizzas and prepared Italian meals by Tornatore’s executive chef, Jason Wolfe (formerly of K Restaurant), as well as deli meats and cheeses.
At Tornatore’s restaurant, everything is made from scratch on site from the sausage, the mozzarella , literally everything. The house made pasta is so well regarded that they sell their pasta to high end restaurants all over Florida.
For something sweet to go, try pastry chef Ron James (formerly of Sugarbuzz desserts)’s locally crafted gelato, pastries, and desserts to go.
Interview with Owner Denny Tornatore
Tell us about your background – how did you get started in the restaurant business? what inspires you each day?
Owner Denny Tornatore – I got in the restaurant biz at an early age. School wasn’t for me. I started at age and 16 washing dishes and owned my first restaurant at age 19. I love making people happy with food. Coming from an Italian family it was instilled into me. Feed people great food and it will make them happy. Nothing beats friends sitting around a table enjoying a meal and laughs.
Tell us about the meeting with Chef Irvine – how did that change your world? how have things gone since 2015?
Robert Irvine literally changed my life in just one day. I am forever grateful to him. He keeps on close contact with me as he calls me his star pupil. Before he came I was working 70-80 hour weeks always. He taught me to hire the right people and more importantly to trust them to do a job. When they left in 2015 it was the beginning of a new era. A true scratch kitchen and a business that grew quickly.
Tornatore’s Plans for 2021?
In 2021 we plan to keep on the track we are on. We have been very fortunate through the virus because Orlando rallied behind us and kept us going strong. We have a lot back and plan to do more of the same in 2021.
Biggest lessons learned in 2020?
The biggest lesson I learned in 2020 is to help whoever u can if u can. Times are tough right now. I have been down and out before and was helped get back on my feet. I learned to do the same. And of course WASH YOUR HANDS LOL. In front of house this year changed a lot. Obviously safety is the # 1 goal now. For our guests and ourselves.
Personal Resolutions for 2021?
Personally my resolutions for 2021 are to get as healthy as possible. Make more time for my daughters who are just growing so fast. I don’t want to miss anymore of them. Also to fix the situation with the love of my life that I lost in 2020. I can’t let the restaurant business affect these things the way I have in the past.
Tornatore’s Italian Market
3818 Edgewater Drive, Orlando