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Timpano Italian Chophouse and Martini Bar

Timpano shankUpdate: This restaurant has closed. The property has been purchased by Darden Restaurants for an Eddie V's, to open late 2013 or early 2014.

I hadn't had a chance to check out Timpano Italian Chophouse and Martini Bar since it had been purchased by the folks at Tavistock. Well, I had plenty of chances but just wasn't motivated enough. But then Rocco's Tacos opened next door in the former Samba Room. (Samba Room was purchased by Tavistock, too, but they sold it immediately.) Rocco's was such an immediate hit that twice when I tried to visit to review it I was unable to get a seat without waiting over an hour. Sorry, I don't wait an hour to eat, not when there are other options.

Timpano was an option. So my friend and I visited the "new" Timpano twice, and enjoyed it both times.

Timpano had a rocky start when it first opened as one of the original occupants of Restaurant Row (in fact, I hadn't yet dubbed that stretch of Sand Lake Road "Restaurant Row"). It had a bit of an identity crisis, wanting to be an Italian chophouse but not able to clearly define what exactly that might be. Over the years it got a bit better, but was never one of the restaurants I would recommend much down there. There were just too many other options.

But now I'm happy to recommend it. The food, while not worth the trip itself, is good. And frankly it still has the identity crisis that it had at first, but it helps that it added Martini Bar to its moniker. Because what makes Timpano recommendable is the whole experience, which most evenings includes live entertainment in the bar area. It has a classy Sinatra era feel to it. And while there isn't an official dance floor, several people staked out a small patch of space in front of the band and cut a rug, though I don't think there was an actual rug. (Where did that phrase come from anyway?)

The music can be heard throughout the restaurant, but I liked sitting in the lounge. And the entire menu was available there. My friend and I shared some calamari fritto misto that had a nicely crisped breading. For my entree I had osso buco, made with pork shank instead of the usual veal. It was served in a splotch of creamy risotto. My friend had the Tuscan flatbread, which had Italian sausage, caramelized onions and mozzarella and parmesan cheeses.

Service from the staff at the bar was attentive and friendly. We both felt welcome, and they treated us like locals who would visit often. And I think we will.

Timpano Italian Chophouse and Martini Bar is at 7488 W. Sand Lake Road, Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner daily. Here is a link to the website, timpanochophouse.net. The phone number is 407-248-0429.

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Saturday, 23rd August 2014

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