La Luce by Donna Scala 2013

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La Luce to the rescue.

I had driven from downtown Orlando to the Bonnet Creek area (Disney) to visit deep blu seafood grille, the lowercased restaurant that opened late last year at the new Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort. (It’s uppercased, because it’s grand.) My experience had highs and lows at the time, so I thought the occasion of Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month was a good reason to return to see if deep blu had gotten more consistent. I even called that afternoon to verify that the restaurant was participating in the MagDinMo program. However, I did not make a reservation.

If I had, I might have been told what I discovered when I arrived, and after I had turned my car over to a valet: that the restaurant was closed for the evening for a private event. This was information that might have been imparted to me by the person I spoke to on the phone, but also certainly by the valet when I told him my destination.

I was welcome to dine in the hotel’s coffee shop, I was told. Not the same thing, I replied.

So I fetched my car from the valet, looked across the way and saw the Hilton Bonnet Creek, home to La Luce by Donna Scala. Another valet turnover and I was soon inside the modern decor of La Luce, resting against too many cushions of a banquette against a window overlooking the hotel’s pool.

The previous 20 minutes had not made me happy; the following 60 did, very much.

My server sensed my mood -- actually, when he asked how I was, I told him I was pissed off, so he didn’t have to read my body language). He made it his goal to turn my mood around, and he succeeded nicely.

Of course, Scala’s food had something to do with it, as well. I started with the arancini, the densely packed rice balls with mushrooms and saffron, fried into fritters. Yummy.

For my entree I had the pappardelle fantastia, housemade ribbons of wide noodles tossed with shrimp, cherry tomatoes and arugula. The shrimp had a bit of spicy pepper that gave it a bright note. The noodles were perfect.

I had to have the butterscotch pudding for dessert. When the restaurant first opened, Scala told me that she used only Macallan for her pudding. And since the Macallan is my favorite scotch, I order is whenever I have the chance. I have no idea if that expensive whisky is still used, but the pudding was as good as ever. So was the crunchy bit of toffee that accompanied it.

Something about the atmosphere didn’t seem quite right. It had a feel of being too casual, too disorganized. Maybe that had something to do with the two hostesses who seemed to be using the computer at the host stand, just a few feet from where I was sitting, to so some clothing shopping between guests.

There was lots of down time for them as the restaurant remained fairly unattended. Too bad, because La Luce continues to be a real Italian treat in the Disney area.

La Luce by Donna Scala is at the Hilton Bonnet Creek, 14100 Bonnet Creek Resort Lane, Orlando. It is open for dinner daily. The phone number is 407-597-3600. 

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