I finally made it down to check out Paradiso 37, the newest restaurant in Downtown Disney in the area formerly known as Pleasure Island. This project is from E-Brands, the Orlando company that also owns Timpano and Samba Room on Restaurant Row Orlando and Salsa at Florida Mall as well as other restaurants in Las Vegas and elsewhere.
Paradiso 37 is billed as serving “street foods of the Americas,” which conjures up an image of food carts roaming through the restaurant like an urbanized version of dim sum. Not so. It’s a full-service restaurant, no carts involved, although the menu does list from the collection of North American specialties the Street Cart Dog. Other choices are burgers, burritos, enchiladas and my favorite of all street foods, surf and turf.
E-Brands has a spotty history with its restaurants. Sometimes they’re very good, sometimes they’re not. My take on Paradiso 37 falls somewhere between the two extremes. The food was OK, so was the service, though neither was anything to rave about. The ambience? Well, we’ll come back to that.
There’s another issue that I’d like to address first, but I’m afraid I don’t have an answer. Doesn’t it seem logical that somewhere among the information about the restaurant there would be an explanation as to why the number 37 is used in the name? I figure it’s the number of countries in the Americas, although there are varying totals on how many countries are in North and South America and none of the authorities I sought out had numbers that added up to the one in question.
I thought there might be an explanation about the name on the company’s Web site. But the E-brands site, a textbook example of what a company should not do with its Web site, says the info on Paradiso 37 is “coming soon,” even though the restaurant was over a year in the building and has been open since early June.
I also thought someone at the restaurant could answer the question, but I couldn’t get someone at the restaurant to answer the phone during regular business hours. (That’s another textbook example for customer service.)
The number does not reference the different tequilas showcased in the restaurant’s towering bar. There are 50 of those. One of them went into my margarita, and I enjoyed it just fine.
For my appetizer I chose the Central American crazy corn ($7.50) because I was in a wild and Central American kind of mood. This featured fire-roasted corn-on-the-cob coated with melted cheese and drizzled with a slightly peppery hot sauce. I sort of liked it, though my companion found it more than a little crazy. What I didn’t like was the four small, half-ears for that price. I’m guessing there’s a profit of around seven bucks on that one.
For my entree I chose the tres tacos ($11.99). There were, as the name implies, three of them, but together they barely amounted to one regular sized taco. The mini corn tortillas were firm, but the meats -- your choice from among chicken, pork, grilled steak, mahi mahi or, for a vegetarian option, roasted mushrooms -- were underseasoned and under proportioned. The tacos were further dwarfed by a large mound of green cilantro rice and a puddle of black beans. Both side dishes were fine, though again nothing stellar.
Service was affable. The young woman who showed me to my table asked me if I wanted to be in the downstairs area near the bar -- I think she said “with more atmosphere” -- or did I prefer a bit more quiet. Fearing it would be too noisy in the atmosphere, I chose more quiet. That means up the stairs to a mezzanine level with little view to speak of. I really felt like I was too far out of the scene. Go for the atmosphere, even if it is noisier. You might get a peek of the lake, although for a better view you might want to sit on the patio.
Paradiso 37 is open daily for lunch and dinner. Menu prices range from $8.99 (for that street cart dog) to $23.99 (for the surf and turf). The phone number is 407-934-3700. If you get someone to answer it, ask what the 37 is supposed to mean.
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