These days are perfect for dining at Gargi’s Lakeside, the little Italian on the shore of Lake Ivanhoe. Gargi’s and I have had an up and down relationship over the years. Its quality has faltered at times. But my last few visits have been quite pleasant, and the food seems to be finding a consistent level of good. And with a patio with such an incredible setting (why anyone would choose to dine inside here is beyond me), this is a place you should consider for a downtown meal.
I met a friend for lunch recently and I started with the pasta e fazzoli, a hearty soup of chicken stock tinged with a touch of marinara, with beans and bits of pasta. A touch less garlic and it would have been perfect.
My entree of veal Francese featured tender scaloppine dipped in egg wash and sauteed in white wine and butter with capers, finished with a squeeze of lemon juice. Nicely done.
My friend had chicken cacciatore, a hearty dish of chicken chunks melded with spices and tomatoes into a pulpy sauce. A wonderful blending of flavors.
Service was professional and attentive.
Gargi’s, many longtimers will recall, originally occupied the space across the street where Casa Sorrento is currently (Wilfredo’s before that). The lakefront structure was built and occupied over six years ago in a lease agreement with the City of Orlando. (Original arrangements required Gargi’s to offer food at a walk-up window to people in the adjacent park, but I don’t think that ever panned out.)
Gargi’s Lakeside is at 1414 N. Orange Ave., Orlando. It is open for lunch Monday through Saturday and dinner daily (Sunday service begins at 3 p.m.). Here’s a link to Gargi’s Web site -- warning: it plays music and there is no evident mute button. The phone number is 407-894-7907.