Dancing Pig Interior

I did something I haven’t done in a long time recently. Or maybe I should say I didn’t do something. During my most recent trip to New Orleans, I didn’t get a muffuletta. I lived, and I most certainly didn’t go hungry. (I’ll tell you about a couple of outstanding meals soon.)

But I did sort of miss it. So when I saw that Dancing Pigs Deli’s menu highlighted its muffuletta, or muffaletta, as they prefer to spell it, as one “that would make a Cajun envious,” I figured I could right the wrong of three weeks ago in NOLA.

No, I don’t think any Cajuns will be turning green over this version. (And by the way, the sandwich is an invention of Italian immigrants to the area, but let’s not quibble about that.)

Olympia logoOlympia Restaurant, one of Orlando’s oldest family operated restaurants, is for sale. At least the land that it sits on is on the market. Co-owner Vasilios Vasiliadis, said that he and his brother have put the property on the market although so far there have been no takers.

Vasiliadis said that the restaurant will continue to operate until a sale is completed, and then they will decide whether or not to relocate.

Olympia has been opa-ing at 8505 E. Colonial Drive since 1979. If not the oldest restaurant in the area (that title is usually attributed to Linda’s La Cantina) it is inarguably the longest running Greek restaurant.

I first reviewed Olympia in December, 1989, and started the article, “Don't be surprised when you walk into Olympia restaurant and feel as though you've stumbled upon a party.”

Olympia remains open for lunch and dinner but closes early -- 8 p.m. -- on weeknights these days.

Chrome kitchen 3

I stopped by Chroma Modern Kitchen + Bar in Lake Nona the other day in advance of its Sept. 21 official opening. Chroma is the latest concept from Orlando based Tavistock Restaurant Collection and a sister restaurant (or brother, I could never figure out how to tell) of nearby Canvas Restaurant & Market. Clearly, TRC is dedicated to improving the dining scene in Lake Nona, not surprising considering that the Tavistock Development Company is one of the major developers in that part of town.

The restaurant was in the throes of training when I visited, both in the front of the house with the serving staff and in the back with the small army of cooks. I also got to sit in while executive chef Jason Bergeron led the servers through a tasting of several of the dishes that will be on the small-plates menu. I was encouraged by what I saw -- and tasted -- and can't wait to visit it once it's up and running.

Here is some of what I saw:

earls logoEarls Kitchen + Bar, a Vancouver, Canada, based family-operated restaurant group, will open at the Mall at Millenia Wednesday, Sept. 21. It will be the company’s second Florida location (there is one in Miami Dadeland) and 68th overall.

The restaurant takes over the former Blue Martini space and will offer lunch and dinner daily as well as brunch on weekends.

The Orlando menu, under the direction of executive chef Simon Zanotto, will be specific to the Central Florida market. Appetizers include Tuna Poke, Sicilian Calamari, Caesar Salads and Cajun Chicken. Signature entrees are Jeera Chicken Curry and BBQ Ribs, Atlantic Salmon, Creekstone Farms Black Angus steaks and burgers, and a variety of main plate salads and sandwiches.

Earls plans to offer happy hours Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. and again from 9 p.m. to midnight, to catch the shoppers leaving the mall, one assumes. The bar promises fresh squeezed juices and local and nationally sourced craft beers.




Good news for Belle Islanders, Edgewoodies, and Pine, um, Castilians: Tartini Pizzeria & Spaghetteria has reopened. The restaurant, which specializes in pizzas baked in a special oven with a rotating platform that also rises and lowers to cook the dough fast and thoroughly, closed abruptly in July.

Owner David Kosmerlj told me that he started a soft relaunch on Friday and will officially reopen Thursday. When I asked him why he had closed in July he said that he had to return to his native Slovenia to attend to some family matters and didn’t want to leave the restaurant unattended. He expressed a little surprise that people assumed that Tartini had gone out of business.

I suggested that a disconnected telephone and a website landing page that had a banner proclaiming WE ARE CLOSED might have led some people to that conclusion.

Nevertheless, the restaurant is back with a few minor changes, such as tablecloths and cloth napkins and a refocusing on food presentation. His hometown, Piran, is across the border from Trieste, Italy, and across the bay from Venice. So he spent some of the last few months reacquainting himself with Italian food and plans to introduce some new items based on his research.

Kosmerlj said he learned a lot about food from his father, who brought his family, including his 15-year-old, non-English speaking son David, to the United States when he was hired as chef to South Carolina governor Richard Wilson Riley. (Kosmerlj said that when his father was 18 he worked for the Venetian chef who is credited with inventing tiramisu.) During his time cooking at the governor’s mansion, during the 1980s, the elder Kosmerlj was known for his stuffed mushrooms, which, of course, were very ‘80s. (Just as tiramisu became very ‘90s.)

Tartini will serve lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. The new phone number is 407-704-8011. The website has not been updated as yet.