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Whatthechuck kitchen

Just under the name What the Chuck and its big orange W logo (which was vaguely reminiscent of Whataburger’s) it says “A burger joint.” That pretty much sums it up.

Well, not entirely. I suppose you should also know that the burgers this joint offers are of the smash genre, wherein the patty is pressed down during grilling and flattened somewhat instead of being a thick and juicy hunk of ground beef oozing with red juices. Smashed burgers cannot be ordered, say, medium-rare because as soon as they’re smashed they’re pretty much beyond that point. Which is not to say such burgers can’t also be satisfying. You should just know before you go.

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Hourglass Hope

A Spoon Full of Hope, the retail product line of Second Harvest of Central Florida, has teamed up with Hourglass Brewing to present An Hourglass Full of Hope, which will bring you a glass full of beer.

A steam lager, actually, made with ASFOH’s orange blossom honey. According to Hourglass’s tasting notes, the beer has “fragrant notes of spiced sap and swirling sweet lemon-lime citrus” there are also “flourishes of golden biscuits and freshly baked bread” plus “a subtle caramel finish” that comes from resting the lager on cracked honeycomb toffee that was made with the same honey. You can experience all that – and help fund Second Harvest’s Culinary Training Program – at Hourglass Brewing, the addresses for which you’ll find on its website.

  • Speaking of brewing, Gatlin Hall Brewing is still on tap (see what I did there?) to open this quarter inSoSoDo. Besides an onsite brewing facility, the hall will feature food vendors. Final permitting has been completed and the owners are looking for a mid March opening. Also moving into the strip mall at South Orange Avenue and Gatlin Avenue will be a second location of Winter Park’s The Porch, I hear.

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Ilpesca ext

As coincidence would have it, I first reviewed Il Pescatore, the family homey Italian restaurant on Primrose Drive, exactly 20 years ago this week. And now that it has reached that milestone, it can be declared an Orlando Classic.

It was Marie and Stefano LaComarre who purchased what was Sorrento’s Italian and renamed it Il Pescatore, or the fisherman. It was never meant to be a seafood restaurant, and in fact seafood was never its forte. The name was merely an homage to Stefano’s childhood on the waters of his native Sicily.

(The LaComarre’s, of course, eventually sold Il Pescatore and opened Stefano’s Trattoria in Winter Springs, which they also sold and which still thrives today under the ownership of Alejandro Martinez. Lacomarre now cooks at his son’s Altamonte Springs restaurant, Nonno’s.)

Lacomarre’s influence is still seen on Il Pescatore’s menu today – I wonder how many menus in the area feature Tortellini di Stefano? But it reads, as it always has, as a stereotypical Italian American menu that you might find in any red-and-white checker-clothed trattoria. (It did, in fact, have such tablecloths in ’91 but they no longer drape the tables today.) But with an occasional surprise.

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Palma Maria exterior

Palma Maria, the longtime family operated Italian restaurant in Casselberry, is closing permanently.

The restaurant had closed Jan. 4 following the death of its owner and operator Peter Rosinola Jr. In a post Monday afternoon on the Palma Maria Facebook page, the family announced that it would not reopen. Besides the loss of Rosinola, the hardships that Covid-19 has visited on businesses, especially restaurants, was another reason, according to sources familiar with the business.

Palma Maria – named for the family's grandmother – was one of the area's older restaurants. I first reviewed it in 1991 when it was already an established favorite among locals. It gained renown for baking its own bread and presenting each table with a whole loaf to enjoy with the meal and bagging up any bread that was left to take home.

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Mporte

Here’s a dandy idea.

One of the downfalls of the rise in takeout is the regrettable single-use foam and plastic containers in which the food is packaged. The containers are convenient, relatively cheap, easy to use, and potentially an ecological disaster.

So that’s why I like this product from M’Porte, a San Diego company. It’s marketing reusable to-go containers that customers purchase and then exchange with their next order.

Restaurants participating in the M’Porte exchange program will take a customer’s container – rinsed of any food residue – and exchange it for a cleaned and sanitized one filled with more delicious and guilt-free food. Well, at least free of guilt from trashing the environment.

And my understanding of the program is that the container isn’t tied to just one restaurant but can be exchanged at any participating eatery. And, the restaurants take 25 cents off the order, which sounds like sort of a big whoop kind of deal but those quarters can eventually add up.

The containers are leak proof and made of food grade stainless steel. They can hold up to 50 ounces of food and can be placed in the over to reheat the takeout (if you remove the silicone seal that makes it leak proof).

Currently, only a handful of restaurants in Del Mar and Encinitas are participating in the exchange program. But it sure would be nice to see it expand to Central Florida.

What do you think – would you participate in a reusable takeout container exchange program?