Cinco 5

  • As reported earlier this week, Cinco Tacos + Tequila closed after little more than seven months. Following that news, one of the owners, Greg Pranzo, told other members of the media that the restaurant would be moving. However, my sources tell me that isn’t likely. Also probably not happening: East Hampton Bait & Tackle, which Pranzo had planned to open, last November, in the former TR Fire Grill space. Don’t confuse this restaurant with the Hampton Social, which is still on track to open this year at Pointe Orlando.
  • Speaking of Pointe Orlando, Hopdoddy Burger Bar will open Monday, Feb. 18, in the former Funky Monkey space.
  • Don’t leave the Pointe yet — Lotus Asia will open there Thursday, Feb. 21. It goes into the former Ra Sushi spot.




New Orleans has Mardi Gras but Venice has Carnevale. And so does Maria & Enzo’s.

From February 22 through March 5 (that’s Fat Tuesday), our friends at the beautiful Disney Springs restaurant will be hosting nightly celebrations in the tradition of the Carnival of Venice. There will be costumes, singers, stilt walkers, jugglers, mimes, face painting and folk dancers.

And, of course, the terrific Italian food that the restaurant is known for. In addition to the regular menu, Maria & Enzo’s is offering a special Feast of Carnevale that includes an amuse bouche; ciabatta, grissini (those tasty breadsticks) and focaccia; chef’s selection of pasta, served family style; antipasti; secondi; and dessert. All for $45 per person, which is a great deal for this quality of food (even without the entertainment).

Reservations are recommended. Go to Maria & Enzo’s website or call the restaurant at 407-560-8466.

And here’s something interesting. The origin of the word carnevale, and thus the English word carnival, is from two Latin words that mean “meat” and “remove.” So the Italians celebrate with this annual festival up to the beginning of Lent when they have to remove meat from their diet.

You don’t have to be observant to be a part of the celebration. Grab your mask and put on your favorite harlequin outfit and join in the fun.


Citypub interior

City Pub is the new restaurant and bar that replaced North Quarter Tavern. The bones of the place are the same, with the central bar and surrounding dining tables. But some decorating touches have been added — royal blue paint, wood wainscoting over a tufted banquette along the back wall — that give it a traditional pub mien.

And the food is still above average, though not as creative as when NQT first opened. But then, in retrospect, that menu was probably too ambitious (and costly).

Yet there’s something about City Pub that just doesn’t seem to congeal. It lacks focus, and the staff don’t seem to have guidance to help them in finding the center. On both of my visits, I felt like everyone there would rather be somewhere else.



The restaurants listed here are nominated for Best French Restaurant in our Foodster Awards for Independent Restaurants. 

You may vote for up to three restaurants. The top vote getters will advance to the finals. Nominations will be accepted through Wed., Feb. 27.

You may write in a candidate, but remember that the Foodster Awards are for Independent Restaurants, defined as those with three or fewer locations. Before writing in a name, please be sure it isn't already on the list -- dupicates will be deleted and the votes associated with the duplicate will not be transferred the original nominee entry.

After voting, please leave a comment about your favorite (be sure to mention the name of the restaurant in your comment or we won't know which one you're referring to).


Valentines Bacon Final

Valentine’s Day has to be one of the worst days of the year for restaurants. Yes, most of them will have their reservation books maxed out, the dining room fully committed, as they say. But unlike other big dining occasions, Mother’s Day or Christmas or New Year’s Eve, they won’t do as much business.

Think about it: Most of the tables will be two tops, couples out for a romantic meal. So tables that on other evenings might have more butts in seats, also as they say, will be half set.

One exception might be a recent movement for groups of women to go out together on Feb. 14 for a Galentine’s dinner. My understanding of the concept is that it’s supposed to ameliorate the disappointment of being without a significant other on a day dedicated to romance.

I wonder if any guys have thought about organizing a Palentine’s dinner? You know, a boys night out, maybe take in a buddy movie, have a few brewskys, then go have dinner at a nice restaurant with low lighting and soft music to see if there are any Galentine groups they can meet up with.

I’m not saying that restaurants don’t welcome the extra business. Especially when it falls on a weeknight, Valentine’s Day can still be a better than average day of business.

And there are plenty of restaurants going all out to attract yours, whether it's you and your boo or you and your bros. Or BFFs. Or whatever. Here's a sampling: