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Marketplace exterior

Spoleto Italian Kitchen, the Brazilian franchise that entered the U.S. market in 2015 with a location near UCF then closed all Central Florida shops early in the pandemic, is returning with a restaurant at the Marketplace at Avalon Park. It is expected to start assembling pasta dishes in July. Since October, Spoleto has been working out of the Dollins Food Hall ghost kitchen.

The chain – originally known as Spoleto – My Italian Kitchen – was started in 1999 in Rio de Janeiro and opened its first restaurant in the United States in Orlando in 2015 on University Boulevard. It was an assemblage concept that had the customer choose the type of pasta, sauces and other ingredients to be added to a bowl by a staff member behind the line.

The Avalon restaurant will be the chain’s 344th location.

Padrino’s, the upscale Cuban cafe that opened in the Hunters Creek area in 2009, has closed that location. Five other locations remain in South Florida, from whence it came.

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Haos bar

Recently, I attended the opening night of Orlando Ballet’s elaborate production of “The Great Gatsby” in the Walt Disney Theater at Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. Next door, in the new world-class Steinmetz Hall, world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma was playing to a sold-out audience. The night before that, Elton John returned to Amway Center for another stop on his “I really mean it this time” farewell tour. And two nights later I was at the old Cheyenne Saloon on Church Street for a riveting production of Stephen Sondheim’s “Assassins.”

The arts and entertainment are back in force and bringing audiences to downtown Orlando.

So where should we eat?

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Cafe de France ext

Cafe de France, one of the oldest restaurants on Winter Park’s vaunted Park Avenue, has closed after 37 years. Owners Dominique and German Gutierrez made the announcement on the restaurant’s Facebook page:

“After 37 years, we are announcing the closing of our beloved Cafe de France. Since 1985 we have gained lifelong friends from our employees, our patrons, and our partners. Our hearts are full of wonderful memories, and we consider our story a very successful one indeed!

Closing this chapter was not an easy decision to make. Like for many of you, this restaurant has been our second home and our second ‘child.’ A place of first dates, engagements, and all kind of celebrations!

“We appreciate you all more than you know for the continued support and love which kept us operating for 37 years - despite a few recessions and a pandemic to boot.”

 

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Chronic wall

Tacos and Tuesdays have become ingrained in our alliterative psyche. You might say it’s a chronic condition. So it’s fitting that on this Tuesday I tell you about Chronic Tacos, a franchise with locations across the U.S. as well as Canada and, for some reason, Japan.

In Orlando, Chronic Tacos are slung from a location on Sand Lake Road’s Restaurant Row, an area that also has several Japanese restaurants but none from Canada, as far as I know.

It’s a fairly simple experience and the food I sampled was good, though nothing stood out.

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Delaneys stuffedd mush

The latest issue of The Community Paper is out and my Local Flavor column this month features a recipe from Delaney’s Tavern.

Delaney’s Tavern in the SoDo District across from the Orlando Health complex is often compared to the bar on the television series “Cheers.” It has a neighborhood vibe and a friendly staff who may or may not know your name.

But the gang at Cheers had to leave the bar to eat; at Delaney’s there’s great food right there with a versatile menu from executive chef Anthony Albino.

Here Albino shares the recipe for a new Roasted Stuffed Mushrooms appetizer. As written, the recipe is vegetarian and gluten free. Albino says you can adapt it to include chopped crab, lobster or sausage.

At Delaney’s Tavern, Albino finishes the dish with two sauces, a Porcini Goat Cheese Mousse and a Piquillo Coulis, but he says: “I would recommend any kind of aioli, or a horseradish based sauce. Or if you want to kick it up, some kind of chipotle sauce.”

Click here to see the full recipe on the Community Paper’s website.