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BitesBubbles inside dining room

It occurs to me that Bites & Bubbles, the Mills 50 restaurant from longtime local restaurateurs Eddie Nickell and Nicholas Olivieri, is somewhat misnamed.

Not the Bubbles part. There is a a very nice list that does indeed include sparkling wines as well as good selections of still wines, both by the glass and by the bottle, and craft cocktails, too.

But Bites? That conjures images of nibbles and noshes or tapas-sized tidbits. That doesn’t describe the portions here, which, based on my multiple visits, have been ample and filling. And high quality, too.

Maybe Big Bites & Bubbles?

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Tornatore hh

Tornatore’s, the popular College Park Italian restaurant and pizzeria, is trying something different with a sort of later-in-the-evening happy hour concept. While many restaurants will offer special pricing earlier, say, 6 to 7 p.m., Tornatore’s is doing it from 8 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. They’re offering BOGO deals on pizzas for takeout or delivery, and BOGO on wines for people dining in. Also, they’re promising special secret menu items. What might those be? I don’t know, it’s a secret.

  • You know BOGO means buy one get one, right?
  • When the 2023 South Beach Wine & Food Festival kicks off next month, Central Florida will be represented by Alexia and Rhys Gawlak, owners of Swine & Sons. They’ll be participating in an event called Chicken Coupe, hosted by Michelle Bernstein in Miami’s Design District, Sat. Feb 25. And on Sunday, Ryan Whaley of the pop-up bakery Parlor Kitchen will be part of the Grand Tasting Village.

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UrbanTurban sign

Even though I rolled my eyes when I heard the name, I was excited at the news that Urban Turban would bring Indian cuisine back to downtown Orlando. By my recollection, there hasn’t been an Indian restaurant in the Central Business District since the mid nineteen nineties when Uday Kadam owned Bombay Bistro.

Why Indian cuisine been missing from downtown for so long is a mystery, given that most other cuisines are there. (No Vietnamese either, I believe, though at least it’s well represented nearby at Mills 50).

That said, I was hoping more from Urban Turban. Or maybe my expectations should have been tempered based on the name.

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KhalilJohn Khalil, new owner of Enzo's on the Lake, next to the Longwood restaurant's popular antipasto bar.

When Jo Anne Perlini, who with her then-husband Enzo opened Enzo’s on the Lake in 1980, announced in October that she had sold the Longwood restaurant, many of the longtime customers were worried that it would change.

John Khalil, the Orlando dentist who bought it, wants to assure you that he intends to keep Enzo’s Enzo’s. “This place is kind of an institution,” said Khalil. “I love the atmosphere, the feel and obviously the food.” And in the two months that he’s owned it he’s stayed the proven course. Most of the staff, including the servers, cooks and the chef, Brandon Parran, have stayed on. Only one longtime server decided to leave, “But he made that decision before he met us,” said Khalil.

Of course Jo Anne Perlini, too, is no longer associated with the restaurant. But you can also thank her that Enzo’s will stay the same. According to Khalil, who purchased the restaurant with his business partner Logan Berkowitz for $3.2 million, there was another bidder for the business – offering more, he believes – but that person did not want to keep it Enzo’s. Perlini chose Khalil and Berkowitz’s offer because they assured her they wanted to keep things the way they were. “We had to save Enzo’s,” Khalil said.

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Riverside Johnnys extDiesel's Bar & Grill, via Google Maps

John Khalil, the Orlando dentist who recently bought the storied Enzo’s on the Lake in Longwood, has acquired another waterfront property – the former Diesel’s Bar & Grill in Daytona Beach – and has tapped celebrated local chef Michael Collantes to develop the menu.

Khalil, who goes by Johnny, said his first choice for a name was already taken so for now the restaurant will be called Riverside Johnny’s. He’s hoping to have it open in time for Daytona’s Bike Week in March but said, “If it isn’t ready, we won’t launch.”

Collantes, whose omakase restaurant Soseki was awarded a star in last year’s inaugural Florida Michelin Guide, said in an interview Friday morning that he didn’t want to describe the cuisine of the new restaurant as “beach food” but that it would be more elevated. “It will be things you want to eat with a margarita in your hand.” He mentioned items such as calamari and fish tacos, smash burgers and a Viet-style crawfish boil. Collantes, who also owned the now-closed Taglish Filipino-American restaurant, added, “We want to bring some of the Pacific to the Atlantic.” (Kirk Mayer, the chef from Taglish, will move to the Daytona Beach kitchen.)