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Grande Lakes Orlando, the 500-acre luxury resort that is home to the Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott hotels – and their top-of-the-line restaurants – is celebrating its 20th anniversary with GLO Summer NIghts all season long.

Through Labor Day, the resort will feature fireworks every Saturday (Fridays, too, on holiday weekends), so if you’re going out to experience Knife & Spoon’s special four-course menu in celebration of its Michelin star rating, make your reservation for a Saturday to end the evening with a big bang. In addition to the fireworks, the evening will include stilt walkers, fire dancers (would love to see those two combined), live music and a dessert trolley. GLO Summer Nights are 7 to 10 p.m.


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Big Fin Seafood, the elaborate restaurant at Dellagio Town Center on Restaurant Row, has been sold. Philippe Villain, who also owns Russell’s on Lake Ivanhoe and a new brand called Little Fin in the Villages, said he sold Big Fin last week to Estein USA, an investment company located on Apopka Vineland Road in Orlando.

In a phone call Tuesday afternoon, a spokesman for Estein said Big Fin will continue to operate the same with the current front- and back-of-house staff in place. Estein also owns and operates the private London House next door at Dellagio.


Ace Cafe Orlando

Ace Cafe, the downtown Orlando mega bar and restaurant that emphasized loud motorcycles and louder music, announced its closing over the Memorial Day weekend. The restaurant, at 100 W. Livingston St., opened almost exactly six years ago in the former Harry P. Leu building.

The Orlando location was based, loosely, on a venue in London that became popular with young people during World War II who would ride their motorbikes to the remote bar to listen to one of the few juke boxes in England. (For my review, in June 2017, I visited both the just-opened Ace Cafe Orlando and the one in London, near Wembley stadium, within a week of each other.)

The Orlando Ace Cafe was the first of what was expected to be several that would open as part of a North America franchise. The Ace Cafe website lists no other North American locations; other Aces are in Finland, Beijing and Luzern.

In my review, I noted that the Orlando venue was huge and that a lot of money had obviously been spent on it, unusual for a business outside the tourist corridor. Unlike the London original – which opened in 1938, was destroyed in an air raid two years later, reopened after the war, closed again in 1969 and reopened in 2001 – the Orlando Ace was a full service restaurant with a large stage for live acts and a spacious dance floor.

No reason was given for the closing, which was announced on social media, but one might wonder if there might be new construction coming soon on the site that would make better use of the prime downtown space.


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Taste! Central Florida is Friday, Aug. 18, at Orlando World Center Marriott, and I’ll be there.

But right now I’m here – to save you some money.

Go to tastecfl.org and click on the link to Buy Tickets. You’ll see an option to “apply a promo code.” Click on that and type in SJO25. Update the amount and wah-la, you’ll see the purchase amount decrease by $25 for each ticket you’re purchasing. That doesn’t suck.

Taste!, of course, is the annual food and wine walkabout event that raises awareness and money for fighting childhood hunger. Proceeds benefit Coalition for the Homeless and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. And 100 percent of the monies raised stays in Central Florida.

As the event gets closer I’ll have more details on some of the participants and highlights of this year’s event. In the meantime, get your tickets now using the SJO25 code because it won’t last forever.


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I have a family recipe, one my mom cooked regularly when I was growing up, that I make from time to time. It’s noodle based and I’ve always just used store-bought dried egg noodles.

Then one day I decided to make fresh pasta and I used some in the recipe. And suddenly a mundane dish was a superior one. I’ll never go back to using dried pasta in that recipe again.

Vinicius Turci and his wife, Nathalia Kalil, understand that. Fresh pastas are the centerpiece of their College Park restaurant, Turci Pasta.