Scratch brunch

I've been an unapologetic fan of Scratch, the moody small-plates restaurant on Fairbanks Avenue, since I first visited, even as I sometimes wondered if the folks involved in it knew what they were doing right. There is bona fide talent in the kitchen, and the laid back attitude in the front of the house (though really there isn't much separation between front and back here — even the kitchen is out front) seemed right with the overall feel of the place.

But on a recent brunch visit everything fell apart, and I was left wondering yet again whether earlier enjoyable visits were only flukes.


brian-koziolWalt Disney World has a master sommelier again.

Brian Koziol, who previously worked for WDW from 1994 to 2004, has rejoined the resort with the rather cumbersome title of (deep breath) concept and development director of food and beverage, front of the house. Basically, he told me in a phone conversation, he will oversee the beverage program for all venues that serve beverages. So, a big task.

Walt Disney World has not had a master somm on staff since John Blazon was laid off in May of 2009.

Blazon, Koziol and and fellow master sommelier George Miliotes, also a former Disney cast member now overseeing the wine program for Darden Restaurants, have continued to work together to educate others interested in earning sommelier certification. Koziol said that even after Blazon left, the company continued to support their efforts. "We always had at least 50 people come through our classes" each year, he said.

Koziol was director of sales for Stacole Fine Wines before accepting the position at Disney World. "This is a bit of a homecoming," he said. "I'm really thrilled to be back."


spoleto exterior

Pasta shouldn't be complicated. Spoleto, a new concept that opened recently near UCF with other locations coming soon, makes it so. That isn't to say that what it offers isn't good. In fact, I liked my food — and other aspects about the experience — at Spoleto a lot. I just wish it weren't so confusing. And it doesn't have to be, but I'll get to that in a moment.

Spoleto is another in the growing list of assemblage concepts, the quick-serve restaurants where diners select the ingredients from various columns to be assembled by a worker behind the counter as you watch. And in the case of Spoleto, while you wait, too. Spoleto calls this "Culinary Freedom." Keep in mind that freedom isn't free, but in this case it is reasonably priced.


osprey kitchen

Word had come down that the Osprey Tavern, a new and splashy addition to Baldwin Park, had completed a soft opening, invitation only dinners and was ready to open to the public. March 17 was the official date, so I was surprised when 10 days later my guests and I were presented with menus emblazoned with "soft opening" at the top. At what point do you commit and just say "we're open"?

The menu now available through the restaurant's Facebook page (the official website is "coming soon," though I don't think soon still qualifies) does not say soft opening, but it also doesn't look like a complete menu, either. Like the one I was presented, it has only three entrees, or plates, as they're referred to here, if you don't count the two pizzas, and I don't.

Let me just say right off that I liked Osprey Tavern overall, though, as is the case with most just-opened restaurants, some tweaks and adjustments are needed. But I find the atmosphere lively and fun, the service more than serviceable, and the menu, limited as it is, off to a good start.


SchenardiFabrizio Schenardi, executive chef at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World, will be given the Paolo Bertani Award on April 18, 2015, in Italy. The award is given every two years by the Italian Academy of Cuisine in collaboration with the IFSE Culinary Institute to an Italian born chef who started his or her career in that country and continues to preserve the culture and cuisine of Italy worldwide.

Schenardi oversees all of the restaurants at the Four Seasons but has an especial affinity for Ravello, the hotel's breakfast and lunchl Italian restaurant. 

Schenardi began his culinary career in Torino and did his apprenticeship in Sardinia. He opened the Orlando resort after working in St. Louis.