A roundup of the week's restaurant reviews and news from Scott Joseph's Orlando Restaurant Guide.
Park Station was the name of the restaurant that opened in 2015 at 212 Park Ave. N. in Winter Park. The restaurant that is there now is called Rustic Table. The name is the only real change here.
It's the same owners, same concept. Even the menu is basically the same. So why the name change? I couldn't hazard a guess. Well, I could, but it would just be conjecture based on hearsay. Suffice to say that the owner felt a need to do so.
As with my review of Park Station in October of 2015, my experience at Rustic Station...I mean Table was a mostly pleasant one. The food was good, service was amiable, and the chance to dine at a sidewalk table on Park Avenue added allure.
Joe Liguori, who started the Pizzeria Valdiano concept in Winter Park Village 16 years ago, is returning to that complex to open a new concept.
Liguori has taken over Firefly Kitchen and Bar (it was Taps before that) and will rebrand it The Hangry Bison, featuring craft cocktails, craft beer and build your own burgers. The restaurant will stay open as Firefly for a short time then close for a remodel. Liguori said he is hoping to have the new place up and running at the beginning of June.
This will be a change in concepts for Liguori, 40, who literally grew up in Italian restaurants. Name one of the old-time Italian restaurants in the area and you'll probably find that a member of Liguori's family owned it.
His parents had Michael's Restaurant & Pizza at 12309 E. Colonial Drive (now Tamarind's Indian) and Peppino's Ristorante Italiano in Oviedo. "I was always working as a child," Liguori said in a phone conversation Wednesday. He bused tables at Michael's when he was 11 and was making pizzas when he was 13. "I always enjoyed the kitchen because it was less formal," he told me, "but I was there to work, not to play."
Liguori's uncle and aunt are Louie and Maria Palo, who owned Amalfi, Carnevale d'Amalfi and Louie & Maria's Italian Restaurant. Liguori sold them his Pizzeria Valdiano and for the past four years has been focusing on a restaurant in the Villages called Ricciardi's Italian Table.
The Hangry Bison -- the name is a reference to a phenomenon that occurs when someone's mood sours because of hunger -- will put Liguori essentially across the street from his first Pizzeria Valdiano.
A smorgasbord of bits and tids.
- Morimoto Asia's executive chef Yuhi Fujinaga has officially named Hung Huynh as chef de cuisine at the Disney Springs restaurant. Hung (top left; photo by OMG Food Photography) was the winner of the third season of Top Chef. The two chefs have been friends and colleagues for many years.
- The National Association of Letter Carriers’ (NALC) Stamp Out Hunger food drive will be Saturday, May 12. You can leave canned goods and non-perishables in your mailbox to be picked up for free by letter carriers. (No need to paste stamps to the can.) In Florida, Farm Share, a 27-year-old, Florida-based nonprofit food organization, will be the primary beneficiary of collected supplies, which will be distributed to feed those in need, free of charge.
Wonton Asian Kitchen has all of the trappings of being a chain restaurant, including the good things that can be, such as a standardized and well-thought-out design and a regimented system for ordering and preparing.
Unfortunately, that can also mean roboticized staffers and lifeless food.
I observed all of the above at the Winter Park restaurant before discovering that it is not a chain. At least not yet. I'd bet just about anything that the owners have visions of multi-unit sales in their dreams.