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If you head out to try Knife Burger at JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes, you may want to take your swim suit along. The newest offering from meat master John Tesar is essentially a service of the resort’s pool bar, a covered but open-air pavilion with tables and bar seating and guests in various degrees of undress and dampness.

If you didn’t already know that Tesar, whose knife & Spoon restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton next door was recently awarded a Michelin star, was attached to the burger joint, you probably wouldn’t figure it out if you just hopped out of the pool with a craving for a bite to eat.

Neither the signage nor the menu, which features more than just burgers, give any indication that the celebrity chef is involved.


Stefanos dining room

You’re going to need to get your fix of Tortellini de Stefano or Vitello alla Bolognese before Friday or be prepared to wait until next Tuesday because popular restaurant Stefano’s Trattoria in Winter Springs is taking the Fourth of July weekend off. Owner F. Alejandro Martinez posted that he was closing for a few days to allow his staff to enjoy the holiday weekend with their families. He noted that one year ago he made the decision to close on Sundays and noticed a significant change in morale. “No only we, as a team, are more happy,” he wrote, “but we can devinitely agree that the execution of the daily activities are much more enjoyable and fun!” This will be the first time in eight years Stefano’s has taken a whole-restaurant vacation.

The closing of Too Much Sauce Kitchen, an assemblage restaurant in Mills 50, is effective “immediately and permanently,” according to owner Evan Dimov. The restaurant had recently closed June 19 because staff members, including Dimov’s wife, had tested positive for Covid-19 or were otherwise ill. It reopened the 23d. Sunday, Dimov made the decision to close permanently, due in part to not being able to come to terms with the Mills Park landlord to renew the lease. Speaking by phone Monday, Dimov said those issues and “inflation going through the roof” added to his decision to close the five-year-old business even though three months remained on the lease. The landlord may have been accommodating to that notion because a replacement tenant has already been signed up. Stay tuned.


Nashville Night

Grande Lakes Orlando is hosting Nashville Night Saturday, June 25, at the Ritz-Carlton. The evening features music from Chase McGill and Brock Berryhill, with food stations and open bar. Food and drink start at 6 p.m. and the music will get underway at 7. A fireworks show and meet and greet with the guests will wrap up the night. Tickets are $195 for adults and $165 for kids up to age 12 (no open bar for them). Clicks for tix.


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Do you want to know what I like about The 1 Cantina, a new Mexican restaurant in Avalon Park? Everything.

I like the comfortable and attractive space. I like the knowledgeable and charming staff, led by the gracious owners, Giovanni Rodriguez and Marigel Haaz.

And I especially like the food. This is true Mexican cuisine. It’s not Tex-Mex or a Floridian’s idea of what Mexican food should be. There isn’t a burrito or fajita on the menu; no sides of rice or refried beans, either. I didn’t even see one flour tortilla. As Rodriguez explains, he wanted to present foods of Mexico City he remembers from cantina tours with his father. I sampled a number of items from the menu and there wasn’t a thing I wouldn’t order again.


Muhammara Sauce

This month’s edition of “Local Flavor,” my collaboration with The Community Paper, features a recipe from Hungry Pants, the SoDo restaurant that is “100 percent plant based 80 percent of the time,” according to its owners, Joey Conicella and Alex Marin.

Marin and Conicella are sharing Hungry Pants’ recipe for muhammara, a versatile and spicy dip popular in Lebanon, Syria and Turkey (the country, not the bird). “I am a big believer in having ‘back pocket’ options to use for quick options at home,” Marin said. “Muhammara is something that both Joey and I are obsessed with. We use it as a dipping sauce for crudité, spread it on toast in the morning with a runny egg for breakfast, and add it to sandwiches for a little extra flavor.”

Find the recipe at YourCommunityPaper.com and give it a try. You can even put it on turkey.