Tornatore Market ext

The long-anticipated Italian market next door to Tornatore’s Cafe & Pizzeria quietly opened Wednesday with an array of goods from the restaurant and products both imported and from local vendors.

Owner Denny Tornatore was overseeing the market Wednesday night and pointing out favorite items on hand to a few shoppers.

The space is deceptively small – from the outside you might think there couldn’t be much stock. But every available square foot is occupied by shelves and display cases, and there’s a wall of reach-in coolers chockfull with fresh pastas, deli items and foods prepared by Tornatore’s executive chef, Jason Wolfe.


logo fwc copyThe Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has extended a shutdown on wild oyster harvesting in Apalachicola Bay through the end of 2025.

The commission had initially issued an emergency shutdown that went into effect Aug. 1. The extension, which passed unanimously at the commission’s meeting Wednesday, bans on-the-water harvesting equipment such as tongs – long-handled baskets used to scoop oysters.

During the shutdown, a $17 million restoration project to restore 1000 acres of oyster habitat will be conducted. In recent years, the harvesting of oysters, once robust enough to provide 10 percent of the country’s supply, had smaller yields, due to low water flow into the bay and diminished natural reefs.

In announcing the ruling, the commission noted that the ban could be lifted sooner if conditions improve.



Grande Lakes aerial

Note: This event has been moved to the weekend of Feb. 26-28.

I have some people on my gifting list who are really difficult to buy for. So lately, I’ve become more interested in giving experiences as gifts instead of things. With things you have to know the right size, the favorite color, or whether the recipients have one already.

But experiences are unique, and people almost never buy them for themselves.

So that’s why I’m intrigued by the Curated Experiences at Grande Lakes, a new program of weekend-long events offered at the luxury resort. The inaugural Curated Experience is Jan. 29-31, 2021, so the timing is great for giving one this holiday season.

This is how it works.


Vietmi ext

Maybe it’s just me, but when I see a place called P’s VietMí Café I have questions. First, who or what is P? And what is VietMí? The café part I was able to figure out on my own.

But the other two questions remain a mystery. A young man who answered the phone at the south Orlando restaurant, which opened earlier this year, seemed perplexed that I would even ask such questions, as though no one had ever inquired before. P? It’s just the name of the restaurant. Nope, not someone’s initial; it’s just P’s.

As for my other Q, it’s called VietMí because it’s a Vietnamese restaurant. I could almost here the silent “duh!” in his response.


The Ramen interior

  • A ramen shop has closed in downtown Orlando. Not just any ramen shop, The Ramen, which opened just two years ago at the corner of North Orlando Avenue and Amelia Street. It was a quick-serve operation with a fast food mien, but the main dish was nicely done. I suppose this is another closing that can be attributed to Covid-19 and the loss of downtown office worker traffic, especially from the Orlando Sentinel, which is now permanently empty and due to be razed any time now.
  • A salty donut shop will open in Audubon Park on Friday. Not just any salty donut shop, The Salty, a small operation out of south Florida. The Salty will take over the space vacated by Gene’s Auto Services – no greasy donut jokes, please – on Corrine Drive. The company has two locations in the Miami area and two in Texas.