I sort of get the impression that Stasio's Italian Deli & Market is a work in progress and that the people doing the work aren't exactly sure themselves what the final product will be.
But for all the tentativeness in the air, the food that I've sampled so far is solidly good.
I dropped in for an order to go because one of the things that is still uncertain is whether Stasio's wants people to dine in. There's a marble ledge at the windows for people to eat at, and a couple of outdoor tables. But it definitely isn't a linger-over-dinner spot.
Poke, pronounced poh-kay but not spelled with an accent mark, because Hawaiian, is the meal in a bowl option that usually features fresh raw fish as its prominent protein.
Poke Hana is one of the more recent entries among the the local poke providers. It occupies a rather spartan but colorful spot in a storefront on East Colonial Drive in the Mills 50 district. One supposes the decor is meant to approximate a beachside shack somewhere in Hawaii. There are long narrow tables (too narrow, really, for two people to sit across from one another) with yellow and white metal chairs that no one would ever look at and think, "Boy, those sure look comfortable." Touches of neon, ceiling fans with a rattan look, and a projector splashing a video of surfers on one of the walls completes the Maui-like mien.
1921 by Norman Van Aken will host a five-course wine dinner paired with the Champagnes of Billecart-Salmon Thursday, Nov. 8, at 6:30 p.m. $180 per person. Click here for tickets. And no, salmon is not one of the entrees.
Speaking of Norman Van Aken, the celebrity chef who also owns Norman's at the Ritz-Carlton in Orlando and Three, a restaurant in Miami, caused a bit of a stir when he declined an invitation to cook for a fundraiser to be sponsored by Donald Trump and his son Eric at Mar-a-Lago. "I would not feel it to be honorable of me to seem to align myself with the policies of the Trump administration as it might be concluded by cooking there," the James Beard award winner told the Miami Herald.
Mooyah Burgers, a franchise out of Plano, Tex., is slated to move into the Mango's Tropical Cafe complex on International Drive next year. It's taking a space that was supposed to be Hogan's Beach Shop (as in Hulk). So, lateral move.
The restaurants listed in the poll below have advanced from the nominating phase and are the finalists for Best Italian in our Foodster Awards for Independent Restaurants.
You may vote for only one restaurant, and please vote just once.
After placing your vote, leave a comment below telling us why you like your selection (be sure to mention the name of the restaurant in you comment otherwise we won't know which one you're talking about). We may use your comments when we announce the winners.
Please note: All the votes received during the nominating phase have been zeroed out. You must vote in the finals for your choice to count.
Voting ends Nov. 7. The Winners will be announced in the Nov. 8 edition of Scott Joseph's Orlando Restaurant Guide's eletter. To subscribe, text SJO to 66866.