Antonio’s in Maitland, the two-story Italian venue, has always offered two distinct dining experiences – a casual cafe and market on the ground floor and an upscale ristorante above.
It continues to offer separate experiences in today’s restrictive dining atmosphere. The cafe is promoting its takeout menu while the upstairs dining room is open to limited-capacity dining in.
The two almost act as separate businesses: visit the parent website and you’ll be asked to choose between the two venues. The cafe, available for takeout only, has an online ordering form but the upstairs restaurant does not. After looking over both menus, I really wanted to order my takeout from the upstairs restaurant, and I was delighted to learn when I called that that would be just fine and that my order could be taken over the phone.
I first visited Pio Pio Latin Cuisine on Semoran Boulevard in the middle of March and, as irony would have it, I ordered takeout thinking that I’d return in a week or two for an in-house visit. And we all know what happened next.
But seeing as I had a good takeout experience, I figured I might as well go ahead and tell you about it.
Food insecurity has been a local problem for a long time, and it’s getting worse as the pandemic rages on. Thousands of Central Floridians remain furloughed – many from jobs that were low-paying to begin with – and are struggling to pay bills, rent and buy food. To get a gut-punching idea of the situation, read Gabrielle Russon’s article in the Orlando Sentinel about a weekly food giveaway for people out of work with a line of cars that stretches two miles.
Breadlines have become motorized. And instead of the haggard faces of downtrodden men seen in Depression-era photographs, these lines are occupied by your neighbors.
Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, which has been fighting the hunger fight for years, notes that the area is expecting a 49 percent increase in the number of people who will face food insecurity this year. One in six Central Floridians.
So Second Harvest has launched a monthlong campaign to Stock the Shelves as part of a national initiative called Hunger Action Month. The organization is encouraging those of us fortunate to have enough to take action to help others. This may include donating 30 nonperishable food items – one for every day of September; donating $30 for 30 days of hunger (or more if you’re able); donating half of your buy-one-get-one food purchase; or signing up to volunteer – those two-mile-long food lines don’t staff themselves.
Many of the ingredients may be found in your favorite grocery store, but you may need to go to an Indian specialty store, such as Spice House in Longwood, for the curry leaves. (They keep the curry leaves behind the checkout counter, for some reason.)
Watch the video then click Read More to read Pulapaka’s recipe. And make the naan, too, it really adds to the enjoyment.