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DanielDaniel restaurant, New York

A few years ago while I was dining at Paul Bocuse in Collonges-au-Mont-d’Or outside Lyon, a couple walked through the dining room wearing shorts. They had just changed out of the long pants they had dined in, so at least the (then) three-starred restaurant’s staff had required them to change. But the gentleman had not worn a jacket during the meal, something that would have been unheard of in the past (and maybe had something to do with Michelin dropping a star from the restaurant’s most recent rating).

At Daniel in New York last December, the people in the group I was hosting with Art In Voyage had all dressed appropriately, the gentlemen not only wearing the required jackets but ties, to boot (and no boots). But at another table, a group of twenty-somethings sat wearing felt crowns (think Jughead from the Archie comics) that would have looked just right at a Burger King but not in one of Manhattan’s toniest dining rooms. When I passed the host stand on the way to the men’s room, I asked the maitre d’, “What’s up with the crowns?” I thought maybe he hadn’t noticed, but he just shrugged and said they were just being festive. I told him I thought it was odd.

It was also disruptive and changed the dynamic of the dining room.

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Pizza slice out

The next category in our Foodster Awards for Independent Restaurants is Best Pizza.

Below are the preliminary nominees. You may vote for up to three candidates. Those getting the most votes will advance to the finals.

You may also write in a candidate. But remember, Foodster Awards are only for Independent Restaurants, defined as those with three or fewer locations. Chains are not eligible and any write-ins that do not qualify will be deleted.

Also, do not write in the name of a restaurant that already appears on the list. Duplicates will be deleted along with any additional votes they’ve received.

Nominations will be accepted through Monday, May 30. Finalists will be announced May 31.

After voting, leave a comment telling us which pizzeria you voted for and why. Give a specific type of pie if you like. We may use your comments when the winners are announced.

Here are the nominees for Best Pizza 2022:

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Goffs ext

Landmark ice cream stand Goff’s Drive-In was damaged in a fire Friday and is closed. The fire is under investigation and is believed to have started in a restroom. There were no injuries.

The stand, at 212 S. Orange Blossom Trail in Orlando, opened in June 1948 and is one of the oldest food operations in town. David Porter, a former colleague of mine from the Orlando Sentinel, reminisced on Facebook that when Goff’s opened, its owner allowed Black and white customers to order from the same counter. “The KKK warned him,” wrote Porter, “but when he persisted, the ‘Bed Sheet Boys’ blew up the ice-cream stand one night in 1951 (around the same time they killed Harry and Harriette Moore in Mims).”

According to news sources, Goff’s current owner, Todd Peacock, had been in a dispute over parking with a neighboring property owner. Earlier this month, surveillance footage from Goff’s showed a man walking behind the building with a bag; moments later smoke was seen coming from the shop.

Peacock has vowed to reopen.

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Barnies extBarnie's in 2014 when it carried the CoffeeKitchen name (via Facebook).

Barnie’s Coffee & Tea Co., the Central Florida-based caffieneator, is planning to execute a redo of the cafe concept on Park Avenue. According to Scott Uguccioni, chief sales and marketing officer, it should happen “sometime later this year,” but few other details are available right now. He did say that one of the things they’re finalizing involves menu details, so I’m guessing that food will still be a part of this refresh.

It was almost 11 years ago that Barnie’s launched its CoffeeKitchen concept at the Winter Park location with an ambitious plan to offer food along with its popular line of coffees and teas. They even eventually hired the estimable chef Camilo Velasco as the company’s executive chef, who did in fact produce some delicious food items.

But for some reason, the concept never caught on, and CoffeeKitchen was dropped from the name. (Velasco, of course, moved on to 1921 by Norman Van Aken, then to Ravenous Pig and is now at Disney’s Old Key West Resort.)

So what will be different this time? Can’t wait to find out. But I’m guessing that with so many Foxtails, Lineages, Credos and other upstarts to contend with, a rejuvenation of the 42-year-old company’s brand is in order.

I’ll let you know more when I know more.

(Also, I know more. Shhh.)

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tartini22 ext

Tartini, the “Pizza & Spaghetteria” in the unofficially designated SoSoDo district, near Belle Isle on South Orange Avenue, has gone through several changes in its nine years, including ownership and, at one point in 2016, a closing.

But today, Tartini is back and serving some of the best Italian food around, and not just in this culinarily starved part of town but in all of Orlando.

The Pizza & Spaghetteria part of its name doesn’t quite give a full accounting of the menu here, though pizza is still a forte, as it always was, thanks to its unique oven that rotates and lifts the pies through the wood-fired heat to create a perfect pizza in under two minutes.