Peppino's will Become F&D Wood Fired Italian Kitchen

Written by Scott Joseph on .

FD dining

The owners of F&D Kitchen (above) and F&D Cantina in Lake Mary are the new owners of the just-closed Peppino's Organic Italian Kitchen & Pizzeria on Curry Ford Road in Orlando. The space is currently under renovations and will reopen this summer as F&D Italian Wood-fired Kitchen.

According to Tim Barber, who owns the concept with Charly Robinson and Neil and Glorian Leach, they are "pretty much blowing up the inside" and redoing the outside seating areas, as well. He said they would be bringing in a better quality pizza oven and will specialize in Neapolitan pizzas.

Peppino's closed after being open less than six months because the owner was diagnosed with cancer and was forced to sell, according to Hourglass developer Giovanni Fernandez.

Fernandez said that both Foxtail Coffee and Leguminati Vegan Food will open in the district in July. It was also learned that the small storefront church on Curry Ford Road just east of Bumby Avenue would be moving. The church's proximity caused issues for Claddagh Cottage when it applied for its alcohol license and prevented Cilantro's, a taco restaurant on Bumby, from being able to offer beer and wine altogether.

Peppino's, Hourglass District Pizzeria, is Closed; New Owners Expected

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Peppinos Interior

Updated with information from the developer

Peppino's Organic Italian Kitchen & Pizzeria, one of the first new businesses to open in the newly (but still unofficially) designated Hourglass District, is closed. It opened fewer than six months ago, listing Nov. 29, 2017, as its starting date on its Facebook page.

Nothing on that page gives reference to the current status, but sources say that the original owner has sold the restaurant and the new owners are remodeling with plans to reopen in August. The phone number listed for Peppino's has been disconnected.

The restaurant was greeted with anticipation by residents of the surrounding neighborhoods. The building, at 2420 Curry Ford Road, has been home for numerous short-term restaurants over the years. It was hoped that a pizzeria would be the right concept.

But despite some remodeling and the addition of outdoor patio space, Peppino's struggled to find a loyal base, due in no small part to poor service. My own observations in my review of the restaurant noted a person who appeared to be the owner and his seemingly disaffected attitude toward his customers.

No word yet on who the new owners might be. The district also is home to a new taco restaurant, Cilantro's, and the long-awaited return of Claddagh Cottage Irish Pub, directly across the street.

It was when I was visiting Claddagh on a recent Saturday evening, shortly after 8 p.m., that I noted no cars in Peppino's lot, though the restaurant was still open at the time. That says something.

More when more is available.

Update: According to developer Giovanni Fernandez, the owner of Peppino's was forced to close after he was diagnosed with cancer. more information about the new owners here.

Wine Bar George Opens Saturday

Written by Scott Joseph on .

George Headshot copy

George Miliotes will open no wine bar before it's time.

It's time.

Wine Bar George, one of the most anticipated Disney Springs venues, and one of only a few owned by locals, will open formally at 5 p.m. Saturday, May 19. It will assume regular hours on Sunday, opening at 11 a.m. and closing at 2 a.m.

Most of the restaurants at Disney Springs are fronted by celebrities, including Masaharu Morimoto, Art Smith and Rick Bayless, not to mention the upcoming projects from Wolfgang Puck and Jose Andres.

Miliotes is a rock star in his own right, one of only 249 wine experts worldwide to achieve the designation of master sommelier from the Court of Master Sommeliers organization. He started his wine education while still technically a minor as he worked at his father's popular Orlando restaurant, Chris' House of Beef.

Wine Bar George represents a return to Walt Disney World for Miliotes. Along with chef Clifford Pleau, he opened California Grill at Disney's Contemporary Resort as the general manager. Darden recruited both of them to help develop a new concept that turned out to be Seasons 52. During his time with Darden, Miliotes expanded the wine programs for the company's upscale brands, including Capital Grille.

Disney officials approached Miliotes in 2015 with the idea for a wine bar for the growing Disney Springs project. He announced he was leaving Darden in late December of that year.

The project has taken longer than he expected it to, though according to some familiar with the project, Miliotes' original estimate that the project would cost as much as $6 million was pretty close (maybe a bit over).

Obviously, this is not your typical wine bar with a plank of wood set across a couple of empty barrels. Wine Bar George is a two-story structure -- the design is based on a typical winery gravity system -- with seating for 200. More than 130 wines will be available by the ounce, glass or bottle. The wine bar will use the Coravin system for high-end cuvees that allows a needle to be inserted into a cork to extract a pour of wine without introducing air into the bottle.

Executive chef Ron Rupert has devised a menu of charcuterie, sandwiches, cheeses and dips.

Wine Bar George will open following a ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday at 4 p.m.