Newsy Nuggets: Openings, closings, reopenings and an anniversary giveaway

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Marketplace exterior

Spoleto Italian Kitchen, the Brazilian franchise that entered the U.S. market in 2015 with a location near UCF then closed all Central Florida shops early in the pandemic, is returning with a restaurant at the Marketplace at Avalon Park. It is expected to start assembling pasta dishes in July. Since October, Spoleto has been working out of the Dollins Food Hall ghost kitchen.

The chain – originally known as Spoleto – My Italian Kitchen – was started in 1999 in Rio de Janeiro and opened its first restaurant in the United States in Orlando in 2015 on University Boulevard. It was an assemblage concept that had the customer choose the type of pasta, sauces and other ingredients to be added to a bowl by a staff member behind the line.

The Avalon restaurant will be the chain’s 344th location.

Padrino’s, the upscale Cuban cafe that opened in the Hunters Creek area in 2009, has closed that location. Five other locations remain in South Florida, from whence it came.

Taste of Chengdu has reopened its original location at 2030 W. Colonial Drive. However, for the meantime, the owners have closed the Baldwin Park outlet until sometime in June.

The recently closed Cafe de France restaurant will be taken over by East End Marketeer Farm & Haus.

Also closed: Monsters Cafe at Universal Studios. (Universal apparently thought it would be fun to make this announcement on Friday the 13th.) An announcement of my own: I had no idea that a place called Monsters Cafe existed.

But it was apparently well-known – the news was trending on Twitter early Friday. As on tweeter said: “Most days all I really want to be doing is eating subpar food inside Universal Orlando's Monsters Cafe.”

Good news, John. You can get subpar food at most Universal’s restaurants. Rumor is that the monsters will be replaced by a Minions themed restaurant, so I’m betting that trend will continue.

Here’s another announcement: Tomorrow, May 14, is the 13th anniversary of Scott Joseph’s Orlando Restaurant Guide. A previous version of the site existed before 2009, but it was on this date 14 years ago that it became a full-service website, complete with a database of reviewed restaurants searchable by cuisines, location and special features, something that no other local publication offers. (We also publish more reviews than any other publication, but that’s just bragging.)

This month also happens to mark the 34th anniversary of my arrival in Central Florida to become the restaurant critic for the Orlando Sentinel. After an estimated 3,400 reviews, I’m still at it, thanks to your readership and support.

So to commemorate the occasion, I’m giving away four gift certificates – two for the Tap Room at Dubsdread and two to Big Fin Seafood Kitchen – each worth $50. Three winners will be chosen by our usual method, selected, at random, from the list of subscribers to my weekly, not-at-all annoying newsletter. The fourth will also be chosen at random but from the followers on my Instagram page. If you’re not already on my newsletter list, sign up here. This link will take you to the Instagram page. Winners selected Wed., May 18.

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