La Nuova Cucina is Closed; Permanently This Time

Written by Scott Joseph on .

It looks like it’s permanent this time.

La Nuova Cucina, the charming Italian restaurant (by way of Brazil) has closed. It had previously announced that its last day would be Sept. 26. But after pleas from fans of the Restaurant Row independent, the owner decided to make another go of it.

It was a good try, but now, as of last Sunday, the restaurant has closed for good. Although I don’t think good is the proper word.

Standby for news of another restaurant and wine bar to open nearby soon.


Four Rivers Smokehouse Offers Barbecue in a Bottle

Written by Scott Joseph on .

bbq_bottle_hotHappy birthday to Four Rivers Smokehouse, celebrating its first anniversary today. The Winter Park barbecuery has been so successful that it has a second location, in Winter Garden, scheduled to open soon. And owner John Rivers has launched his own line of barbecue sauces and spice rubs that you can use at home.

I received a sample of the barbecue spice rub and I immediately rubbed it on my butt. I mean my pork butt. I mean a pork butt. After several hours of indirect heat and smoke, I had some pretty tasty pulled pork, which I further seasoned with the bottle of 4Rivers Hot barbecue sauce.

The rub has forward salt but there is also a sweetness, provided by good ol’ sugar, that steps up after you first taste it. The hot sauce -- there is also a non-hot version -- is tomato based but has a strong vinegar note, as well. A separate rub for Rivers’ now-famous beef brisket is planned but is not currently available. The sauces are available in 16-ounces for $5.99 or $21 for a gallon, if you have an especially large butt. The spice rub is $3.99.

To order online, visit the Four Rivers Smokehouse Web site.


No Joke: Second Bananas Diner Planned

Written by Scott Joseph on .

category_image_notext_homeBananas Diner, which opened only a few months ago, has been so successful that the owners are already planning a second location. Details have not been finalized, but I’ve learned that the second Bananas will have something in common with the first: It, too, will be near the owners’ other restaurant brand, Funky Monkey.

The original Bananas -- top Banana? -- is on Mills Avenue two doors from Funky Monkey; the new Bananas will be near the Funky Monkey on International Drive. Co-owner Eddie Nickell says they are planning to take over a space that has been previously unoccupied, building the diner from scratch. “This one will be very modern with approximately 225 seats,” says Nickell, “full liquor lounge, outdoor patios and state of the art open kitchen.”

The new diner will also feature a full stage with modern lighting and state of the art sound system. Guests will be able to rate and leave comments for management right at the table electronically before they leave.

What about my comments on the first Bananas Diner? I will submit them - electronically -- in this space tomorrow.


Taste of Thornton Park

Written by Scott Joseph on .

If you’re trying to come up with a dinner idea for tonight (Thursday, Oct. 21), I’ve got a terrific solution: head down to Taste of Thornton Park between 6 and 9 p.m. and you can eat yourself silly for just $30 if you buy your tickets in advance or $40 if you buy them at the gate. You can still get tickets at these places:

Aroma Italian Cafe and Wine Bar
712 E. Washington Street, Orlando, 32801 407-426-8989
Hours: 5 pm till 1 am Wednesday through Saturday
716 E. Washington Street, Orlando, 32801 407-835-8855
Hours: 11 am till 6 pm Monday through Thursday
Publix at the Paramount 
400 East Central Blvd., Orlando, 32801 407-872-7202
Hours: 7 am till 10 pm Seven days a week
Proceeds go to The Thornton Park Neighborhood Association and Outreach Love.

The action will take place around the fountain on Washington Street and Hyer Avenue. For a list of participating restaurants, visit