Rice Paper Vietnamese Restaurant Closed

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Rice Paper, one of the first Vietnamese restaurants to locate outside the Mills50 neighborhood, and whose innovative cuisine earned it my Foodie Award, has closed. While the majority of Vietnamese restaurants were -- and still are -- in the area of  Mills Avenue and Colonial Drive (U.S. Highway 50), Rice Paper chose the Bay Hill Plaza on Turkey Lake Road in the vicinity of Restaurant Row to open in 2004. The small cafe was also distinct in that it went beyond the usual offerings of pho and vermicelli-based dishes to offer more stylized and creative cuisine that had a gourmet flair but was still based in tradition.

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Win a Weekend Pass to the Orlando Food & Wine Festival

Written by Scott Joseph on .

OFWF_2010_LogoThe third annual Orlando Food & Wine Fest is coming up. The event, which is presented by 103.1 WLOQ and the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, will be Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 13 and 14, at Lake Eola in downtown Orlando. To celebrate, I’m giving away two pairs of weekend passes in this week’s drawing. As with all other drawings, the winners will be selected from among the list of SJO newsletter recipients. If you’re already signed up, you’re already entered to win; if now, fill in the box at the bottom of this article and you will be in moments.

Pizza Fusion has Closed its Sand Lake Location

Written by Scott Joseph on .

The Sand Lake area has lost an outlet for organic, environmentally sustainable and gluten-free pizzas. The local Pizza Fusion franchise has closed. Visitors to the Restaurant Row storefront location are greeted by signs on the front door thanking them for their support over the past year and a half, but, “the economy has finally taken its toll.”

Through the windows one can see dozens of bottles of wine stacked on the counter top, and in a parking space out front is the colorful Pizza Fusion delivery car. But there was no one visible inside.

When I reviewed the then-new pizza joint in June of 2009, I noted that they took the environmental mission seriously, with counters made of recycled glass and biodegradable utensils. There were even low-flush toilets in the restrooms. And I liked the pizzas and the young staff serving them. Sorry for the loss.

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Victoria & Albert's Area's Best in Annual Zagat America's Top Restaurants

Written by Scott Joseph on .

AmTopsRest_2011Zagat Survey has released its 2011 version of “America’s Top Restaurants” and rates Victoria & Albert’s as the best in Central Florida. The Grand Floridian restaurant scored 28 (out of a possible 30) for food, 27 for decor and 28 for service. Le Coq au Vin was the second-highest rated restaurant in the area with a score of 28-19-25 (decor always was its weak point).

Rounding out the top five in Orlando were Primo, Chatham’s Place and Enzo’s, each with a food score of 27. (No restaurant in any of the cities in the survey has a perfect 30 for food.)

When the restaurants are ranked by their popularity, the winners in Central Florida are, in order, California Grill, Seasons 52, Victoria & Albert’s, Emeril’s Orlando and Jiko.

The annual survey presents 1,552 restaurants in the country’s 45 major markets. Ratings are the results of questionnaires completed by diners. Editors compile restaurant descriptions from comments in the questionnaires, resulting in paragraphs filled with quotation marks.

The top food rankings for Orlando include: