Braccia Pizzeria & Ristorante
Address153 E Morse Blvd
CityWinter Park
Phone407-636-9918
Price$$
Scott's Review
Braccia is small but has a certain charm in its glassed in wine cabinet, floor to ceiling blackboards and distressed wood tabletops. The charm does not extend to the Astroturflike greenery that has been applied in freeform to one of the brick walls; that’s just odd. Pizza, thin-crusted and well-topped, is good, but so are the pasta dishes.... Read more
Buca Di Beppo
Address1351 S. Orlando Ave.
CityMaitland
Phone407-622-7663
Price$$$

Additional location: Florida Mall, 8001 S. Oragne Blossom Trail, Orlando; 407-859-7844. This national chain was recently purchased by Orlando resident (and Planet Hollywood founder) Robert Earl, who is remaking the restaurant into a fun place for the family to dine. The menu has undergone a redo as well, with an eye toward freshness. For example, all sauces are made daily at each location. That's pretty impressive.

Portions are humongous, so have a little and save the rest for your next three meals.


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Café D’Antonio
Address691 Front St.
CityCelebration
Phone407-566-2233
Price$$$

A smaller version of Greg Gentile’s flagship restaurant, Antonio’s La Fiamma, Café d’Antonio is the consistently good restaurant for residents and visitors in Celebration.

My dining guest and I started the evening with the antipasti assortito for two, which featured an array of delicacies including bruschetta alla Romana, smoked salmon, sliced prosciutto, salami and cheese, and insalata ai frutti di mare.

The bruschetta was also quite good, toasted bread rounds topped with bright red chopped tomatoes seasoned with olive oil, garlic and sweet basil.

Its hard to say which of the entrees was my favorite; I enjoyed them all. But I especially liked the zuppa di pesce, a bountiful bowl of fish, squid, shrimp, scallops and lobster in a light broth served over linguine.

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Cafe Trastevere
Address825 N. Magnolia Ave
CityOrlando
Phone407-839-0235
Price$$
Scott's Review
Small eatery in a former house (built before central air conditioning, apparently). The cuisine isn't trail-blazing, but good basic dishes may be had. Go on a cool day.... Read more
Cala Bella
AddressRosen Shingle Creek Resort
9939 Universal Blvd.
CityOrlando
Phone407-996-9939
Price$$$$
Scott's Review

The food here is deliciously good, and the atmosphere is grandiloquent. But the prices are a bit steep, apparently geared toward the expense-accounted business traveler.

Seafood pescatore features a saffron seasoned fish stock tinged with tomato, with an abundance of seafood, including an Australian lobster tail, two impressively plump scallops, shrimp, clams and mussels. Under it all was a nest of fresh pappardelle pasta.

The al dente ribbons were part of my companion’s entrée of pappardelle ai bistecche, which was listed under the menu’s pasta heading, though in truth this was a steak dish. It featured 10 ounces of New York strip from Harris Ranch, cooked to a perfect medium-rare and sliced, the noodles piled on top with a sauce of mushrooms and tomato ragout. Quite nice.

We had started our meal with the mozzarella stuffed Bella meatballs, three bocce ball-sized orbs of moist ground meat braised in Barolo wine. The meatballs were more enjoyable than the calamari fritte, which was a little too damp.

Service was exceptional.

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Chianti's Pizza & Pasta
Address685 Towne Center Blvd.
CitySanford
Phone407-878-5900
Price$$
Scott's Review
There's nothing special about the atmosphere, but the food is very good, and the service is sincere. I liked my lobster ravioli, and the "Big Meat" pizza was good, too, although it could have used a bit more of the big meats. There is a second location in Longwood.... Read more
Delmonico's Italian Steakhouse
Address6115 Westwood Blvd.
CityOrlando
Phone407-226-2662
Price$$
Scott's Review
Even though this is a restaurant out of New York, don't confuse it with the legendary Manhattan steakhouse. Not that you would once you stepped inside this casual yet boisterous place. The signature item here is the same-named cut of meat.

I must say it was an impressive looking steak, a beautiful 24-ouncer that had been cooked perfectly to the requested medium-rare. And with the exception of the first bite, which was all gristle, the meat was quite tender, and at $19.99 for such a large steak, it seemed to be quite a deal.

So would it have been too much to ask that the steak have some flavor? It had none. It was ultimately just a big slab of meat that could substantially fill an empty stomach without offering much in the way of enjoyment. It was served with a side of penne with a passable red sauce.

Unfortunately, management seems to think that anyone coming in through the door is a tourist. They're not treated poorly, they're just not treated as though they're coming back again. There are dozens of places on International Drive that are better than Delmonico's.

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Due Amici
Address2124 Edgewater Drive
CityOrlando
Phone407-730-7747
Price$$
Scott's Review
Operationally, the place is a little haphazard. But the kitchen knows what it's doing. Pizza is especially good.... Read more