Armando's
Address463 New England Ave.
CityWinter Park
Phone407-951-8930
Price$
Scott's Review

A new offering from Armando Martorelli, owner of Trattoria Toscana on Park Avenue, Armando's is a more casual Italian restaurant. Pizzas are a focus, but there are also full entrees, such as veal Milanese, and the price point is very good, with most entrees in the mid teens.

It's a big bright space with doors and windows that open wide to the outdoors. There is plenty of seating outside, too.

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Armando's College Park
Address2305 Edgewater Drive
CityOrlando
Phone407-930-0333
Price$$$
Scott's Review
A College Park outpost of the Hannibal Square eatery. The vibe here is a bit more vibrant, at least on nights that have a good crowd, which seems to be most of them.... Read more
Ataj Indian Restaurant
Address2901 Parkway Blvd.
CityKissimmee
Phone407-507-0072
Price$$
Scott's Review
There’s no reason for us to get into a discussion of preconceived notions for restaurants in this part of town. Let’s just say that a disappointing number of businesses seem to ascribe to the theory that they don’t really need to try very hard to impress customers because, being in a tourist-dominated area, a new wave of customers comes in every week. It’s unfortunate, but it happens. Happily, I did not get that feeling from Ataj. The place was fresh, clean and comfortable, and the staff were all welcoming.... Read more
Aurora at the Celeste
Address4105 N. Alafay Trail
CityOrlando
Phone407-207-4700
Price$$$
Scott's Review
Frankly, just reading the menu probably won’t stir any hopes of good food. Skirt steak, grilled salmon, a burger, shrimp and grits (is it a law now that every restaurant must have shrimp and grits on its menu?) – don’t foretell great things to come. But come in, have a seat – there are plenty available most evenings – and let the kitchen, led by chef Mike Trudnak, change your mind.... Read more
B.B. King’s Blues Club
Address9101 International Drive
Pointe Orlando
CityOrlando
Phone407-370-4550
Price$$
Scott's Review

You can expect to chow down on Southern comfort foods, signature items from Memphis, the Mississippi delta and the bayous of Louisiana.

Well, OK, not all of it is authentically Southern, such as the nachos, unless you’re talking south of the border. My guest and I had put ourselves in the hands of the chef who sent out this massive mound of chips and cheese and other accouterments, including pulled pork. The chips were surprisingly crispy, and there were plenty of toppings.

However, I preferred the platter of fried dill pickles, smallish but crisp, and the meaty barbecued ribs with a sweetish sauce.

Better still was the bowl of gumbo ya ya, with smoked chicken, andouille sausage, crawfish and peppers in a roux as dark as the bayou.

For my entree I had the chicken fried chicken, a meaty breast with a jacket of buttermilk breading topped with pan gravy and accompanied by macaroni and cheese.

There's also good live entertainment, including the 10-person B.B. King house band. Don't expect to see the blues legend himself too often, however: even when he's performing in town he isn't obligated to stop in.

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Babbi Babbi Korean Kitchen
Address8015 Turkey Lake Road
CityOrlando
Phone407-270-6868
Price$$
Scott's Review
Babbi Babbi Korean Kitchen wasn’t exactly what I was expecting it to be. In fact, I’ll admit to being a bit disappointed when I walked into the new eatery at Phillips Crossing and discovered it was a quick-serve (order at the counter) operation. Even more annoyed to discover that the classic dish Bibimbap was offered as an assemblage item, with the diner tasked with choosing type of rice, which meat and what toppings to enhance or possibly ruin this traditional rice dish. But I found plenty of other dishes on the menu that didn’t require me to act as an inexperienced chef, and I soon learned that even though one orders the food at the counter, service is supplied throughout the meal. And even better, the food was quite good.... Read more
Bahama Breeze, International Drive
Address8849 International Drive
CityOrlando
Phone407-248-2499
Price$$$

It will be interesting to see if Darden keeps backing this Islands concept, which for some reason has never quite caught on with the dining public. For the most part, the food is good  and the restaurants are attractive and lively, often with entertainment. And they’re a favorite outdoor dining destination for locals.

As for the food, my companion out-ordered me with tortilla soup and a ropa Joe sandwich. The soup had layer upon layer of textures and tastes, with pliant avocado cubes, chicken and strips of tortillas.

The sandwich was, as the name might suggest, a version of the classic ropa vieja specialty of shredded beef served on a Cuban roll. Lots of well-seasoned meat, some cheese, peppers and onions livened it up.

For my starter course, I chose a special of ahi tuna ceviche, which featured tiny cubes of tuna dressed with citrus juices served atop a platform supported by watercress. The watercress was more annoying than helpful. It was wadded onto the plate in long stems, and every time I tried to fork a little watercress with some tuna, a long vine would trail behind.

For my entree, I had another special of... Read more

Bice
AddressPortofino Bay
5601 Universal Blvd.
CityOrlando
Phone407-503-1415
Price$$$$
Scott's Review

Dinner at Bice is not an inexpensive night out. But when you consider cost vs. quality, you’ll find that Bice is not overpriced.

Just consider the restaurant’s signature dish, ravioli stuffed with beef short ribs and spinach. The pasta was delicately thin and tender, and the braised meat inside had a rich, fatty mouthfeel that blossomed with the sauce of mushrooms and Marsala wine. Absolute heaven.

Or another from the list of primi piatti, big, fat tortellini filled with spinach and ricotta and dressed with a sauce of butter and sage.

From the secondi my companion had the scalloppine di vitello, flattened medallions of veal sauteed with a darkly rich mushroom sauce and served with a timbale of potatoes similar to a potatoes Anna dish.

I chose a special of the evening that featured sea bass in parchment. Enclosed inside the envelope with zucchini, yellow squash, red and green peppers, and a few salty olives, the fish took on all the vegetable flavors while maintaining a fresh and moist texture. The taste was buttery and absolutely delicious.

Desserts are worth lingering over.

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