Now that’s a sandwich.
I hadn’t expected much when I pulled off of Semoran Boulevard into the newly developed strip of businesses about a half mile north of Colonial Drive. We’d stopped at this address before to sample Paradiso Pizza — which was also quite good. Back then, Valisa Bakery was still under construction, so when I saw the neon Open sign, I figured I’d give it a try.
Valisa is a Puerto Rican bakery, deli and restaurant. Its front display case is filled with scrumptious looking pastries, pies and cakes. I was looking for something savory, so I started perusing the menu board on the wall behind the counter. But it was a video display that changed frequently, often just as I was about to read a sandwich’s description. The young woman anticipated by frustration and handed me a printed menu.
I zeroed in on the Choripan, which technically is more of a South American sandwich than Caribbean, but it sounded good to me. It gets its name from mashing up of the words chorizo and pan, or bread. Here it also includes smoked ham along with swiss cheese and sauteed onions.
And all of it was impressively stacked. The layers of meat made me think of a New York delicatessen. And the fresh bread, slightly pressed, made it all the more enjoyable. With a bag of chips included, it was quite a feast for $7.50.
I returned for another visit and had one of the hot lunches from the steam tables behind the glass counter. When I was waiting for my sandwich on that first visit, I had noticed favorites such as roast pork and stewed beef. The selections weren’t as enticing this time, but I settled on barbecued ribs served with rice and red beans and a stack of tostones. It was again an impressive amount of food, but it didn’t come close to the quality of the sandwich.
I also sampled a sweet bread with cream cheese and fruit. In the Puerto Rican style, the pastry was more bready in texture. All fresh tasting but I’m definitely a savory sort of fellow.
There is a small and tidy dining area if you prefer to dine in. And all of the staff I met were friendly and welcoming.
Go for a really terrific sandwich. And if any of you are harboring notions of opening a sandwich restaurant, be sure to visit Valisa Bakery to see how it should be done.
Valisa Bakery is at 1654 N. Semoran Blvd, Orlando. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner (early closing each night) daily. The phone number is 407-250-6050.