Picture a prime rib sandwich. Do you have a good image in your mind? Does it look anything like a Philly cheesesteak?
That’s not what I was expecting either when I stopped in to check out Bravissimo in its new location. Actually, it’s no longer Bravissimo; it’s now Bravissimo Chophouse, or, as I saw it in at least one advertisement, TJ’s Bravissimo Chophouse, for owner TJ Bennett.
Bravissimo, of course, was the little neighborhood boite that lived on Shine Avenue in Orlando for many years. It’s origins, under various partners, go back to a location on Howell Branch Road in Winter Park. The place on Shine was just the sort of cafe you hope to find in your own neighborhood, at least in terms of atmosphere, the sort of place you can stroll to and sit outside at a small table and dine on Italian fare. In recent years, Bravissimo had become all ambience and no substance. The limitations of a tiny kitchen that had been retrofitted into the building, which was originally a small market, were never overcome by Bravissimo or any of the previous restaurant tenants. And there were several.
Now Bravissimo has moved into the former Straub’s Fine Seafood space on Altamonte Drive. I’m not sure why the Chophouse was added to the name. There are no chops on the lunch menu, which isn’t so unusual, even for an actual chophouse. But a look at the dinner menu revealed only one pork chop among the more familiar Italian dishes. It may be that one or more of the other steak entrees is offered bone-in, but the menu didn’t say so. Prime rib is offered on weekends, and I’ll assume it’s actual prime rib and not chopped steak But if you’re going to call yourself a chophouse, wouldn’t you celebrate your choppiness?.
And wouldn’t you get rid of the nautical theme from the previous restaurant? It’s been years since I was inside the Straub’s (something apparently many people could say given that Straub’s no longer is there), but it appeared to me that nothing was done to alter the decor, which is looking a bit weary these days. The walls are painted barn wood, and there is a row of mounted fish over the front window. Perhaps the artwork is new: I certainly would have remembered some of these obviously local paintings, especially the one that appeared to illustrate a woman in bondage. Trussed chicken, anyone?
But budgets being what they are these days, I can’t fault too much for not changing decor. But I do take issue with a prime rib sandwich that is a Philly cheesesteak, right down to the peppers and cheese. And a baked potato soup that is served only slightly above room temperature isn’t very appealing, either.
Service was inexplicably slow, even with a dining room mostly empty. Perhaps they’re still getting used to their new surroundings, although they’ve been in the space since May. You’d think they would be more settled. And you’d think by now someone would have shown them a picture of a prime rib sandwich.
Bravissimo Chophouse is at 512 E. Altamonte Drive, Altamonte Springs. They’re open for lunch Tuesday through Friday and Sunday, and for dinner Tuesday through Sunday. The phone number is 407-834-3222. Here’s a link to the Web site.