Armando’s, the Italian restaurant from Winter Park’s Hannibal Square, has opened a second location in College Park. It takes over the space in the Wellesley condominium building that most recently was occupied by Hangar Bar and Grille (and originally was Harmoni Market).
It would appear to be an immediate hit, if the crowd that was packed into it on a recent Friday is any indication. Tables were hard to come by for anyone not wanting to wait at least 40 minutes, and there was a pleasant thrum from the people throughout the large space who showed no interest in making the wait shorter.
My companion and I snagged two seats at the bar and looked over the extensive (and difficult to read) menu.
From the list of antipasti per due, we ordered the Calamari Luciana to share (since there was due of us). It was a bowl of squid rings and squidlets sautéed in wine along with plum tomatoes. The squid had varying degrees of doneness, but it was mostly enjoyable.
My guest chose the Vitello alla Cacciatore as an entree. It featured tender scallopini in a sauce of tomatoes, bell peppers, bits of onions and sliced mushrooms and served over basic spaghetti. The sauce was well seasoned and pulpy.
I chose my entree based mainly on the type of pasta I wanted. I was in the mood for ribbons of pappardelle, so I ordered the Pappardelle al Ragu. The menu stated that it was a Neapolitan style ragu, which would indicate larger hunks of meat with sausage, but it didn’t appear any different than Bolognese, which which uses ground meat. Still, North or South, it was a good ragu, and I loved my pappardelle.
Since our server was also the bartender he was always right there if we needed anything. (I seriously doubt, however, that his name was Heather, which is the name that was on my receipt.)
This space has been one of the unfortunate ones over the years. Harmoni, which was intended to be both a restaurant and a neighborhood market, never really caught on. Neither did Hangar or, especially, Wildside BBQ, which also tried to do sushi there. But I think Armando's might have what it takes to make a go of it here, and keep the "To Let" sign out of the window for a while.
Armando's is at 2305 Edgewater Drive, Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner daily. The phone number is 407-930-0333.