Maestro Cucina Napoletana has opened in Winter Park, bringing an authentic Italian food option to Park Avenue.
Maestro is a partnership between Rosario Spagnolo of Terra Mia in Altamonte Springs (and many other local restaurants that I won’t list here but you can read about here) and Antonio Martino, a Brazilian businessman who owns five McDonald’s franchises there. Don’t let that give you pause; there’s nothing clownish about the food here.
The food is solidly good quality, the atmosphere cozy and comfortable, and the service accommodating.
On my first visit my companion and I did some sharing. We started with Pasta e Fagioli, one of my favorite Italian soups. The menu says it’s “not your ordinary soup” and when I ordered it the server wanted to make sure I knew it wasn’t exactly like a soup. I couldn’t imagine what it would be instead, so I went ahead with the order and was delighted to discover that, yes, it was exactly like a soup. A good soup at that. A large bowl of cannellini beans with strips of pasta in a lightly tomato-tinged beany broth. Not sure what the warning was meant to be, but I’m glad it didn’t dissuade me.
Now, he might have said something about the Spezzatino di Vitello, which is veal stew that is very much unstewlike. Virtually no broth or gravy of any kind, the stew had plenty of peas and carrots covering the hunks of meat. Not your ordinary stew, but also quite good.
From the list of pastas I ordered the Penne al Funghetto, which had eggplant and tomatoes tossed with the tubular noodles with melted mozzarella on top. The pulpy tomato sauce was the star of this one.
We finished with a slice of house-made Tiramisu and reminisced how about how 15 years or so ago just about everyone had tiramisu on their dessert menus. Now it’s almost impossible to find, even rarer is to find one this good.
On a lunch visit my guest and I had the Antipasto della Casa Maestro, an assortment of samplings from a table set up at the back of the restaurant, a concept that Spagnolo adapted from his other restaurants. (Though in this small space it seems to take up precious real estate that could be used for a couple of more seats, just saying.)
The platter had plenty of salumi, peppers, eggplant, olives and bruschetta.
We were almost too full to eat our Capricciosa Pizza. Almost. There were copious amounts of ham, artichoke hearts, mushrooms and mozzarella on a delicately thin crust slathered with just the right touch of red sauce. Pizzas are cooked in the bright red oven that was added to the space and can be seen from the dining area.
That area, as I mentioned, is small. Best seating seems to be at the bar next to the doors that open to the avenue.
When he announced the restaurant, Spagnolo said that he and his partner had plans to produce a concept that might be franchiseable. Frankly, I don’t see anything here that would lend itself to mass reproduction, but I certainly support the efforts to take this style of authentically delicious Campania cuisine to the masses.
Maestro Cucina Napoletana is at 528 Park Avenue S., Winter Park. It is open for lunch and dinner daily daily. The phone number is 407-335-4548.