Fiorenzo, the Hyatt Regency Orlando restaurant formerly known as Fiorenzo Italian Steakhouse, has emerged from its monthslong renovation. Even though it shortened its name, it is still Italian and you can still get a good steak.
But Italian steakhouse didn’t fit the restaurant’s new designation as an all-day restaurant. And there is a preconceived notion of what a steakhouse looks like.
And before the renovation, Fiorenzo lived up to that stereotype: it was dark and moody.
That has changed. The space has been brightened and opened up, including at the entrance, which used to be behind a wall hidden from the lobby but now is fully visible with a lobby bar. George Wong Design did the renovation.
Most of the flooring, which features shiny marble in a black and white design that gives a harlequin effect, remains. But the lighting fixtures are all new and lend a modern flair, not to mention brightening the space. The kitchen is still open, but there is a new area designed to serve guests at breakfast. The breakfast kitchen is just in front of where the side entrance used to be for Dux, the late and lamented fine dining restaurant from the hotel’s Peabody days. (There’s a holdover from those days when ducks splashed around the lobby fountain — duck is still not served on any of the restaurants menus.)
With the reopening of the restaurant, Jared Gross, who made the hotel’s Urban Tide seafood restaurant a destination for locals, has taken the role of chef de cuisine at Fiorenzo. There wasn’t a thing wrong with the food here before, but with Gross’s direction I expect it to soar.
I was invited to attend a media dinner to showcase the redesigned space and show off the dinner menu. (Note that the food was served family style on platters for us to sample, and in some cases we were served smaller portions, so photos may not be fully representative.)
Our appetizers included Fried Calamari with a deft drizzle of aged balsamic and a cherry pepper remoulade for dipping. The tender rings and squidlets wore light jackets and were fried to a just-right crispness.
Nona’s Meatballs was a bocci sized orb in a puddle of spicy marinara with some buffalo mozzarella, grated parmesan and shredded basil.
Fiorenzo’s Market Salad was a cool blend of greens with some more of that creamy mozzarella and a bit of grilled onions.
We sampled a trio of pasta dishes. I loved the charred Brussels sprouts that topped the Sundried Tomato Alfredo, a vegetarian option that also included wild mushrooms and broccolini tossed with mafaldine pasta.
Short Rib Bolognese had hunks of the meat with fat bucatini noodles sprinkled with pecorino.
Frutti di Mare had clams, crab meat and firm rock shrimp tinged with a touch of sambuca and served over perfectly al dente pappardelle.
Scallop Agrodolce featured plump and tender-firm scallops with the traditional “sweet and sour” agrodolce, here getting a bit of pique from Fresno chili.
Harking from the Italian Steakhouse days, the Prime Bone-in Ribeye, served sliced for us to try, had a beautiful charred crust and just-right red juiciness inside.
Spinach, broccolini, mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus were also passed. You know, in case we were still a bit hungry.
For dessert, a sampling from the pastry kitchen, including mini tiramisus, gold-flecked chocolate cake and fruit tarts.
I like how the notion of hotel restaurants has evolved over the years. Once only concerned with feeding weary guests who weren’t necessarily concerned with quality as much as convenience, they now actively attract the local trade. That’s smart, and it means so many more options for fine dining. Which is what Fiorenzo provides.
Fiorenzo is at the Hyatt Regency Orlando, 9801 International Drive. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Valet parking is validated for restaurant patrons. The phone number is 407-345-4570.