Antonio’s in Maitland, the two-story Italian venue, has always offered two distinct dining experiences – a casual cafe and market on the ground floor and an upscale ristorante above.
It continues to offer separate experiences in today’s restrictive dining atmosphere. The cafe is promoting its takeout menu while the upstairs dining room is open to limited-capacity dining in.
The two almost act as separate businesses: visit the parent website and you’ll be asked to choose between the two venues. The cafe, available for takeout only, has an online ordering form but the upstairs restaurant does not. After looking over both menus, I really wanted to order my takeout from the upstairs restaurant, and I was delighted to learn when I called that that would be just fine and that my order could be taken over the phone.
Side note: Antonio’s is participating in Magical Dining and even though its listing on Visit Orlando’s official website says the special menu is available only only for dine in, the young man who answered the phone told me it could be gotten for takeout.
But I preferred to order a la carte. I selected the stuffed artichokes for an appetizer and ordered entrees of veal marsala and pappardelle bolognese. I requested curbside pickup but was told that while the cafe downstairs was staffed with people who could bring the food out, the restaurant was not, and it may be necessary to come inside to pick it up. I did ask the fellow to take my credit card info and add the gratuity, which he gladly did. Then he told me that when I arrived I should call the number and if someone was available to bring the food out, they would do so.
Which is exactly what happened. (Though the young masked man wanted me to sign a credit slip, which I declined, saying that I had already authorized the full amount over the phone.)
The food, from executive chef Patrick Tramontana, was excellent, as always, especially the appetizer, which featured two long-stemmed Italian artichokes filled with goat cheese and wrapped in crispy prosciutto, served on peppery arugula.
The veal dish featured tenderloin medallions, pounded thin, and sautéed with mushrooms in marsala wine, creating a thick and rich glaze. The meat was accompanied by mashed potatoes and green beans and sliced carrots.
The pappardelle was my favorite. The long ribbons were perfectly al dente and the sauce was meaty and thick. The order included some bread but I found it extraneous.
By my estimation, Antonio’s is 30 years old this year, easily qualifying as one of Central Florida’s Classics. Although it still says La Fiamma on the sign out front, those words seemed to have been deleted from all online references. So call it Antonio’s Maitland or simply Antonio’s.
Though “simply” doesn’t quite do it justice.
Antonio’s is at 611 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland. It is open for lunch and dinner daily. The phone number 407-645-1039.