The long-anticipated Italian market next door to Tornatore’s Cafe & Pizzeria quietly opened Wednesday with an array of goods from the restaurant and products both imported and from local vendors.
Owner Denny Tornatore was overseeing the market Wednesday night and pointing out favorite items on hand to a few shoppers.
The space is deceptively small – from the outside you might think there couldn’t be much stock. But every available square foot is occupied by shelves and display cases, and there’s a wall of reach-in coolers chockfull with fresh pastas, deli items and foods prepared by Tornatore’s executive chef, Jason Wolfe.
There are also breads, locally crafted gelato and desserts to go from pasty chef Ron James, who joined the Tornatore’s staff earlier this year when his award-winning bakery, Sugarbuzz, fell to the coronavirus.
Also on hand, Tornatore’s branded products, including extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegars.
The wall behind the service counter features a mural painted by a local artist Briana Vega (who also did a painting of the front of the market that looks like a black and white photograph).
I did a quick look-around Wednesday evening and grabbed a couple of Wolfe’s prepared dinners to try. There is a really varied selection, but I narrowed them down to veal parmesan and eggplant rollatini.
The foods are packaged in aluminum trays with clear plastic tops and labeled with instructions for heating at home. I followed the instructions and 45 minutes later I was eating food that tasted like it had been prepared by an experienced chef, because it had.
The veal had a breading that was well seasoned and surprisingly crisped. The eggplant, also breaded, was filled with cheese and served in a pulpy and thick tomato sauce that would have been wonderful on some fresh pasta if I’d thought to grab some of that, too. Next time.
Tornatore’s has been upping its game for the past few years and it’s improved exponentially – bucking the 2020 odds – with the acquisitions of Wolfe and James. The market is another game changer that will be a boon not just to College Park but to all of Orlando.
Tornatore’s Italian Market is at 3818 Edgewater Drive, Orlando (map). It is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday. The phone number is 407-440-4976. The restaurant’s website will eventually have a market section.