As coincidence would have it, I first reviewed Il Pescatore, the family homey Italian restaurant on Primrose Drive, exactly 20 years ago this week. And now that it has reached that milestone, it can be declared an Orlando Classic.
It was Marie and Stefano LaComarre who purchased what was Sorrento’s Italian and renamed it Il Pescatore, or the fisherman. It was never meant to be a seafood restaurant, and in fact seafood was never its forte. The name was merely an homage to Stefano’s childhood on the waters of his native Sicily.
(The LaComarre’s, of course, eventually sold Il Pescatore and opened Stefano’s Trattoria in Winter Springs, which they also sold and which still thrives today under the ownership of Alejandro Martinez. Lacomarre now cooks at his son’s Altamonte Springs restaurant, Nonno’s.)
Lacomarre’s influence is still seen on Il Pescatore’s menu today – I wonder how many menus in the area feature Tortellini di Stefano? But it reads, as it always has, as a stereotypical Italian American menu that you might find in any red-and-white checker-clothed trattoria. (It did, in fact, have such tablecloths in ’91 but they no longer drape the tables today.) But with an occasional surprise.
Like the appetizer of smelt, which I immediately added to my order list because how often do you get to have smelt?
I also the giro della Sicilia, a combination platter of baked entrees, and the veal marsala.
The smelt were a small school of lightly battered and deep fried fishies. A lemon was provided to squirt upon, and I assume a separate container of marinara was meant for dipping. (Whether or not it was so designated, dip I did.) I liked them, but I think they’d be best enjoyed right out of the fryer.
The combination of baked items included stuffed shells, manicotti, cannelloni and a meatball, all in a red sauce and topped with melted mozzarella. It was difficult to tell where the stuffed shells ended and the cannelloni started. Or was that the manicotti? But the tomato sauce was delicious, and I liked the cheese, both the melted stuff on top and the creamy stuff inside. The meatball would have benefitted from less filler.
The veal marsala was prepared just right. The tender scallops were drenched in a buttery wine sauce and topped with delightfully chewy mushrooms. The dinner included a fresh salad and a side of pasta.
Online ordering is not available and the phone process could have been smoother. When I stated that I wanted to prepay for the order over the phone, the young woman I was speaking with became a bit flustered and put me on hold. Soon, a man came on to tell me that they could not take payment over the phone because the credit card companies didn’t permit it. I didn’t argue that I had been giving my credit card number over the phone for nearly 10 months with no other pushback.
Pickup was inside the restaurant, which was fairly well attended, people sitting at the red-seated booths under fish netting and gewgaws strewn along a shelf.
Just the way it’s looked for the past 20 years.
Il Pescatore is at 651 N. Primrose Drive, Orlando (map). It is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. The phone number is 407-896-6763.