(Sung to the tune of “Liza with a Z”)
It’s Grato with a G not Prato with a P ‘cause Prato with a P goes prah not grah...
There’s bound to be confusion for people strolling along Park Avenue starting at Aloma Avenue and heading north past Morse Boulevard. “Didn’t we just see this restaurant a few blocks ago?” Besides the similar name, both are Italian. But comparability must end there.
Grato is a second location for a Lake Mary restaurant. It took over the small space on lower Park that most recently was Antonio’s House of Pizza, Antonio’s Trattoria & Wine Bar, and before that Maestro Cucina Napoletana. It was, fleetingly, Makis Place, a Brazilian sushi franchise, and I seem to remember a place called Sala Wine Bar. And going back further, it was home to Park Avenue Compact Discs, though I can tell you their selection of Liza Minnelli albums was lousy.
But, back to Grato...
It’s a pleasant enough experience, less manic than the P place up the street. A quiet thing, if you will. If there was anything on the menu that could “ring them bells,” I didn’t have it.
But I enjoyed what I had, especially the frito misto, which had calamari rings and squidlets along with shrimp and assorted vegetables, including broccoli, lightly coated in batter and deftly deep fried, served with a creamy dipping sauce.
My companion had the linguine and clams, which had chopped meat as well as clams in the shell, tossed with al dente noodles and a wine sauce accented with parmesan cheese.
I selected the chicken marsala, a generous portion of pounded breasts in a glazy sauce of wine and mushrooms sitting atop rosemary roasted potatoes and Brussels sprouts.
At the beginning of our visit, our server delivered a basket of bread that included wedges of what I assume are used to form the base of Grato’s pizzas. Nice crusts; I think I’ll try a pie next time.
The compact space features a small bar just inside the door and booths and tables covered with black cloths and set with napkins. There are a couple of outside tables on the sidewalk out front.
The staff were all welcoming and thanked us for coming, which made the experience all the more pleasant.