Although the name sounds like it might be the name of a far off land, Itar is actually a portmanteaux of Italy and Argentina, the two cuisines represented on the menu. It also sounds a little like Ishtar, the infamous movie that starred Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty. But that was a bomb; Itar is a hit.
I first told you that Itar Bistro Market was being planned for a space in Metro West’s Veranda Park almost exactly two years ago, in July of 12014. But it didn’t actually open until August of last year.
Itar is the project of Mariana Moya, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu who serves as the chef. Quite ably, I might add. Everything that my companion and I sampled on a recent visit was top notch, both in quality of ingredients and their preparation.
We started with an appetizer of Grilled Octopus, which Moya imports from Spain (Maybe the name should be Spitar?). It’s not always on the menu because of the availability, but if it’s offered when you go, grab it. If I’ve had a better serving of octopus, I can’t recall it. The tender tentacles had just a perfect char on the outside, and the smoky flavor complemented the sweet meat nicely.
We also had the Marido & Mujer, a serving of a traditional sausage, made with a blend of beef and pork, and an Argentine blood sausage. The name means “husband and woman”; I’ll let you decide which is which. The traditional sausage had a nice, firm texture and mild flavors. The black sausage was characteristically mushier and had sharper flavors. They were served with a wedge of griddled polenta that didn’t add much to the enjoyment.
For an entree, my friend chose the Churrasco, a marinated and grilled skirt steak that was impossibly tender. He sprang for an extra two bucks for a fried egg to top the steak, which added some nice unctuousness with the yolk. And a side dish of Brussels Sprouts sauteed with lots of bacon bits was wonderful.
If there had to be one thing that didn’t fully thrill it would be the Egg Pappardelle alla Bolognese. The pasta was nicely produced and cooked al dente, but the sauce was a bit dry. Good flavors, but not enough sauce to coat the wide noodles.
Our server was quite good (though really one should learn the Spanish names of the dishes). And others on the staff were just as warm and gracious. Seating is available inside and on a patio.
As the name implies, Itar is also a market, though that part of the business doesn’t seem to be as well thought out as the bistro side. Still, you might be able to find some interesting imported canned goods on the few shelves, and there are almost certainly some worthwhile prepared items in the display cases to take home.
Itar Bistro Market is at 7065 Westpointe Blvd., Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. The phone number is 407-757-0553.