OK, this is going to get a little confusing, so stay with me.
There’s a new business occupying the space in downtown Orlando that most recently was the food hall Market On Magnolia and before that Frank ’n Steins, which opened in 2011. Taking a cue from its location at the intersection of Magnolia Avenue and Church Street, the new place is called The Corner Pizza Bar. It is owned by Diana and Alejandro Ranalli, who also own a restaurant called Italian House on Crystal Lake Drive just north of Curry Ford Road in a former Pizza Hut hut.
The Ranallis bought Italian House in 2019 after selling Ragazzi’s on Edgewater Drive in College Park. What’s confusing to me – and I’ll admit to facile befuddlement these days – is that the website for the Italian House states that it has been “serving Orlando since 1989.”
But in May of 2001, I reviewed a restaurant with the same address as Italian House called Cherazi’s. It may still have been a Pizza Hut before Cherazi’s because I mentioned in the review that I had once walked in while it was a PH and found it so unkempt and unclean-looking that I turned around and left. And in between Cherazi’s and Italian House, the restaurant was known as Italian Pie and Pasta House.
(Property records, by the way, would suggest the hut was constructed in 1971.)
So what does all this mean? I was hoping you could tell me. At the very least, you can take the “serving since...” with a grain of salt, or in this case sale.
But I left you waiting on the corner, so let’s go back there.
When it was Market On Magnolia, the space was configured with a bar with many beer taps on one end of the room and outcroppings around the perimeter for the three or four food vendors who subcontracted to sell there. In the center were high-top tables for customers to sit at to eat and drink.
The only thing that has changed about the place is that now there is only one food vendor, though the spaces where the others worked are still there.
My guest and I were greeted and seated by a laconic fellow who turned out to also be our server; he did not change his mood with the new role. Noticing the 40 or so beer taps, I asked for some guidance. But he said he did not know anything about beer and stated with what something that inexplicably sounded like pride that he was a Coors Light man.
For an appetizer, we ordered the Meatballs/Sausage starter without reading the fine print that it was meatballs OR sausage. We got sausage, which was served in a nice and pulpy marinara.
My companion ordered the Hot Sicilian (it’s a sub, not a person), an ample accumulation of ham, salami, pepperoni and slightly melted provolone with tomatoes (hold the onion, please) on a fresh and crusty hoagie roll. Had it been served with some Italian dressing to liven it up it would have been a contender for a best sandwich award (vote here).
I wanted pizza but didn’t want a whole pie, so I requested a slice with the toppings of the Supreme pizza: pepperoni, onions, mushrooms, green peppers, black olives along with mozzarella and tomato sauce. The supreme was also supposed to have sausage but if any was there it was hidden under the other ingredients. Yes, the toppings were generous, but for the most part they were also raw. It seemed as though the onions, peppers, olives and mushrooms were tossed on after a slice of cheese had been heated. Too bad because the crispy crust was good.
The dominant element of the decor is whatever happens to be playing on the numerous large screen tvs hanging about. Other than that, there are white subway tile walls, high ceilings and a pizza oven and workspace that takes up a good chunk of the room.
I’d like to say we were warmly thanked for our business but that was not the case.
The Corner Pizza Bar is at 150 S. Magnolia Ave., Orlando (map). It is open for lunch and dinner daily. The phone number is 407-203-4312.