The new Ravenous Pig is quite different from the old Ravenous Pig. Not better, not worse, just different.
The new Pig is in the old Cask & Larder spot. (The new restaurant in the old Pig place is Reel Fish Coastal Kitchen & Bar; I’ll have a review soon.)
Ravenous Pig, of course, is the popular restaurant from husband and wife team James and Julie Petrakis. When it first opened at 1234 N. Orange Ave., in late 2007, it became an instant hit. The Petrakises earned, deservedly, widespread recognition, including multiple nominations for the James Beard Award’s Best Chef, South, for which they were jointly nominated.
The Pig took off, if not in actual flight then in terms of company growth. Cask & Larder became a second brand. Swine & Sons offered charcuterie and other comestibles in a grab and go format next to the C&L building. This summer, another porcine proximation, the Polite Pig, will open at Disney Springs. (The Petrakises are also consulting partners at DoveCote, in downtown Orlando.)
But back to RavPig. The reason we’re here is that Cask & Larder moved to the airport. So the Pig moved into the, um, emptied Larder.
So the look is different. There’s more space here, especially in the bar area, but I sort of liked the coziness of the original.
The menu is different, too, even in terms of its layout and design. But also in its content. I spotted old favorites: steak frites and shrimp & grits among them. But I took a double take at the entry now called The Tacos. The taco entry on the first menu was a go-to choice for many regulars. But those were made with lobster meat. Today they’re stuffed with shrimp. Maybe this changed before the move. Maybe I missed it. But it certainly caught my eye this time.
I didn’t order them. Instead, my companion and I started with the Roasted Oyster, which had the half-shelled bivalves topped with bread crumbs blended with scallions and doused in popcorn butter. And for good measure, each oyster was topped with a popped kernel of corn.
For the main course, my friend selected the Wagyu Raviolo, a large pasta pillow stuffed with shank meat, wonderfully fatty, with a melange of morel mushroom, fermented turnips and spring onions, surrounded by a moat of foamy nettle emulsion. Just the sort of thing that earns award nominations.
My Pepper Tagliatelle had the spicy noodles tossed with blue crab meat, licoricy fennel and a sweet and sour agrodolce that featured spring onions. Quite filling.
Service is not different. It’s still the same high quality that we’ve come to expect from a Petrakis production.
It’s possible that this is where Ravenous Pig should have been all along. Currently, it does seem like if feels comfortable in its new, um, sty. But perhaps with time it will feel more natural, a pigpen to call home.
The Ravenous Pig is at 565 W. Faribanks Ave., Winter Park. It’s open for lunch and dinner daily (but not “always open” as it says on its Facebook page). The phone number is 407-628-2333.