When I first reviewed Lago, in early 2009, the Baldwin Park restaurant was still new. But the newness wasn’t the cause of what was overall a less than favorable review. The reason had more to do with personnel than with the food or ambience, both of which were actually rather enjoyable. But it was the dour hostess, manager and owner, all of whom seemed to silently communicate they would just as soon everyone leave, that prevented me from recommending it. Here’s a little free advice to anyone considering going into the restaurant business: if you’re not a people person, then you may want to find another profession.
But my most recent experience at Lago was completely different from that first encounter, from the gracious welcome at the front door to the friendly and efficient service throughout the meal.
The food on this most recent visit was perfectly acceptable. My guests and I started with the polpetta Napoletana, meatballs stuffed with ham, peas and mozzarella, and the zuppa di cozze, Prince Edward Island mussels in a white wine sauce seasoned with garlic. The two meatballs were generously sized, but I had one question for the server when he returned to ask how we liked them: Are these usually served chilled?
No, I was told. They’re cold, I replied. The server apologized and took just a beat longer than he should have to ask if we wanted another order. We did. He had them redone and this time they were perfect, especially with the zesty pomodoro sauce that accompanied them.
The mussels were good, too, an ample serving of yawning mollusks in a rich broth.
Chicken Genovese was one of the better entrees, a juicy breast stuffed with mozzarella and wrapped in prosciutto, finished in a cream sauce fashioned with sun-dried tomatoes.
The veal scaloppini featured thin medallions of meat in a lemony butter sauce with artichoke hearts and spinach. The mixed seafood grill had a piece of salmon, grilled shrimp and squid steaks, the latter being the best among them. The squid had a wonderful tender-firm texture. The fish and shrimp were also enjoyable.
For dessert there was a light and airy tiramisu and an assortment of cool sorbets.
Lago is a beautiful restaurant, an expansive room with high ceilings and sweeping booth backs and a view of the lake through large windows. There is an open kitchen, but the big room absorbs the sound. The lounge area is technically part of the same room but seems distinct. It’s really a gorgeous space and setting, and it has pained me that I have not been able to recommend in over the last 18 months. With the new attitude from the staff, I’m happy to reverse that standing.
Lago is at4979 New Broad St., Orlando. It is open for dinner Monday through Saturday. The phone number is 407-331-5246. Here’s a link to the Web site where you can see the menu.