Casa Sorrento? Where the hell is Casa Sorrento? I had never heard of it. But there is was, listed as one of the participants in the now-passed Orlando Restaurant Week.
I took a look at the address: 1421 N. Orange Ave. That’s a stretch of road I know fairly well and travel often. How did I miss a knew restaurant? I must be slipping.
But it turns out Casa Sorrento is only sort of a new restaurant, despite the assertion on its Web site that it has been in operation since March of 2009. This is -- now was -- Wilfredo’s, the tiny Italian restaurant with Orange Avenue in the front and the railroad tracks in the back. Some may recall that until six or seven years ago, this was the location of Gargi’s before it moved to its location across the street on Lake Ivanhoe. Wilfredo’s was owned by Wilfren Giraldo, who had worked for Gargi’s and stayed on -- as the new owner -- when Gargi’s vacated.
The young woman who greeted me and my guest when I visited Casa Sorrento last week said that Giraldo simply retired, selling the business as-is to the new owners. Indeed, the menu is the same, and even the business cards at the front door still say Wilfredo’s.
Actually, things seem to have improved a bit since the last time I visited Wilfredo’s a few years ago. Even then, it seemed as though Giraldo was becoming weary of the restaurant business. I can’t say the place has been totally rejuvenated. It still has a weary demeanor in the atmosphere. Part of that is simply the constraints of the space, which is miniscule. The Web site lists four owners, a new chef and a manager. I wonder if they can all fit into the restaurant at the same time. OK, it isn’t quite that small, but it is rather teensy.
Still, that gives it a certain coziness, and the use of white tablecloths -- even at lunch -- adds a touch of class.
My guest and I started our lunch with appetizers of insalata caprese and bruschetta. Neither was extraordinary, but neither was unacceptable. The caprese was a single slice of mozzarella between two slices of tomato, plus a couple of large basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil. The bruschetta -- that’s singular -- featured basically the same ingredients except chopped and served atop a toast point.
For my entree I chose the eggplant parmesan, which had fresh slices of eggplant with a slather of marinara sauce and melted mozzarella cheese on top of a bed of fresh sauteed spinach. It was delicious.
But even as much as I liked the eggplant parmesan, I thought my friend’s chicken Francese was even better. The breast cutlet was coated with a light egg wash and sauteed in lemon, butter and wine with garlic and capers. The light jacket was so delightfully delicate and the flavors so brilliant that it was an absolute winner. Both entrees were accompanied by a side of pasta, mine with a red sauce and my companion’s with a sauce fashioned from the garlic, capers and butter.
Our server was warm and welcoming and maintained a proper professional demeanor.
I liked Wilfredo’s in its heyday. I’m hoping Casa Sorrento’s new owners can recapture quaint neighborhood feel it had. This could be the sort of place you think of when you want to enjoy a quiet, intimate dinner.
Casa Sorrento is at 1421 N. Orange Ave., Orlando. It is open for lunch Monday through Friday and dinner Monday through Saturday. The phone number is 407-228-0300. Here is a link to Casa Sorrento’s Web site.