Greek To Go

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Greektogo exterior

A restaurant with a name like Greek To Go should be uniquely suited to serving during these times of takeout and delivery. That’s what initially attracted me to the little Maitland eatery recently.

And I was drawn in by the menu of Mediterranean specialties like moussaka, falafel and of course Philly cheesesteak. Hmmm, OK.

I was also delighted that the restaurant had a user-friendly ordering portal in its website. (The link is only on the front page so if you go right to the menu link you’ll miss the online ordering link.)

And it also allows ine to order in advance, add a tip and pay for the whole shebang right there. (Shebang is a Greek word, right?) I’ll often order for a pickup time later, but since was driving from downtown Orlando, I accepted the quoted time of 20 minutes for an immediate fetch and pulled into the small parking lot just 30 minutes after the order went through. Twenty minutes after that I left with my food. Oh well.

V.L.C. Vegan Eatery

Written by Scott Joseph on .

VLC exterior

Have you heard about Dryuary? It’s where people pledge to go alcohol free – or stay dry – for the month of January. I’m sure that January was selected because it’s after the holidays when so many people tend to overindulge, but personally I think February would be a better choice because, you know, it’s shorter.

Now some people are pushing Veganuary, which means to follow a vegan diet for the first month of the year. Is there a meatless equivalent to dry? Vegged, maybe?

Anyway, if you’re among the carnivorous community attempting to eat a more plant-based diet, whether for a month or just a day, you might want to check out V.L.C. Vegan Eatery, a small restaurant on the east side of Orlando that recently celebrated its first anniversary.

Kabooki Sushi

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Kabooki exterior

Kabooki Sushi and its owner, Henry Moso, seem to have done just fine over the past year. First, a second location of the popular restaurant opened in Bayhill Plaza in the Restaurant Row district. Then Moso was named a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation’s Rising Star Chef of the Year Award. And then, Kabooki’s original location, in an odd spot on Colonial Drive near Maguire Boulevard, was renovated and enlarged.

Unfortunately, Moso did not advance to the Beard Award’s finals – and the awards ended up being cancelled altogether anyway. And since the Rising Star award is for chefs under 30, Moso has now aged out.

But he will undoubtedly have more awards in his future – Kabooki has already won a platinum Foodster Award for Best Sushi.

Meatball Stoppe

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Stoppe ext

This is the first time I’ve reviewed the Meatball Stoppe. I did, however, review a place called the Meatball Shoppe when it first opened nearly six years ago in, not so coincidentally, the same location.

They are, of course, the same business owned by the same people, Isabella and Jeff Morgia, the whole time. What happened, I’m guessing, is that someone else who owned the rights to the name Meatball Shoppe found out about the new Orlando restaurant and had a lawyer send one of those cheery little letters telling the Morgias to stop. So Stoppe they did.

Over the years, the restaurant has gotten more appreciated attention, including being featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, though it really isn’t any of those.

One thing seems to have changed since my review in January 2015: The original assemblage concept has been eased a bit. You no longer have to pick one from column A and one from column B. But the quality of the food has remained the same, which is quite good.

La Campana Mexican Restaurant

Written by Scott Joseph on .

LaCampana ext

I don’t know why – maybe it’s the years I spent in the Southwest prior to moving to Orlando – but I crave Mexican or Tex-Mex food this time of year. So I figured I’d indulge myself by visiting La Campana Mexican Restaurant, which opened on Lee Road a year and a half ago.

And it all would have been first rate if not for the chicharrones in guacamole. But I’ll come back to that in a moment.

Tornatore's Italian Market

Written by Scott Joseph on .

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The long-anticipated Italian market next door to Tornatore’s Cafe & Pizzeria quietly opened Wednesday with an array of goods from the restaurant and products both imported and from local vendors.

Owner Denny Tornatore was overseeing the market Wednesday night and pointing out favorite items on hand to a few shoppers.

The space is deceptively small – from the outside you might think there couldn’t be much stock. But every available square foot is occupied by shelves and display cases, and there’s a wall of reach-in coolers chockfull with fresh pastas, deli items and foods prepared by Tornatore’s executive chef, Jason Wolfe.

P's VietMí Café

Written by Scott Joseph on .

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Maybe it’s just me, but when I see a place called P’s VietMí Café I have questions. First, who or what is P? And what is VietMí? The café part I was able to figure out on my own.

But the other two questions remain a mystery. A young man who answered the phone at the south Orlando restaurant, which opened earlier this year, seemed perplexed that I would even ask such questions, as though no one had ever inquired before. P? It’s just the name of the restaurant. Nope, not someone’s initial; it’s just P’s.

As for my other Q, it’s called VietMí because it’s a Vietnamese restaurant. I could almost here the silent “duh!” in his response.

The Strand

Written by Scott Joseph on .

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The Strand, the small cafe in the Mills 50 district, is approaching its seventh anniversary, long enough for most people to forget that it is in the space that for many years was Chuck’s Diner. So I thought it might be time to stop by and see how it’s doing.

I found it looking warm and inviting on a midweek evening, shaded lights giving a soft glow to the tables with formica tops and metal banding, the sort of table that was in my family’s kitchen when I was growing up. More eclectic work lights hang over an L-shaped bar that leads to the in-full-view kitchen.

KCuvée aims to elevate the wine-tasting experience

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Cuvee tables

KCuvée is aiming to elevate the wine tasting experience in Central Florida.

KCuvée is a wine education and consulting company established by Katie Bean and Carolina Marin (their first initials are the K and the C of KCuvée). Their tasting classes differ from others in that they’re not social gatherings disguised as wine tastings – the two are serious about providing an educational experience.

Which is not to say they don’t have fun doing it. The two young women are amiable and take a good-humored approach to the topic at hand. But they’re determined that even well-seasoned wine lovers leave one of their classes with some new knowledge.

Orlando Classic: Cecil's Texas-Style Barbecue

Written by Scott Joseph on .

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I first wrote about Cecil’s Texas-Style Barbecue in 1992, the year that it opened on South Orange Avenue. It was in my weekly Chow Hound column in the Orlando Sentinel and I included it in a roundup of new barbecue joints that had recently opened.

I also mentioned Ream & Co. in Bayhill Plaza; Buz-moz Barbeque & Grill in Apopka; and Lazy Pig BBQ and Tavern just a few blocks south of Cecil’s. I also noted in the same column that there was a new College Park location for Carolina BBQ, a popular Eastern North Carolina barbecue restaurant on Curry Ford Road, and a second location on Primrose Drive for B’s Bar-B-Que Diner, which was near the corner of Mills Avenue and Nebraska Street.

You may have noticed that all of those restaurants have closed – B’s original spot has been a vacant lot for years, though the last time I looked its sign was still there. Heck, even the Chow Hound is gone. (Cecil’s also opened a second location in the Casselberry area that closed in late ’99.)