I sometimes feel that navigating all the restaurants with Antonio in their names is like playing a pizza version of Where’s Waldo. By my count, there’s a pizzaiolo’s dozen of eateries named Antonio, and that doesn’t count the one’s named Anthony’s.
Add now to the list Antonio’s House of Pizza, the new, though not original name for the business that was Maestro Cucina Napoletana. Maestro, you may recall, was a project of longtime area restaurateur Rosario Spagnolo (Terramia) and business parther Antonio Martino. (Maybe there’s a law that all pizzeria must have an Antonio involved.) Maestro opened in late 2016; Spagnolo sold it a year and a half later because he did not see a way to scale the business and open others, which was his original plan.
And yes, the new owner is named Antonio. Well, he goes by Anthony. Zeka is his last name, and he owns the Park Avenue restaurant with his wife, Sandra Valencia. (The two of them are responsible for two other pizzerias Antonio’s.)
Little has changed about the interior, though tables now have red and white checkered cloths. The old behemoth pizza oven, which still has Maestro emblazoned in white across the bright red exterior, remains in in the kitchen in full view from the small dining area.
The pizzas that come out of it are a bit different, however.
The current crust is crispier and cracks if you try to pick it up and fold it. It’s not wrong, it’s just another way of doing pizza crust. Toppings on both slices I tried, a barebones cheese and one called the Extravaganza, were ample. The cheese was evenly spread over a light layer of sauce.
The Extravaganza had lots of toppings, too. What toppings would those be? you ask. I find that a legitimate question and one I posed to my server. Who had no idea. I’m still learning the pizzas, she said. Why she would be allowed to wait on tables without a complete knowledge of the menu is baffling to me.
Let’s all learn together. The Extravaganza had slices of Italian sausage, pepperoni and meatballs along with hefty chunks of onions, green peppers and mushrooms. There was a lot there for the $3.99 fee.
My guest and I also shared an order of the Side Meatballs, which are listed under the Appetizers because there is no Sides category on the menu. Good balls of meat they were, densely formed and well seasoned, bathed in a rich red marinara.
The sauce for the Spaghetti Bolognese startled me at first bite. It was sweeter than most Bologneses (Bolognesi?). But the more I tasted it the more I liked it, and it seemed that the sweet notes were coming from basil. It isn’t called sweet basil for nothing. The texture was good and thick, with lots of meat to twirl with the strands of spaghetti.
You already know how I feel about the level of training given the serving staff so there’s no reason to flog that point.
Although the pizza doesn’t match my preferences, I would be happy to return for the meatballs and Bolognese. As long as I don’t confuse the name with some other place.
Antonio’s House of Pizza is at 528 S. ParkAve., Winter Park. It is open for lunch and dinner daily. The phone number is 407-636-7222.