F&D Woodfired Italian Kitchen

Written By Scott Joseph On July 27, 2023

F&D Woodfired Italian Kitchen Curry Ford exterior

F&D Woodfired Italian Kitchen on Curry Ford Road was the first of what is now three locations for the local restaurant group. It opened in 2018 in a building that over the past few decades has been home to numerous restaurants. Most of the previous tenants apparently faltered because the small space made it difficult to turn a profit. But F&D seemed to be making a pretty good go of it.

Then the developer, National Real Estate (which despite the name is locally owned by husband and wife team Giovanni Fernandez and Elise Sabatino) decided what that block really needed was a multistory, mixed-use building – developers gotta develop, right? – so F&D would have to move. It closed in April of last year.

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Written By Scott Joseph On July 20, 2023

Pigzza Orlando

I winced when I first heard that a restaurant planned for the Mills 50 District would be called Pigzza. Did anyone not? Back then, in May of 2021, the project was announced as a collaboration between the owners of Stasio’s, the Milk District Italian cafe and market, and Pig Floyd’s Urban Barbakoa. So it sorta, kinda made sense if there were to be a fusion of barbecue, pizza and Italian dishes.

In the end, Pig Floyd’s Thomas Ward is the sole owner of Pigzza, whose tagline is “an Italianish joint.” And with the barbecue connection still intact, you’d expect the menu to be filled with pulled pork pizzas and pastas aplenty. But this little Pigzza has none.

Well, it has some, but surprisingly few. Which ultimately is a good, astute even, choice. Subtle is almost always the better way to go.

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Wine 4 Oysters Dr. Phillips

Written By Scott Joseph On July 13, 2023

Wine 4 Oysters

Wine 4 Oysters Bar & Bites, the restaurant and raw bar from East Orlando, has opened its second location in Bay Hill Plaza on Turkey Lake Road in the Restaurant Row District. There are some differences between the two W4Os: the new location has a full liquor bar but a more compact menu, though the roster of oysters is still robust.

The biggest difference between the two is that the Bay Hill Plaza location shares a space with King Cajun Crawfish even though they are separately owned. But as Tatiana Golenkova, who owns the Wine 4 Oyster with her husband, Andrey Makhotin, told me, this sort of setup is becoming more common – think of it as a mini food hall – and has advantages such as being able to use each other for overflow seating. Also, customers can order from either restaurant’s menu despite where they happen to be seated.

But there’s plenty on Wine 4 Oysters’ menu to keep you satisfied.

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Written By Scott Joseph On July 6, 2023

Doshi sign

Doshi, the modern Korean restaurant that opened last year in Winter Park, has two distinctions: It was designated a Recommended restaurant in the second edition of Michelin Guide, a considerable honor for a first-year restaurant.

It also is the only restaurant to my knowledge in Central Florida to have electronically and remotely-controlled bidets in the restrooms. As distinctions go, the Michelin thing is much bigger. But I also have to wonder if the other thing has moved us into a brave new era.

The Michelin recognition is deserved. The restaurant, from brothers Jimmy Tung and Johnny Tung of the Bento Group, grew from of a ghost-kitchen operation called Doshibox that worked out of the Collab Kitchen on Curry Ford Road. Doshi occupies a small space in an outparcel in front of Nordstrom Rack at the intersection of Lee Road and Orlando Avenue in Winter Park. 

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Kavas Tacos + Tequila

Written By Scott Joseph On June 29, 2023

Kavas Tacos + Tequila at Pointe Orlando

The long-awaited Kavas Tacos + Tequila has finally opened at Pointe Orlando from the folks who brought you Taverna Opa, also at the Pointe, and Tapa Toro at Icon Park. With Kavas, they add Tex-Mex and Mexican street foods to their portfolio of Greek and Spanish cuisines.

The atmosphere at Kavas is lively, along the lines of Taverna Opa but without all the napkin tossing. And whereas Opa has belly dancing and Tapa Toro flamenco, Kavas has the occasional performance of a fire dancer.

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Smoke & Donuts

Written By Scott Joseph On June 22, 2023

Smoke and Donuts Orlando

Smoke & Donuts, the barbecue and oil-boiled dough specialty that started out as a food truck, finally made the move to the brick and mortar store they had been planning for a couple of years. I don’t know what took so long – it certainly wasn’t waiting for the flooring to go in. The space, which was previously occupied by a gourmet popcorn shop, looks sort of like an excavation site.

But the focus is the food, the duality of basic barbecue and gourmet donuts.

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Papa Sabz

Written By Scott Joseph On June 20, 2023

Papa Sabz interior

I love me a gyro, and Papa Sabz makes pretty good one. 

Papa Sabz is a quick serve restaurant in Casselberry, a nondescript storefront in an even nondescripter strip of businesses. But the inside is spacious – probably more room than they really need – and the staff was welcoming and friendly, even as the woman who took my order slightly corrected my pronunciation of gyro.

“I’ll have the lamb year-oh,” I said. “Ok, the lamb jī-roh, anything else?” she said. “No, just the year-oh, thanks,” I responded.

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Bar Italia

Written By Scott Joseph On June 15, 2023

Bar Italia restaurant in Winter Park Village

Bar Italia, the restaurant that now occupies the corner that once held Brio in Winter Park Village, comes to us from NCR Ventures – the initials stand for Next Cool Restaurants – an Ohio group now expanding to Florida. The Winter Park restaurant is only the third of the brand; the other two are in Ohio. Locations in Naples and Lakewood Ranch, Fla., are “coming soon.”

The company’s website says that it offers, “a collection of neighborhood local restaurants focused on world class food, upscale service, in a well designed space meant to create a dining experience.”

In terms of the new Bar Italia, they’re 0 for 3.

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Mr. Chuy Taqueria & Cantina

Written By Scott Joseph On June 13, 2023

mrchuy asada

I was headed to Lake Mary for a lunch meeting – different from a lunchmeating – and decided on Mr. Chuy Taqueria & Cantina on Lake Mary Boulevard.

Mr. Chuy – not to be confused with Chuy’s, the chain restaurant; no relation – occupies the space that previously was Grato, the Italian restaurant that had also opened a location on Park Avenue in Winter Park. Both Gratos (Grati?) are closed.

Mr. Chuy’s menu features the usual array of Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes, and most of the food is executed adequately.

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Z Asian

Written By Scott Joseph On June 8, 2023

zasian23 interior

When I attended the Michelin Award ceremony in Miami last month, I was surprised to see only one Orlando restaurant, Z Asian, serving food at the reception on the concourse of LoanDepot Park, where the event was held. Then again, seeing as how this was Miami’s gig – Orlando hosted last year at the Ritz-Carlton; they’ll be in Tampa next year – perhaps it was unusual to have even one Central Florida participant.

And the area was well represented by the staff of Z Asian and its owners, Hien Q. Pham and his wife and the restaurant’s chef Huong Nguyen, who operated a food station overlooking third base. Z Asian was invited because it is a Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand restaurant, two years in a row. Bib Gourmand, named for the Michelin tire mascot whose name is Bibendum, designates “good food at a good price.”

The next day, while driving back to Orlando, I was mulling over some choices to go for dinner with some friends that evening. I thought of Z Asian and said, “Why not?” I hadn’t been since the restaurant first opened in 2019, replacing Mai Bistro in the Mills 50 District. And as it turns out, the menu has changed quite a bit.


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