The former Winn-Dixie supermarket at the corner of Bumby Avenue and Colonial Drive is transitioning to a multi-ethnic market. Right next door to that building, at the beginning of the strip of businesses that includes Lam’s Chinese, a restaurant that has been around for a mind-scratchingly long time, is a small cafe that has held numerous occupants, most of them Italian and pizza centric. Petey’s, I believe, was the most recent.
Now it has done a little bit of transitioning itself and is now called Fusion Cafe, offering both Italian and Latin American cuisine.
We’ve been over this before, but let’s review. A restaurant is not fusion simply because it offers two or more cuisines or styles under one roof. A menu that has basic Italian dishes on one side and traditional Latin foods on the other, as is the case here, is not fusion. True fusion might offer, for example, a calzone stuffed with, say, ropa vieja. (My guess is that a Latin menu was the real goal, but the space came with a pizza oven, so… Just a theory.)
So despite its name, Fusion Cafe is not a fusion cafe.
That said, it’s a pleasant little restaurant that serves both cuisines ably, and, in the case of a daily special, did manage to combine Italian and Latin American into one offering.
That was a combo of minestrone soup and grilled pork chop served with rice, a salad of undressed lettuce, onions and tomato slices and two small fingers of fried yucca. The soup was unlike any minestrone I’d had, but minestrone is one of those soups open to myriad variations.
This one was more like a pasta e fagioli but without the pasta. There were plenty of big, meaty beans and also nice chunks of eggplant in the tomatoey broth. A couple of overly garlicked garlic rolls accompanied — your guess is as good as mine as to whether they were meant to represent Italy or one of the Island nations.
The pork chop was impressively big — I should mention that all of this was offered for $7.99 — and was grilled just so to retain some tenderness. This was the pick-up-and-gnaw type of pork chop I remember from my youth.
Neither the salad nor the rice had any kind of dressing or sauce, which seemed odd. There was a thimbleful of green mojo, I honestly don’t know what it was intended for: the pork, the yucca or the salad. I tried it on all three.
The young woman who was running the dining room by herself was pleasant and welcoming. Maybe with all that it has going for it Fusion Cafe will outlast its predecessors.
Fusion Cafe is at 2425 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner daily. The phone number is 407-601-6929.