I hadn’t been to Lido’s Italian in years. Lots of years. Even though I pass the little eatery on South Orange Avenue dozens of times each week, it rarely comes to mind when I’m thinking of a place to dine. So I don’t know what popped it into my head when I was looking for a place nearby to meet a friend. “Let’s go to Lido’s,” I said.
Turns out that little has changed since the last time I was inside the place (14 years, by my calculation), including the food, which is simple, basic Italian-American fare that is skillfully prepared.
The menu is very straightforward, not only in terms of selections but also in its almost complete lack of descriptions. There’s little on the bill of fare that screams, “Choose me.” Without a whole lot of come-ons from the menu, my friend and I asked the server what the most popular item was. Stuffed eggplant, she responded without hesitation. My friend grabbed that one. And second most popular? Chicken parmigiana. Mine, I said.
My friend had the serviceable house salad that is included with lunch entrees, but I opted for a cup of pasta e fagioli. It was not the best example of the bean and noodle soup, but there wasn’t anything left in the cup when the entree were delivered.
It was easy to see why the eggplant is so popular. It featured two eggplant slices, dipped in egg and sauteed, and rolled up with creamy ricotta cheese inside. The two servings
were topped with a tangy marinara and sprinkled with parmesan cheese.
Almost as good (close, but not quite) was my chicken parmigiana, which had a sauteed breast with a light breading topped with the same marinara and melted mozzarella cheese. It was served with a side of angel hair pasta and more the the yummy sauce.
Certainly nothing much has changed with Lido’s interior, although if memory serves (and let’s face it, that’s getting iffier), I seem to remember the ceiling was a patchwork of lattice and fake grapevines. Now just a few plants hang from the dropped ceiling tiles, although a garland of grapevines decorates one of the walls. Tables still sport the red and white checkered vinyl tablecloths that used to be the stereotypical hallmark of Italian restaurants. There are, however, no chianti bottles with melted candle wax.
This is not an elegant restaurant, but it does what it does well. And it certainly withstands the test of time. I’ll check back in another 14 years.
Lido’s Italian is at 2509 S. Orange Ave. (just north of Michigan Street), Orlando. They’re open for lunch Monday through Friday and dinner Monday through Saturday. There is no Web site (hello, Lido’s? The 21st century is calling). The phone number is 407-423-8933.