Updated with information about Ono Poke below.
Chianti’s Pizza & Pasta, which opened at Seminole Towne Center in 2015, will take over the former Carmela’s of Brooklyn space in Longwood Village Shopping Center. Chianti’s president and CEO, Ian Schneider, said that construction is currently underway and he hopes to have the pizza ovens fired up late September or early October.
Carmela’s, which started out as an offshoot of Sbarro when it opened in 2005, closed its Longwood location about six months ago. Previously, it had closed its only other location, on Kirkman Road in Orlando, in 2011.
The new location for Chianti’s will have “an enhanced menu and wine list,” Schneider said. “It will be an upscale version of what’s in Sanford. (I reviewed the Sanford location almost exactly five years ago, on Aug. 10.)
Besides the Seminole Towne Center restaurant, Chianti’s has a presence at Sanford Airport in the Million Air terminal. That small cafe caters mainly to private pilots and travelers and to airline workers and trainees. It employees three workers. The Seminole Towne Center has 40 employees and the new restaurant will have a staff of “about 60,” he said.
In downtown Orlando, Le Pho, a Vietnamese fast-casual, is slated to take over that troubled space in the Plaza building that most recently was home to Spice Burgr. Before that it was Meltz, a grilled cheeser that lasted about as long as a hunk of cheddar in a microwave oven at full power.
Le Pho’s website is promising pho soups, vermicelli and banh mi subs for under $10.
Over on the other side of the Plaza, on Pine Street, where Red Mug Diner recently closed, there is still signage on part of the front windows announcing Ono Poke Shop’s imminent arrival. However, the Ono folks, who own a restaurant in South Orlando and are friends with the building’s owners, have decided not to proceed. So that sign saying the restaurant is available is accurate. I hear that a wing/sports bar chain has shown interest as has an Asian restaurant, but nothing has been signed so far. There is no “coming soon” notice on Ono’s website or Facebook page, and attempts to reach someone for comment were fruitless. Or pokeless. So we’ll just have to wait and see.