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Newsy Nuggets: Tornatore’s, Pannullo’s, Meatball Stoppe, Maryland Fried Chicken, Castle Irish Pub

Written By Scott Joseph On March 10, 2023

Tornatore subs

Starting today, Tornatore’s, the College Park Italian restaurant, is back in the business of serving lunch. The popular cafe had suspended its daytime operations in October during while the restaurant was under renovations. (Read about the redo here.) That followed an announcement last May that students under the age of 18 would no longer be allowed in the restaurant without an adult. It seemed that students from the nearby high school were, according to a post by the restaurant, “…continuously disturbing guests, disrespecting staff, tipping servers 1 cent, and causing general disorder[.]” It also stopped serving pizza by the slice.

The age restriction still applies, owner Denny Tornatore told me in a text message, and a small pie is the closest you can get to a slice. The menu also has an array of Italian entrees from executive chef Jason Wolfe and more lunch items like soup, salad and subs (Tornatore’s sub bread is pictured at top.)

Tornatore’s will serve lunch Wed. through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Kudos to another Italian restaurant, Pannullo’s on Park Avenue, which celebrated its 30th anniversary this week. In my Feb 12, 1993, Chow Hound column in the Orlando Sentinel, I wrote about the planned restaurant:

South Steel SJO March AD copy


On the avenue. Remember a few weeks ago when the Hound told you that a well-known Park Avenue pizza and pasta restaurant would close and soon would be replaced by a pizza and pasta restaurant? Well, you probably figured the well-known p & p restaurant in question was Sbarro. (You’re so clever.) The Winter Park Sbarro closed last week.

Now I can tell you about the replacement restaurant. Pannullo’s will be owned and operated by Richard Pannullo and Michael Schwartz. Pannullo was previously the chef at Orange Lake Country Club, and Schwartz was the food and beverage director there.

Pannullo also will be the chef at the new restaurant that bears his name.

Renovations are under way to move the front of the shop back from the street so a patio can be put in. The back of the restaurant will have a beer and wine bar. Schwartz told the Hound that he hopes to have the new restaurant open the first or second week in March.

What’s most notable is that the restaurant did indeed open when Schwartz said it would. The official date was Mar. 8. And he and Pannullo are still the owners, which is an accomplishment all on its own.

As long as we’re on an Italian roll (not the ciabatta kind), the Meatball Stoppe on Lake Underhill Road has announced a de-expansion. The restaurant, which opened eight years ago, had expanded its footprint to include a dining room. Now that space has been closed up and the Stoppe (it was originally Shoppe but was changed after another Shoppe challenged it) has gone back to having a service counter and just a few tables.

More noteworthy, Jeff Morgia, who owns the place with his wife, Isabella, said in a social media post that the undo was “[t]o better align with our current business model, successes, and our investor partners request to model our existing location to what future locations will be…”

So, I guess the real Newsy Nugget here is to look for future locations.

The Maryland Fried Chicken in Winter Garden is closing after 57 years. I’ve never been to that particular restaurant. In fact, I’ve only been to one MFC ever. It was on Curry Ford Road and whenever someone opened the front door, there was a recording of chickens clucking. It was creepy. Sort of like going to a restaurant called Soylent Green and hearing muffled screams from the kitchen when you walked in.

Charlotte Skipper of The Community Paper reports that Castle Irish Pub and Restaurant will take over the space at 2625 Edgewater Drive in College Park. That’s the (somewhat temporary) address of Thai Farm Kitchen and, before that, RusTeak, which vacated to move to Thornton Park. But before RusTeak, another Irish pub, Scruffy Murphy’s, was in residence. This address was also home to Gio’s, an Italian restaurant from the owners of Giovanni’s, and Adair’s, a Southern-inspired restaurant that lasted about as long as Thai Farm Kitchen. And that’s just going back to 2006.

Castle Irish Pub will be owned by husband and wife Shane and Katie Hoyne along with Shane’s brother . They’re looking at an August opening date. They’d do well to ask Richard Pannullo and Michael Schwartz for tips on hitting the target date.

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