North Italia has taken over the space on Restaurant Row that has long been vacant after a fairly short residency by J. Alexander’s, a Hillstone-like restaurant that failed to make a go of it.
North Italia should do just fine there, if what I observed during my visit is any indication. The place was bustling and full with a largely young crowd enjoying the darkly moody atmosphere, finely crafted food and surprisingly good service.
I want to start with the latter because the quality of service has been a sore spot lately as so many restaurants are dealing with staffing shortages. There were service blips, to be sure, the sorts of things one expects from a new operation. What I found encouraging was how deftly those blips were dealt with and corrected. And I was even more impressed after finding that it was the first day on the job for our server. She showed that she had undergone proper training, and that is promising for the future of dining.
Entering Ten Ten Chinese Seafood & Grill, you might be forgiven for thinking you’ve wandered into a wedding banquet instead of a restaurant. All of the tables are big and round, seating eight, and are draped with gold-tinged fabrics. The chairs, too, are wrapped in the same fabric and tied with a bow at the back, the type of feature that would be a separate line item on a caterers checklist.
But no, it’s just the style of Chinese dining Ten Ten presents, and you’re welcome to sit at the large table even if there are only two of you. You could even sit across from each other and pass food via the lazy Susan in the center.
Ten Ten is a second location for a Sunrise, Fla., restaurant. The Orlando restaurant is on the west side, where so many of the authentic Chinese restaurants have settled but, for a change, it is not in the repurposed strip mall known as Orlando Chinatown.