I finally made it back to Trattoria Toscana, and I’m glad I did. The food I had there recently was some of the best Italian cuisine I’ve had in town. All of it was absolutely delicious.
Trattoria Toscana, you may recall, is a newish little — and I mean little — cafe on the south end of Park Avenue. It’s the latest project of Armando Martorelli, who has been involved in numerous Italian restaurants and cafes over the years, including Bravissimo, Babbo (in the space where K
Restaurant currently resides), and most recently, Aroma coffee bar in Thornton Park. Each time Martorelli works some sort of magic to get the project going, then moves on to something else. With Toscana, he seems to be a bit more dedicated — even doing the cooking. I hope his peripateticism has subsided a bit and he will stay in one place a while, because Trattoria Toscana is a real winner.
My guest and I started with an appetizer of calamari alla Luciana, listed under the heading “antipasti per due.” Indeed it was enough for due and could easily have been a satisfying entree. It featured tender rings of squid and tentacled squidlets sauteed and served in in a broth fashioned of plum tomatoes. The calamari sat atop a hunk of bread that had absorbed some of the liquid, and so resembled one of the bread soups of Tuscany.
I also had a “small” serving of pasta e fagioli, a sizable bowl of white beans and al dente pasta in a hearty broth. Martorelli assembles the soup upon order — it doesn’t sit around in a warmer — and the freshness can be tasted.
For my entree I chose the vitello alla limone, thin scallopine sauteed with lemons and capers to create a buttery sauce. Served over sauteed spinach and topped with grilled lemon slices. The taste was rich and wonderful. My companion had pollo Sofia, chicken breast sauteed with pulpy tomatoes, topped with basil, and served on a bed of pasta. I liked my veal very much, but I liked my friend’s chicken even more.
For dessert there was wonderful tiramisu, lighter than most, and a fitting end to a hearty meal.
Trattoria Toscana occupies a small space that has been various restaurants and cafes over the years, none of whose names come to mind at the moment. The kitchen is in full view and in fact has the appearance of having been a short-order lunch counter at one time. Can’t say for certain that’s true. There are only a few tables in the front of the space, plus some on the sidewalk. This is a place for couples to dine — large groups would overflow.
For all its compactness, and the open kitchen, TT has a bit of elegance that befits food of this calibre. And the service is on the same level. Here’s hoping Trattoria Toscana — and Martorelli — have a long stay on the Avenue.
Trattoria Toscana is at 521 Park Ave. S., Winter Park. It is open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. The phone number is 407-644-0009. The restaurant does not have a Web site, but you can download the lunch menu here , and the dinner menu here .
Note: This review has been updated to correct the days of operation.