For some reason the name Saporito sounds like it would be Japanese takeout place.
But, no, it’s an Italian restaurant, and a very pleasant one at that.
Or should I say a tasty one, for tasty is the translation of Saporito.
Remember the Slow Food Movement? It was buzzphrase about a dozen years ago. I wrote about it becoming a trend in Central Florida in 2007, though its origins can be traced back to 1986. In Italy, to be exact.
There is still a Slow Food organization and an Orlando convivium, or chapter, though the last entry on its Facebook page was in 2016. My guess is that people embraced the farm-to-table as their preferred buzzphrase.
But Saporito proudly embraces the Slow Food philosophy. And it’s not like we’re comparing organic apples to locally-grown oranges. A well-crafted red sauce by any other name would taste as luscious.
Of all the restaurants that have occupied the space at the corner of Washington Street and Hyer Avenue in downtown’s Thornton Park, Felipe Rodriguez Tequila House + Kitchen feels the most permanent.
That may be because for the first time the main dining part of the restaurant has an actual hard roof. Before that it had an elaborate tent-like structure to keep out the elements, and before that it had nothing. The elements were everywhere.
But there’s more to the commitment of a real roof and all the other cosmetic and structural redesigns inside. It shows a dedication to this concept. Even more, the people involved in the restaurant seem to understand that the food needs to be more than an afterthought. On my two visits to the restaurant, I was surprised to find the food as good as it was.
I don’t mean for that to be a backhanded compliment. But let’s face it: Any place in downtown Orlando that calls itself a tequila house isn’t a place you’d expect to spend much time on food. Fortunately, that’s not the case here.
I had originally gone to the west side of town for a completely non-eating reason — it happens every now and then — but when I saw Negril Jamaican Restaurant I immediately changed course.
Negril is a fast-casual restaurant, more casual than it is fast and it’s pretty fast: most of the food is already prepared and in a steam table set behind glass.
The menu has Oxtail, Brown Stews, Jerked dishes and Jamaican Fried Chicken. But every menu listing for a curried dish — available in goat, chicken and shrimp — included the line “Best Curry in Town.” How could I not go with that?