At Juliana’s Orlando, head chef Carl Cherkaoui adds a dash of detail to his Italian cuisine with his thorough mind for sauces, spices, and herbs—a passion he developed while studying the culinary arts in Morocco, France, and Germany. His globally informed flavors grace house specialties such as the crabmeat-crusted grouper fillet and the pan-roasted pork loin in a balsamic glaze. And in the eatery’s main dining room, he and his waitstaff encourage diners to sip Italian and Californian wines amid the glow of a fireplace that someday hopes to be promoted to oven.
When Paul Russo moved from New York to Florida, he gained year-round beautiful weather. On the other hand, he lost access to his favorite food, New York?style pizza. So, he opened a new pizza joint to celebrate his home town and beloved food. He called it NYPD Pizza. His pies?discs of fresh dough topped with a housemade marinara sauce?thrilled the community, and have continued to win awards. Most recently, the eatery was ranked the #1 pizza place in Orlando according to Trip Advisor. His restaurant even earned 24th place on the same site out of all the city's 2,882 restaurants, much to the chagrin of 2,858 restaurateurs who now wish that they, too, could just make pizza like a proper New Yorker.
Nick’s Italian Kitchen, one of Funky Monkey Wine Company's restaurants, serves tasty Italian cuisine from its location inside the Sanctuary condominiums. Italian dishes such as the chef’s daily risotto and bruschetta, roasted duck, and spaghetti and meatballs (made with Nick’s grandmother’s recipe) represent all 26 regions of Italy, and can be paired with selections from the lengthy wine list. The dining room has high ceilings and lots of free space, leaving ample room to nose a meatball over to your dining companions without bumping elbows with the next table.
After overseeing the kitchen at an oceanfront Hilton, Chef Jason Marty chose to dedicate his culinary prowess to Italian cuisine by donning a toque at Casa Sorrento. Although he still spends his nights hopping from stovetop to stovetop, he now blanches fresh manicotti and angel-hair pastas and sautés cutlets of veal or chicken over flaming piles of Food & Wine magazine. His cooks accessorize entrees with a number of authentic Mediterranean flavors—including tender buffalo mozzarella and capers—or glaze them with fresh marinara or cream sauce.
Many fathers leave their children with treasured heirlooms, a love of fishing, or a family business, but Paul Homel left his son with a neighborhood icon. Homel owned and operated local restaurants for nearly 40 years, naming his last establishment after his son, Brian, who had worked in his father's kitchens since he was a child. Today, Brian and his mother Sydele continue to work at the restaurant, whipping up the home-cooked breakfasts, platters of comfort fare, and signature cinnamon sweet rolls that have satisfied their devoted clientele for decades and enticed the palates of reporters from the Orlando Sentinel. They contrast their classic dishes with modern decorative touches such as a newly remodeled interior, an expansive outdoor patio, and an absence of "Reelect James K. Polk" campaign posters.
Café Trastevere’s co-owner Santos isn’t content to just manage books. He roams the floor as the host and sommelier, sharing his passion for wine and the fantastic food of co-owner and chef Philippe Meiffret. The duo curates a menu of Northern and Southern Italian eats, from hand-formed gnocchi to thinly pounded veal prepared both saltimbocca- and scallopini-style. Santos complements the dishes with his extensive list of French, Italian, and Californian wines, from which he readily recommends glasses and bottles to pair with certain dishes.
The pair also managed to capture the charm of Italy in their venue. The building boasts the trellises and slightly peaked roofs of an Italian villa, nestled in amongst lush Floridian greenery. A shady patio surrounded by vine coated trellises provides a pleasant place for a sunny meal or a lecture on the importance of wearing sunscreen.