Tag: International Drive
Since moving to Orlando, I’ve been passively searching for a decent Italian restaurant. I was once recommended to Fresco, a surprisingly good restaurant for being stuck next to Kmart in the corner of a dark shopping plaza on Turkey Lake Rd. Well now we stumbled upon Matteo’s on International Drive, down the road from the Festival Bay Mall. It took over the former Whistle Junction spot about a year ago, but we hadn’t heard of it until this weekend, after spotting it while heading to the nearby Disney Character Warehouse outlet store.
As it turns out, Matteo’s is excellent, serving HUGE family style portions for a very reasonable price. They offer “half” portions as well, for an even more reasonable price, and even those dishes are enough to bring home plenty of leftovers.
My meal started with a good, but not great, cup of pasta fagioli soup, and Michelle had an excellent caprese salad, with fresh mozzarella and a rich balsamic glaze. Michelle’s dinner was equally good, a variation on chicken parmesan but with eggplant layered in as well. I know it was good because I ate the remaining half of it for dinner the next night. I tried one of Matteo’s specialities, veal layered with cheese, mushrooms, and a marsala sauce. I forget what name they gave it, but it was excellent (and was my lunch the next day).
We were stuffed and opted against dessert, but after chatting with the restaurant’s owners/managers for quite a while (very nice guys from New York), they offered a free cannoli to go, which we gladly accepted. And it was delicious, once we had the room for it a bit later.
I’ll definitely return to Matteo’s, not only for the good food, but also for the great people that work there. Despite its touristy surroundings, it’s a great restaurant for locals to enjoy.
Most surprisingly, they are technically a chain restaurant, with other locations in New York and elsewhere in Florida. But it’s all family-owned.Tweet
Before returning to 1/2 price Wednesday at Dave and Buster’s tonight, we tried a new (to us) restaurant called Brick House Tavern on International Drive. Don’t bother. While the decor was inviting, particularly the large fireplace and comfortable couches/benches, and the wait staff comprised of “Brick House girls” were nice and dressed in small clothing (usually a plus), the food was boring and improperly cooked.
I ordered a specialty appetizer of olives stuffed with brie and sausage then fried. What came out was about 30 seconds short of being burnt with the olive flavor far overpowering anything else. I couldn’t even tell they were stuffed with anything. For dinner, I had a “fondue mushroom burger”, which was not round like most burgers but formed into a long patty served on a hoagie roll. The flavor was good but the burger was overcooked. With it I selected “garlic parmesan tots”, expecting tater tots to be jazzed up with a special sauce or breading. Instead, I got standard tots, overcooked and nearly burnt (sensing a pattern?) with grated parmesan cheese and chunks of uncooked garlic thrown on top. Blech. Michelle had french toast and bacon, which she said was decent but nothing special.
Brick House Tavern is a comfortable restaurant that’s easy on the eyes for a number of reasons, but not easy on the stomach. We won’t be returning.Tweet
While out exploring today, I spotted a Halloween store on the north/east end of International Drive, just before the Festival Bay Mall. It’s in a shopping plaza and I just barely saw the orange and black sign while driving past. So I quickly did a U-turn and headed in for a little taste of Halloween in July!
The store is mostly filled with costumes, masks, and accessories, though it does have some decorations in the back. I didn’t buy anything today, though I was tempted to pick up a neat Freddy Krueger tombstone they had. Unfortunately it was $100, which was way more than I wanted to pay. I found it online tonight for $70.
I’ll have to return soon. It’s one of very few places in Orlando where I can enjoy Halloween before the Spirit stores start popping up in September. Apparently this store has been around for a year! I wish I’d known sooner.Tweet