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
Tonight I visited a local Italian restaurant to pick up some food. While waiting, I noticed a perfectly stereotypical Italian family eating there. The family was huge, with multiple generations sitting together. There was a large pile of garlic rolls on the table. Two guys were loudly conversing, throwing a few swear words in here and there, not minding that there were kids at the table. And they all had thick New York accents.
I’m Italian, but I don’t “act” Italian. This group did. But we were in an Italian restaurant, so it all made sense.
I hope they don’t mind me posting a picture of them here.Tweet