Lost in Transit
Quality didn’t make the move when Bravissimo left downtown for Altamonte Springs.
For as long as I’ve been in Orlando, Bravissimo has been a restaurant that people discussed fondly. I should say “had been,” since what was once a tiny Italian café known for simple, well-executed dishes has become a mediocre restaurant adrift in a location surrounded by shopping centers.
The heyday of the original trattoria was in the late 1990s while Rosario Spagnolo (who now owns Terra Mia in Altamonte Springs) and Armando Martorelli (owner of Winter Park’s Trattoria Toscano) were serving outstandingly authentic Italian cuisine out of its very small kitchen on Shine Avenue, near Lake Eola. It was bought in 2000 by T.J. Bennett, who transplanted it last May to a former Straub’s location in Altamonte Springs, as Bravissimo Chophouse.
He should have stayed on Shine.
There are vestiges of the Straub’s décor in the plastic fish still perched like aquatic vultures over the tables, but nothing to indicate that the restaurant is Italian or meat-oriented.
On both my visits, there were moments when we were the only people there. It still took quite a while for the grilled seafood platter ($27) to arrive, since it must take time to prepare shrimp, scallops and fish fillets to the same chewy, overcooked level. I was dismayed by the pizza margarita ($9), a time-honored Neapolitan dish served here with an oddly fennel seed-spiced sauce and shredded mozzarella on a cracker-ish crust.
A return visit was slightly, but not encouragingly, better. Pollo rollatini ($18) featured a chicken filet wrapped around spinach and melted cheese, and was at least edible, but its bed of cream and cheese-laden pasta was overcooked and gummy. The fish and chips ($14) offered panko-crusted wedges of bland fish and potatoes coated in batter to no good effect.
“Bravissimo” means “very good” in Italian. I only wish that Bravissimo Chophouse could have lived up to the name.
ADDRESS 512 E. Altamonte Drive, Altamonte Springs