The Disney Springs culinary lineup keeps changing, promising even more variety to an already can't-miss complex of restaurants.
It seems like I spend a lot of time at Disney Springs. I didn’t expect to like it when the former Downtown Disney/Pleasure Island shopping-dining-drinking complex (if you ever went to Pleasure Island, you know what I mean) began its conversion. But I have to say the new digs have grown on me. True, I’ll never get over the loss of the Adventurers Club (kungaloosh!), but Orlando hasn’t seen a gathering of such culinary strength since Restaurant Row became a thing and that should be celebrated. And besides, I like the clothes at Uniqlo.
Even though my guided tour of gastronomic delights that appeared in the December issue is still pretty current, change springs eternal, and recent announcements are a harbinger of even more treasures.
* The Chef Tony Mantuano-guided Portobello Country Italian Trattoria becomes Terralina Crafted Italian this fall, after a massive makeover. The James Beard Award-winning chef will have an extensive influence in creating a reflection of his beloved Italy.
* Paradiso 37, the pan-American restaurant next to Raglan Road, is having its menus refreshed and reconfigured by the ace chef Tim Keating, who is also working his magic at Urbain 40. Both are owned by the Boulevard Restaurants group.
* SUPER celebrity chef Jose Andres, who has won numerous international awards for his 19 restaurants (and has superb politics—look him up), brings a tapas and contemporary Spanish restaurant called Jaleo to Disney West Side in 2018. His arrival means …
* The Wolfgang Puck empire will be relocating, leaving its 20-year Grand Café location in August and transmogrifying in 2018 into Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill in Disney Springs Town Center.
* I am told with much certainty that the 6,000-square-foot Wine Bar George, from our homegrown Master Sommelier George Miliotes, is on track to open this fall, with extraordinary wine and bites selections.
* And the 1920s-themed entertainment and dining complex The Edison is still readying its massive site for opening late this year.
- Downtown hot (dog) spot Frank & Steins closed recently and will be replaced in relatively short order by a new food hall called Market on Magnolia. The local vendors filling the dining destination will include the The Gnarly Barley craft beer and sandwich shop; food truck turned California-style hangout Da Kine Poke; and Sauced Wood Fired Pizza, run by area mainstay Anthony’s of Thornton Park. Watch for an extended look at the food hall phenomenon in a future issue of Orlando magazine.
- Scratch, the tiny restaurant in Winter Park that became one of my very enjoyable favorites when it opened in 2014, shut its doors last week. Original chef Dustin Haney, a self-taught savant who brought amazingly original flair to simple dishes like shrimp and grits, was already gone in 2015, and I guess the loss eventually took its toll.