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Spoleto : My Italian Kitchen

12101 University Blvd.
Ste. 219
Orlando, FL 32817
(407) 658-0593
View Website Here


Spoleto is the newest arrival to the ever growing world of the “Fast Casual” dining experience. Fast Casual is a type of restaurant that does not offer full table service, but promises a higher quality of food with fewer frozen or processed ingredients than a fast-food restaurant. It is a concept that is positioned between fast food and casual dining. The typical cost per meal is $8-15 and is exemplified by chains such as Chipotle Mexican Grill Panera Bread.

Guests dining at Spoleto will find a restaurant that combines the speed of fast casual service with the sophistication of an Italian restaurant with gourmet quality food. Spoleto further defines the uniqueness of the concept by offering a seasonal menu based on the availability of fresh local products and an endless number of guest selected food combinations.


With a choice of over 25 authentic Italian inspired ingredients, it gives everyone a chance to create meals that inspire their palate. You can choose to indulge in richer ingredients like meats and cheeses, as well as a full complement of fresh vegetables, whole grains and fruits. All of this sounds great and looks even better in person, but it may be confusing to a first timer of Spoleto.

As you enter the queue, your first choice is what type of pasta you would like, or if you want to customize a flatbread or salad. You then interact with someone behind a counter that tells you to pick six additional ingredients that will go into your dish. There are over twenty five additional ingredients to choose from and include things like broccoli, tomatoes, onion, sausage, kale and scallions to name a few. Don't feel bad if you give that person behind the counter a blank stare...it's a lot to take in on your first visit.

Next you can choose an upgrade. If you go with just pasta, its about $8.00, and if you add a protein upgrade, you will add another couple of dollars to your tab. Upgrades include House Made Giant Meatball ($3.50), Prosciutto ($2.50), Roasted Link Sausage ($2.50), Herb Roasted Chicken ($2.50), and a Basil Marinated Shrimp for $4.00. Naturally your next decision will be what sauce you would like...choices include - Pesto, Marinara, Bolognese, Alfredo, Brodo di Pollo (chicken broth). Your final question is whether you would like to top off your creation with crushed red pepper, Parmesan, Italian herbs and a variety of other toppings.



After you select a pasta, you can choose up to six of the twenty five plus additional ingredients.


At Spoleto your ingredients are actually cooked together, and not just picked out of hot pans and mixed. The chef is always fun to watch and conversate with as he prepares your meal.


I chose the penne pasta with bacon, truffle roasted mushrooms, tomatoes, caramelized onions, pepperoncini and Italian cheese blend as my six ingredients. I also added the house made meatball and topped it off with fresh grated Parmesan. This looked and tasted as good, if not better, then anything you may get at a traditional sit down restaurant and was ordered and ready in under 10 minutes.


My guest chose the fettuccine with broccoli, carrots, pine nuts and sun roasted garlic and added the herb roasted chicken. You don't have to choose six ingredients, you may choose less, if you so wish. This dish was sauced with the Alfredo sauce and topped with fresh grated Parmesan and Italian herb blend. This was a perfect portion size and tasted wonderful.


As an added bonus, and I must say “You have to try this,” we had the Nutella flat bread with fresh strawberries. This is very simple and quite understated, but the Nutella and the delicious flat bread taste like they were made for each other.

Although the ordering system may be confusing at first, don't let that prevent you from trying out Spoleto. The food here is really good for fast casual Italian, and the number of dishes you can create is only limited by your imagination. The inside is very nice and open as well, and features open face brick and unique lighting fixtures made of cooking utensils.

Spoleto : My Italian Kitchen is open from Monday - Sunday 11am - 10pm. Keep an eye out for the newest location to open up inside of the Florida Mall’s all new food pavilion, and a third location coming to Winter Park at 349 N. Orlando Avenue.

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Father's Day Grilling Recipes with a Brazilian twist


Father's Day is a celebration honoring fathers and celebrating fatherhood, and the influence of fathers in society. It’s also a great day to cook out on the grill.

Whether you do all the grilling and give your dad some rest, or if your father just wont relinquish the grill, Ive got some great recipes to share with you.

If you have ever had the opportunity to eat at Texas De Brazil, the Brazilian churrascaria chain that that offers a selection of delicious mouthwatering meat until you scream ‘no mas', your going to love these recipes. Men love grilling meat, and TDB as I like to call it, is famous for its high-end meat lover's paradise. This Fathers Day, treat your dad to these recipes that are perfect for grilling this Sunday, or any day.


Texas de Brazil - Garlic Picanha

Ingredients:

1 picanha (Top Sirloin), about 2 ½ lbs

½ cup of peeled garlic cloves

½ cup of vegetable oil

Salt to taste

Directions:

-Start making the garlic sauce; in a blender, add the garlic and about half of the oil, cover the blender and turn it on, blend for about 5 seconds, remove the lid carefully, with the blender on slowly add the remaining vegetable oil. Blend until the oil emulsifies and the sauce has the consistency of a mayonnaise, about 20 seconds. Be careful to not over blend or the sauce will break, transfer the sauce to a small container and refrigerate. 

-Move the picanha to a cutting board, using a sharp knife, remove any excessive amount of fat, shaving fat little by little to have a uniform cap of about ¼” to ½”, turn the piece of meat and remove any silver skin and connective tissue from the bottom.

-Find the direction of the grain and start cutting 1 ¼” thick strips on the opposite direction of the grain, the first strips will be small, just tips.

-Once you the strips and few tips cut, cut the longer strips about 3” long.

-You will need 2 skewers; hold one piece of meat at a time and start skewering from the opposite side of the fat, when you are just about to cross the fat, bend the piece so the fat will be exposed.

-Season the meat with kosher salt, both sides, using a kitchen brush apply the garlic paste to the meat, you can use as much garlic as you want according to your preference.

-Place the skewers over the fire, let it grill without turning until the meat had seared and the fat has a nice golden color, about 5 minutes, turn the skewer and repeat.

-Transfer the skewers to a serving tray, or remove the meat from the skewers and place on a serving platter, let the meat rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 6 to 8



Texas de Brazil - Churrasco de Flank Steak (Flank Steak Brazilian Style)

Ingredients:

1 large piece of flank steak without removing the fat

4 lb Brazilian Sal Grosso (rock salt)

Directions:

-Prepare an open flame grill, charcoal or wood; a medium to high temperature is required and the flames must get very close to the meat

-Apply a generous amount of salt to the flank steak without rubbing it, the salt must be loose or the meat will be too salty

-Take the meat to the grill and cook for about 5 minutes each side for medium rare, turning only once

-Once ready, grab the flank steak with a large tongs and hit the meat with the side of a large knife to eliminate the extra salt

-Let the meat rest for a couple of minutes before slicing it

Bonus - Chimichurri Marinade and Sauce

Ingredients:

1 cup of olive oil

¼ cup of lemon juice

½ cup of chopped parsley

¼ cup of cilantro

2 soup spoons of fresh chopped garlic

1 soup spoon of dry oregano

1 soup spoon of red crushed pepper

Salt to taste

Directions:

-Using a large chef knife chop the parsley and cilantro, move to a bowl and add all other ingredients.

It can be used as a marinade for beef and chicken or as a sauce for the meat after grilled. The chimichurri can be refrigerated for about 2 weeks.

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Chefs Table at Fiorenzo Italian Steakhouse

9801 International Drive.
Orlando, Florida, 32819
(407)-345-4570

Fiorenzo is a modern steakhouse experience that combines the charm of an authentic Italian restaurant with a refined selection of steaks, chops and seafood inside of the Hyatt Regency Orlando. 

The restaurant has an open kitchen and a pizza oven that set the stage for the on site preparation of new and traditional Italian favorites as well as a selection of fish and premium steaks and chops. In addition to spectating the skillful preparation of grilled prime steaks, seafood entrees and creative pizza and pasta dishes, guests may gather at the Milan-inspired lounge and select wines from the extensive, award-winning wine cellar. 

Chef Will Walters is Chef de Cuisine at Fiorenzo, and he loves a good wine pairing with food like a lot of chefs do, but if you get a chance to speak with him, you may be surprised to find that he is actually a craft beer enthusiast. Therefore, it only made sense for Chef Will to hold his first chef's table event with a craft beer pairing instead of wine.

Chef Will put together an excellent dinner at Fiorenzo that featured steak house favorites served with ice-cold selections from New Belgium Brewing and an astonishing dessert paired with Small Town Brewery’s “Not Your Fathers Root Beer.”



Our first course of the evening was a Lump Crab Salad over Buttermilk Fried Green Tomato that was fried in shrimp butter with fennel-frisee and pink peppercorn honey. This was paired with New Belgium Brewing’s Ranger IPA that has a 6% ABV.



The Mustard Glazed Pork Belly over Cannellini Bean Puree with seared escarole and a pretzel gremolata was a wonderful second course. It was paired with New Belgium Brewing Trippel Ale with a 7.8% ABV. Chef Will’s secret ingredient for this dish was a honey mustard glaze that he borrowed from his mother.



If I didn't know any better, I would have thought the Espresso Rubbed Bison Tenderloin over orange scented heirloom carrots and potato risotto was a fine steak. The Bison was very tender and flavorful and paired excellently with the New Belgium Brewing 1554 Black Lager that has a 5.6% ABV.



From left to right...New Belgium Brewing Ranger IPA, Trippel Ale, 1554 Black Lager, and Small Town Brewery’s “Not Your Fathers Root Beer.”



We ended our night with Chocolate Filled Petite Beignets with a scoop of burnt vanilla ice cream and a Caramel Stick. Of course, that burnt vanilla ice cream was floating in a glass filled with Not Your Father’s Root Beer that has a 5.9% ABV. The dessert was sinful as it was, but this root beer is deadly. You can't taste any alcohol at all, and I can easily imagine drinking way too many of these.

This five course Chef’s Table dinner was $75 per person plus tax and gratuity. As you may have seen in one of my previous posts about Urban Tide, Hyatt Regency Orlando has hosted a few Chef’s Table events and plans on doing more. If you want to stay in the loop, head on over to the Hyatt Regency Orlando Facebook Page to be one of the first to find out about the next beer or wine pairing dinner that will take place.

Fiorenzo Italian Steakhouse’s private dining room welcomes celebrations, meetings and events with 50-100 guests, and the main dining room accommodates 200. Fiorenzo is open Monday - Saturday from 6:00 PM - 10:00 PM

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National Iced Tea Day

With summer officially underway, the timing is perfect for National Iced Tea Day.

If your like me, you enjoy iced tea on a daily basis, whether its hot or cold outside. You might like your iced tea plain or with a bit of lemon, honey, or you may sweeten it with sugar. Iced Tea is certainly a favorite summer cooler of millions of Americans, and best of all, tea is good for your health. So, what can make iced tea even better...? Well, Iced Tea Cocktails for starters.

Here are a few recipes to enjoy on this marvelous day of iced tea goodness from the folks at Sweet Leaf Tea and Tradewinds Tea. Take a break from the heat grab an iced tea cocktail and head out to the hammock strung under a shady tree and enjoy!


Mamma Mia Sangria

Ingredients:
1 part Sweet Leaf Tea Peach Sweet Tea
1 part rum
1 bottle red table wine
1 lemon, juiced
1 part sugar
2 oranges, sliced
2 ripe peaches, cut in small pieces
2 apples, cut in small pieces

Directions:
Soak fresh fruit in tea, rum, sugar and lemon juice in the bottom of large pitcher for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Top off with red wine, stir and chill. Serve over ice.
Source: Sweet Leaf Tea

Lemon Orange Mimosa

Ingredients:
Sweet Leaf Tea Lemon & Lime Unsweet Tea
Orange Juice
Moscato

Directions:
1 .Fill a champagne flute almost halfway with the Sweet Leaf Tea Lemon & Lime Unsweet
2. Add a splash of orange juice
3. Fill the rest of the champagne flute with Pink Moscato
4. For a fun addition, add some sugar to the rim of the champagne flute and a lemon peel
Source: Sweet Leaf Tea

Iced Tea in Paradise

Ingredients:
2 cups Tradewinds Jimmy Buffett’s Island Tea Strawberry Lime
1/2 cup mango juice
2 oz. vodka

Directions:
1. Stir ingredients and chill
Source: Tradewinds (www.TradewindsTea.com)
Raspberry Tea Slushy

Ingredients:
1 cup Tradewinds Unsweet Tea with a Hint of Raspberry
1 cup of ice
¼ cup fresh raspberries
1 tsp. lemon juice

Directions:
1. Add ingredients to blender and blend until smooth
2. Serve on a hot afternoon (or a cold one, it still tastes good then, too
Source: Tradewinds (www.TradewindsTea.com)

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Maddey's Craft & Cru

Chef Jason Schofield has been a busy man lately. The chef and his restaurant group are behind the upcoming Maddey's Craft & Cru that is set to open up in Downtown Orlando this July, as well as opening up a sandwich shop in the Ivanhoe District in the old Alpine Coffee shop on N. Orange Ave.

This N That eats is the planned name, and is expected to be open within the next two weeks. The menu will feature global sandwiches, cured meats and cheeses, as well as coffee made in the traditional sense of the region. In addition to all of this, Chef Jason has been testing food and hosting pop up dinners for Maddey’s Craft & Cru to spread his gospel of good food made with local ingredients and great tastes.

Maddey’s will seat 150 and the site will also feature a separate cocktail lounge called “Brix” with a capacity of 90 to 100. The restaurants mission is to serve foods with a focus on organic and nutritious foods made with the finest quality ingredients. From pastas to cheeses and even house grown micro greens and cured meats Maddey’s wants to create as much food as it can in house and by hand. A big focus will be on Artisan pizzas and an always rotating menu of seasonal items and creations.


You can expect to find the same care and craftsmanship in the cocktail lounge as well. There will be a selection of craft beers and wines on tap and of course, cocktails of the finest order.  

Here a few of the things I was privileged to sample at one of Chef Jason's more recent pop up dinners back in May. The dinner was held at the wonderful East End Market.

Chef Jason and his team put together the food, and a bartender from The Courtesy helped the team prepare some great cocktails.

We had a brief reception before the evening's activities and everyone enjoyed the cheese selection from La Femme du Fromage.

The pop up dinner got underway with a nice helping of Sliced Beef Tongue with brioche pudding and a pinot noir apple cider reduction. Beef tongue may not be for everybody, but I found this to be a very tasty rendition to try out.

This cocktail featured Averna, vanilla bean syrup, lemon, Carpano Antica, fino sherry and strawberries.

The second course was a Salad that featured goat cheese ricotta, Kale, honey’d almonds, organic tomato, Berkshire hog slices and charred lemon. A perfect summer seasonal salad that was light, crisp and refreshing, but found room to be savory also.

Another cocktail that was also perfect for summer featured a mixture of Gin, lemon, Falernum, yellow chartreuse, peach bitters.

Our third course was the Tomato Pasta with whey broth & ricotta. While we were busy drinking cocktails, the staff was busy making this pasta on the spot. Chef Jason was inspired to create this dish by a type of pasta called Fazzoletti which means handkerchief. The whey broth along with the ricotta was pleasantly smooth and quite flavorful.

A rather interesting cocktail that consisted of Cynar, Ancho Reyes, Cardamaro, Burlesque bitters, Lemon bitters, and a Fernet rinse had a spicy note on the way down.

A Short Rib with truffled purple yam, glazed onion, and beef tongue lardoons, (a sort of beef bacon) proved to be an exceptional fourth course for the evening.

The final course consisted of both a dessert and a cocktail all at once. The Caramel Bourbon Float with Olde Hearth peanut butter sandwich is certainly for adults only, and for those of you who enjoy an eye opening sip of sweet, peanut butter and Bourbon all at once. This drink was fun and intimidating, because it packed a wallop in the alcohol content.

That is the fun of what Maddey’s and the Schofield Restaurant Group aims to be. Whether you and some friends stop by for dinner or a cocktail, or perhaps one of the grown up desserts before a night out, Maddey’s Craft & Cru looks like a promising concept that should get the Downtown crowd and all of Central Florida excited.
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Pho 88 Colonial

9728 E Colonial Dr, 
Orlando, FL 32817
Phone (407) 930-7670


I have always been a fan of the original Pho 88 on Mills in Orlando and was excited to hear of the second one opening on the east side of Orlando. In case you are unfamiliar, Pho 88 is a family owned restaurant that has a vast selection of authentic Vietnamese dishes, especially Pho. Their popular and delectable pho (beef noodle soup) is a must try! They also serve other appetizing dishes such as rice, stir-fried, rice vermicelli, egg and clear noodles, and vegetarian dishes. They offer a variety of drinks to quench your thirst from some of the more popular Vietnamese ice coffee with condensed milk to import beers and wine.

This particular location, which is the second for Pho 88, used to be Louie & Maria's Italian Restaurant. I have no idea why they closed, they had been in business for over 30 years. The new owners have brightened and opened it up a bit, but the inside is just kind of plain. Not that that’s a bad thing, because the food more than makes up for lack of excitement in the dining room

As I mentioned earlier, the dining room is rather bland, but it is very spacious and accommodating.

Just as you enter, to the left, there is a nice little bar that has beer on tap and wine selections as well as a selection of Saki's.

The Cha Gio, or fried egg rolls, were actually some of the better egg rolls that I have had in some time. Although I am not normally of fan of fish sauce, the flavors of the two combined were superb.

The Beef Potstickers were quite tasty and I really enjoyed the dipping sauce.

The Bo Kho Pho Beef Stew had exceptional flavors. Filled with savory seasonings and a delicious broth that was so good, I kept trying to eat my wife's entree selection.

I ordered the Bun Bo Nuong or rice vermicelli with sliced beef and shredded cucumbers, lettuces, bean sprouts and fish sauce. With an added few dashes of Sriracha, this dish was all I could ask for.

I was pleasantly surprised by the new location of Pho 88. All of the food that we had was very good and served in a timely manner. I can guarantee you, this will be one of Taste of Orlando’s go-to spots, especially since they are right around the corner from me. I recommend that you go check them out yourself as well.


Pho 88 is open daily from: 11:00 am – 10:00 pm

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Jakes American Bar at Loews Royal Pacific Resort


6300 Hollywood Way
Orlando, FL 32819
407-503-3200
View Website Here


Loews Royal Pacific Resort is a great place to experience the allure of the south seas and feel the excitement of a time when adventurous travelers first island-hopped the South Pacific. 

Travelers often took breaks to relax along their journey at magnificent resorts where they could just kick back and enjoy the beauty of the islands. What makes Royal Pacific Resort so much more than just beauty and relaxation and a really cool lagoon style pool, is the great food they offer as well. After all, weary travelers do need to be refreshed.

The hotel boasts quite a few interesting dining options like the Wantilan Luau with live music and authentic Polynesian cuisine, Emeril's Tchoup Chop - Emeril Lagasse's take on Asian/Polynesian cuisine, Jake's American Bar - featuring live entertainment on select nights and the Orchid Court Lounge & Sushi Bar with inventive sushi and South Seas martinis.

If that's not enough to tempt you to visit yet, I've got more..

Loews Hotels & Resorts locations are celebrating National Burger Month with locally inspired signature burgers paired with craft beers, available through the end of June. In Orlando, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel and Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort are grilling up specialty burgers and pairing them with craft beer for the summer season.

From pickles and onion rings to French fries and coleslaw, everything goes with a good burger – but nothing quite like a cold beer. The talented food and beverage teams at Loews Hotels at Universal Orlando have done their research, piecing together a perfect combination of unique burgers and brews. The resulting burger and craft beer pairing is not only delicious, but also complements Loews’ dedication to delighting guests with exciting and approachable local travel experiences.

At Loews Royal Pacific Resort, guests in Jake’s American Bar can enjoy the B-52 Bomber Burger, a black angus burger with short ribs, caramelized onion, horseradish cheddar, lettuce and tomato paired with Jake’s American Red Lager, a smooth red lager with a hearty hop finish.

At Splendido, the poolside bar and grill at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, chefs will be grilling the Buddha Burger with pickled vegetables, pea sprouts and sriracha mayo, and pairing it with Funky Buddha Floridian Hefeweizen.

The Kitchen at Hard Rock Hotel is featuring its famous Kitchen Burger with fresh angus beef, bacon, cheddar, onion rings, lettuce, tomato and chipotle horseradish aioli, paired with Funky Buddha Brewery’s Hop Gun IPA.

At Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort, the bowling alley will feature its popular Galaxy Bacon Cheeseburger paired with Cigar City Invasion Pale Ale.

Here is a sampling of what's on tap at Jake's American Bar...

Mexican Seafood Cocktail Shot with local fish, shrimp, scallop, avocado, cilantro, citrus tomato cocktail sauce paired with Cigar City Jai Alai. This was tangy and sweet with a dash of spice and very delicious.


B-52 Bomber Burger is a beef patty with braised short rib, caramelized onion, and horseradish cheddar paired with Jake’s American Red Lager and topped with onion rings. It was really quite a mouthful, but it was cooked perfectly medium and quite good. Jake's American Red is a very smooth and enjoyable beer, but it is only available at Loews Royal Pacific Resort.


From left to right… Jake's American Red, Boulevard Dark Truth Stout, Cigar City Jai Alai, Swamp Head Cotton Mouth.


The Churro Bread Pudding with salted caramel ice cream, spiced candied pecans was paired with Boulevard Dark Truth Stout and all of it was extraordinarily tasty.
Jake’s is open daily from 11:00 am - 1:30 am with a limited late night menu from 10:00 pm - 1:30 am. Locally inspired signature burgers paired with craft beers are available through the end of June. For more information or to arrange your stay, call 1-800-23-LOEWS or visit www.loewshotels.com.
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Lello's Ristorante & Pizzeria

2025 Murrell Rd,
Rockledge, FL 32955
Phone (321) 305-5933


I often find myself in Rockledge or some part of what we call ‘The Space Coast” as I have family on that side of town. While there may be a plethora of seafood establishments dotting the coast, there are also a handful of decent restaurants scattered throughout cities from Titusville to Palm Bay that serve up more than just seafood.

Lello's Italian Ristorante and Pizzeria is one of those places, and is very much worth a visit if you happen to find yourself on Florida’s Space Coast. Located in the Westport Center, which is a strip mall of shops, you will find a small and somewhat unassuming venue with basic chairs and tables, a print out menu, and nothing else too fancy inside. Although the atmosphere and ambiance may not be impressive, I can assure you the food more than makes up for it.

Once you are seated, a waitress takes your order and gets the process of your dinner going. I do say process, because things don't seem to move too quickly at Lello’s, in part because everything is made to order, and made with house made ingredients. All of the pasta and dressings are made in house as well as a fine mozzarella. 


I had an opportunity to dine with three family members and got to taste a few dishes and some desserts. We ordered a selection of dinner entrees that included two Friday night specials and some of the house specialties.

Although not necessarily an Italian dish, the Friday night special of Seared Salmon with mango chutney and black beans and rice was very flavorful, and plated quite nicely.

I love a good Veal Parmigiana, and the one at Lello’s is some of the best I have had. The veal was very tender and smothered in homemade sauce and mozzarella. This veal cutlet just melted in your mouth.

The made from scratch Gnocchi Alla Sorrentina is made with beef and more of that fresh mozzarella, and was an impressive dish with just the right thickness and chew to the gnocchi.

Another one of the nightly specials was a rather large tomahawk style Veal Shank with a delicate and buttery gravy. This shank not only looked impressive, but it  was tender and cooked to perfection and tasted as good as it looks.

Our first dessert was the Coconut Creme Brulee. I really enjoyed this, and found the addition of coconut flavoring a unique and tasty treat.

The Limoncello Cake was heavenly. It is made with one of Italy's top selling liqueurs, Limoncello,  which is a lemon flavored cocktail additive, or a drink by itself. The cake was light, tangy and rich all at once.

Lello’s is a great family run restaurant that really caters to quality as well as its customers. Although we had a sampling of main dishes, there is quite a buzz over the pizzas and stromboli they serve up here. I am looking forward to a return visit and checking out the pies they offer as well as some calzone. Its definitely worth a visit, and worth the wait.

Lello’s is open from 12 to 9 p.m. on Sundays, and from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Saturday. They also serve beer and a selection of wines. They do not have a website yet, but you can check them out on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lellos-Ristorante-Pizzeria/874628319259873

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