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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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Urban Tide at Hyatt Regency


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


Some of you may remember the former Peabody Hotel and the famous marching ducks. One of the restaurants inside of this establishment was an Italian restaurant by the name of Napa. 

Gone are the days of the ducks, and the Peabody itself for that matter, as Hyatt purchased the property a few years ago and turned it into The Hyatt Grand Regency. Napa stuck around for a while after that, but now the restaurant has transitioned into Urban Tide, which offers diners a modern twist on local Florida seafood favorites.

The concept of Urban Tide is to accentuate the chic coastal cuisine and the freshest seafood from Florida’s bountiful coast. Seasonal favorites are celebrated and elevated with bold flavors served in a stylish setting. With dark wood furnishings and modern decor, Urban Tide offers diners a quiet, understated elegance highlighted by picturesque views of the grotto pool.

Chef Jared Gross brings Florida’s local seafood flavors to life with his modern twist on coastal favorites. Highlights from the new menu include a selection of starters such as a ceviche with citrus marinated Florida sea bass and serrano spiked rock shrimp and grouper cheeks with shishito peppers. Seafood selections include gulf grouper, sea bass and whole red snapper, which can be prepared blackened, grilled, or sauteed. All seafood dishes are served with a trio of house made sauces. Other favorites include grilled domestic lamb rack with tomato farro risotto and baby zucchini as well as a classic Cioppino.

Whether dining for lunch or dinner, guests will find a classic or current take on favorite handcrafted cocktails, or they may select from a distinctive collection of craft beers and fine wines. When it comes to wines and cocktails, you can rest assured that Hyatt Regency has put just as much thought into libations as they have the food. The people at Hyatt have teamed up with a few very distinctive wine makers from various regions across the globe, to make sure they are bringing their guests the very best selection and pairings possible.

The restaurants at the Hyatt Regency will feature various “Chef’s Table” events throughout the year, where the the head chef and a selected winemaker or a selected beer brewer will collaborate to create an evening of food and fine wine, or food and fine beer pairings at Urban Tide and Fiorenzo “Chef’s Table” dinner events. Fiorenzo is the Italian steakhouse on the property that combines the charm of an authentic Italian restaurant with a refined selection of steaks, chops and seafood.

I recently had the opportunity to attend a “Chefs Table” event and enjoy an extraordinary evening of delicious foods from Chef Jared Gross and some great wine from Argentina with Juan Pablo Gonzalez, who is a representative for Pascual Toso wines.

When in the mid 1880s Pascual Toso set out towards Argentina from his home town, Canale D’Alba, in Piamonte, Italy, he could not have imagined that he would become the founder of a winery, which is today one of the oldest and most prestigious wineries in Argentina.

The Toso brand benefits of a real success not just in the national market, but also worldwide. The Bodega has gained years of experience in exporting to international markets, and the wines are available in more than 30 markets including the United Kingdom, USA, Japan, Europe, Russia, Korea, Canada and Latin America.

The most important part of Toso wines is the passion for the wines and the quality they try to achieve. Since 1890, Bodegas y Viñedos Pascual Toso has become one of the most exciting and promising Argentine wineries and remains faithful to its principles: Tradition, Authenticity, Innovation.


Our evening was started with a reception that featured a Florida Grouper Ceviche with serrano peppers and a calamari ring, as well as a glass or two of Toso Brut Sparkling Chardonnay. I was impressed with the ceviche and the spiciness of it, but I was falling in love with the Champagne like sparkling chardonnay.
 
Seafood is certainly an international food, but biscuits are a pretty southern thing, so why not pair them together with Red Spruce Farms Cheddar Biscuits served with a burnt onion jam and a pimento spread.


The Diver Scallop with brown butter and lobster risotto was our first course, and it was a delectable dish made with fennel, chives and blood orange. 


That delectable diver scallop came paired with a soft and very aromatic Toso Chardonnay from 2012. It has an extremely pleasant aroma and was quite enjoyable.


The Linguica Sausage Croquettes were a rather interesting second course, and they were quite tasty. They are made with braised rabbit gribeche, which is a mayonnaise style cold egg sauce, and walnut rye crumbs. This was served along with a wonderful Toso Malbec Reserve 2012. The Malbec Reserve is one of the top wines from Toso because it is easy on the palate and is a serious Malbec at a good value.


Our third course was a Bison Filet with Wild Mushroom Cannelloni in a smoked tomato butter sauce. This was a rather heavy portion of food, but delicious nonetheless. Although the food was good, It took a backseat to the Toso Pedregal 2010 that was served up alongside.


The Toso Pedregal 2010 is made with 70% Malbec and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is aged for 18 months in oak with the Cabernet Sauvignon being aged in American oak barrels, and the Malbec being aged in French oak. After that, the wine is aged 10 months in bottles before release. All of this makes for a mesmerizing flavor of beautiful black fruit with blackberry, boysenberry and accents of licorice. One sip, and you will see why the Pedregal is of notable pedigree and a very special wine indeed.


Our fourth and final course of the evening was a Chocolate Hazelnut Tart with burnt honey ice cream and spring berries. A very elegant dessert with the outstanding flavor of the burnt honey ice cream. Our dessert came with Toso Altah Syrah 2010. This is a wine with an intense nose of dark fruit, blackberry, blackcurrant, dark chocolate, vanilla and oak spices, and it was a perfect wine to end the evening on.

The next Chef’s Table event will be held at Fiorenzo Italian Steakhouse on Saturday May 23rd. Chef de Cuisine Will Walters will be heading up his first Chef’s Table dinner featuring steakhouse favorites served with ice cold selections from New Belgium Brewing. Limited seats are available and you can call 407-345-4570 for reservations.

Also on the calendar for May is Summer Sensation, Live on the Garden Terrace. Guest will get an opportunity to feel the sensation as country singer-songwriter and national recording artist Josh Thompson takes the stage with JT Hodges and Nikki Lane to kick off summer in unforgettable fashion on Sunday, May 24. Live on the Garden Terrace, the hotels first ever concert celebration pairs the hottest summer music sensations with cool breezes, ice cold brews and handcrafted cocktails. Summer Sensation tickets are available without hotel accommodations via EventBrite.

General Admission is $45 and VIP Admission is $75. All ticket holders receive free self-parking and 20% off food at the signature restaurants.

Hyatt Regency Orlando offers guests the very best of both worlds from business travel to tourism. Located on I-Drive in the Convention District, they offer an upscale vacation resort with an unrivaled radius to top attractions for corporate travel or theme park adventures. No matter what brings you to Central Florida, this is a wonderful place to treat yourself to some rest and rejuvenation. From state of the art spa and salon services to award winning culinary expertise, you will be immersed in indulgence.

The hotel is connected to the Orange County Convention Center, and is only minutes from the magical Disney theme parks. They also offer 315,000 square feet of flexible meeting space to host events, from business conferences to elegant weddings with style and sophistication.

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Whisper Creek Farm: The Kitchen

4040 Central Florida Pkwy
Orlando, FL 32837
(407) 206-2300


Say hello to the all new restaurant and brewery at JW Marriott...
Whisper Creek Farm: The Kitchen.

As the name implies, this new restaurant is focused on getting the most out of the resort’s on-site farm, and really amplifying the farm to fork dining scene in Orlando. If the food is not enough to impress you, they do have a pretty magnificent nano brewery on site as well.

The Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott Orlando,Grande Lakes continues to set the bar high for the farm-to-fork experience in Orlando, which is quickly becoming a top culinary destination. The Kitchen at JW Marriott Orlando Features the inaugural batch of beer from The Brewery at Grande Lakes, an in-house first-of-its-kind nano-brewery producing house-made brews on tap and served throughout the resort. 

The Kitchen showcases a rustic yet polished design and is intended to have the vibe of eating in your family’s kitchen, with a variety of communal, high-top, sofa, outdoor, and bar seating with rich woods, steel blues, and leather accents throughout. Menu items at The Kitchen include everything from snacks to small plates and sandwiches, charcuterie & cheese boards, and flatbreads that will feature seasonal ingredients from the 7,000-square-foot on-site garden at Whisper Creek Farm.


The Kitchen’s sausages and charcuterie, prepared by the JW Marriott butcher, pair perfectly with The Brewery’s hops-laden creations. Signature menu items prepared in the restaurant’s open-air display kitchen includes fresh pickled vegetables, hop-salted house pretzels served with “Surplus” Ale cheese fondue, and a smoked ham sandwich with a farm fried egg. In addition to showcasing The Brewery’s seasonal brews, The Kitchen’s six taps will rotate between five seasonal selections from The Brewery, and the always-available Surplus Honey Citrus Ale which is Grande Lakes’ flagship beer.

JW Marriott Grande Lakes and Whisper Creek Farm: The Brewery are the first Marriott property to launch a nano-brewery, and as such, they have brought in a local Cicerone certified brew master to lead The Brewery. The Brewery will produce 28 gallons of beer weekly including five styles of beer created each season. The current lineup will feature a Dark, Wheat/Light, Amber, IPA and a Special Brew (a seasonal made from the freshest farm ingredients). Signature Special Brew varieties will include the Maple Bacon Stout, Soup of the Day IPA, and Ghost Pepper Wheat.


To complement The Brewery launch, Grande Lakes Orlando is collaborating with nearby Florida Beer Company. The Cape Canaveral-based brewery is helping to develop The Kitchen's flagship beer named Surplus, a signature Floridian honey citrus ale that is to be distributed throughout the resort’s outlets and available year round (naturally infused with Grande Lakes honey sourced from the resort's-property apiaries).

The launch of the on-property brewery furthers the resort’s ever-expanding commitment to sustainable cuisine, which started more than ten years ago with Primo Garden providing fresh produce and herbs for award-winning Chef Melissa Kelly's Primo restaurant at JW Marriott Orlando. Since then Grande Lakes has launched several apiaries, baked all its bread in house (by a 30-strong pastry team), welcomed 30 chickens to a Whisper Creek Farm coop, and opened Highball & Harvest at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando in September 2014, featuring Southern-inspired cuisine with ingredients from Whisper Creek Farm.


You should already know by now, that whenever the Ritz Carlton and JW Marriott Orlando decide to launch a new culinary adventure, it's always a top notch affair, and The Kitchen is no exception. I was invited to a media preview and got to sample some of the food and craft beers on tap. Everything was exceptional, of course.


We started with a serving of Chive Biscuits with Pork Butter and Apple Moonshine Jam. The butter was savory with a slight pork flavor and the jam was sweet and tart all at once.


The Kale Pesto Flatbread is topped with eggplant, balsamic onions and arugula, all from Whisper Creek Farm. We enjoyed these dishes with a Farmhouse Brown Ale.


Nothing says farm to fork more than an outstanding salad, and the Whisper Creek Farm Harvest Salad really delivered. Made with fresh picked vegetables, pickled vegetables and a citrus ricotta cheese, this salad paired perfectly with a WCF Lemon Tea Ale.

Our first main dish we sampled was the Seared Grouper with Anson Mills grits. This was served in a savory broth made from ham hocks, topped with leeks and paired with Surplus Pale Ale.


Next Up, we had the Whisper Creek Smoked Ham and Farm Fried Egg sandwich served on house-made Whisper Creek Farm honey pecan roll. This sandwich was inspired in part by a popular ham sandwich on the original 1927 Marriott Hot Shoppe Menu and it was delicious. The Lemon Grass Amber Wheat Ale that accompanied this sandwich was light and had a crisp finish.


The Surplus Kumquat Gelato was a tasty treat to end our meal, and it paired wonderfully with the Paradise Orange Wheat.


The Brewery.jpg

In addition to brewing signature beer for The Kitchen, The Brewery also operates as a highly unique back-of-house Chef’s Table for intimate evenings and group events.

The Kitchen’s small plates are carefully planned by the JW Marriott culinary team and brought to life by Chef de Partie Jason Shapiro who joined Grande Lakes Orlando in 2009, and since then has been involved in the resort’s farm-to-fork efforts including the creation of Whisper Creek Farm.

Located just off the main JW Marriott lobby, The Kitchen seats 100 indoors and 50 on the outdoor terrace. The restaurant is open from 5 p.m.to 11 p.m., with the bar open until midnight. The space can also be utilized as a brand-new social meeting space, bookable for group functions during the day.

Grande Lakes Orlando is a 500-acre resort with a luxury 582-room Ritz-Carlton and a deluxe 1,000-room JW Marriott hotel situated at the headwaters of the Florida Everglades. Orlando’s luxury leader provides an authentic, local experience from its farm-to-fork dining offerings to its Grande Lakes Adventures Experiences, which include kayaking, eco-tours on Shingle Creek, and a fishing school.

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