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Hitting the High Notes

Antonio’s blends an inviting atmosphere with elegant dishes in perfect harmony.

There are plenty of great Italian restaurants in Orlando, but there are few that can manage to be smart and sophisticated without being imposing. Antonio’s in Maitland has that wonderful combination of warmth, hospitality and energy. The building overlooks the elegant Lake Lily and has undergone a renovation in past years to have open seating outside on the balcony to capture this breathtaking view.

Antonio’s is a unique experience, having a lively deli, wine shop and Italian market that occupies the first level. You can stop by for lunch and grab a wood-fired pizza and a bottle of wine that they will cork at your table while you pick through charcuterie, cheeses and other Italian goodies. The upstairs boasts the view of the shimmering lake, framed by sunset skies. The dining area glows with impressions of candlelight, crisp white linens and gleaming china. Service is thoroughly professional, yet smooth and  relaxed. The  menu  features  authentic northern and coastal Italian cuisine with a wide variety of fresh seafood, steaks, and pastas.

On the Friday evening we dined, Antonio’s was bustling,  but that didn’t stop our server, Michael, from promptly making his way to our table and giving us his full attention. He went over the chef’s  specials for the evening and inquired about our beverage order. I had the Woodford Old Fashioned ($12); it was a well- mixed and garnished cocktail that hit all the right notes. My wife wanted a bottle of Chianti ($30) and so Michael suggested the Poggio Vignoso for the table and his recommendation was perfect. It paired nicely with the herbed focaccia bread graciously brought to our table.

Our first appetizer was the Calamari Fritta ($12) and it was a good choice. The squid was lightly fried to a perfect crisp, the breading having great flavor and the accompanying sun- dried tomato aioli was super tasty. The next dish—Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Caprese ($15)—was  very inventive and exquisitely executed. The buffalo mozzarella, roasted plum tomato, grilled eggplant and basil pesto combined to make a magical and vibrant dish. I recommend saving some of the focaccia to sop up any remnants of the pesto and eggplant. 

When it came time to consider an entrée, I ordered the  Oak  Wood  Grilled 16-ounce Ribeye ($39). The cut was grilled to a perfect medium and the herbed olive oil brushed on the sear of the steak gave an Old World flair only found in the most authentic of Italian eateries. The potato and vegetable accompaniments were also just as worthy as its counterpart.

My wife, inspired by the feel of the evening ordered the Veal Marsala ($25)—a dish she never orders. I had to try some myself and I found the veal was fork tender and the sauce was rich and full of earthy mushrooms. In fact, it was the best representation of the dish I’ve had anywhere; so delicious and so spot on.

Somehow, without me realizing, my wife ordered a side of the Peas with Prosciutto ($8). I’m  glad she did; it was the perfect side no matter what the main dish. Those tender peas and the crispy saltiness were so on point I could eat them as a main course.

Michael came by to describe the dessert menu and after-dinner drinks. I stayed loyal to my Old Fashioned while my wife had a fresh pressed  Italian Coffee ($5) to  go with her Tiramisu ($7.5). The tiramisu was created in a traditional manner, but it was much lighter and delicate than others I have tasted. The flavors of the mascarpone and zabaglione blended ever so softly with the espresso dipped ladyfingers. The slice was hefty enough so I could do more than just sample a bite. It was simply fantastic.

I couldn’t pass up the Valentino ($6.95), a small but mighty Belgian chocolate cup filled with brandy, whipped cream and chocolate, served over a raspberry sauce. At first, the size comparison to the tiramisu had me worried, but the dense-rich punch in this little dessert more than made up for it.

Our entire experience at Antonio’s from the service to the food was beyond expectations. It’s no wonder why the restaurant has been a culinary destination for families for as long as I can remember. And much like its wine list, this mainstay keeps getting better with age.

611 South Orlando Ave. | Maitland
(407) 645-5523 |

This article originally appeared in Orlando Family Magazine’s November 2018 issue.

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