Dear Orlando Diners,
Well it was Friday night and my wife and I were in the mood for some good Italian food. Too bad we were in an Italian food mood on this night… Will explain. We headed over to Stefano’s Italian Grille, located in the Summerport Village right outside of Windermere. Don’t get this placed confused with Stefano’s on Tuskawilla Rd, no affiliation. A couple to a few years back I recall this Stefano’s restaurant was also located in Dr. Phillips on Sandlake Rd (aka Restaurant Row) next to the Publix. Stefano’s Italian Grille did not last long at this location. I also remember the chef or owner being from Pittsburg. Then a sports bar opened up in its place and has now has closed. I remember back in the day when this location was Carrinos, an old southwest Orlando favorite. Anyway, we were greeted by a younger female server. She brought out our waters. They put a thin slice of cucumber in their waters, nice touch and creative. However, things go down from here. I ordered the Chicken Parmigiana . And like I do at other restaurants like Carrabba’s I always ask if the chef can pound the chicken extra thin for me. It’s just so much more tender this way. At Carrabba’s they don’t give you an odd look, they treat it like regular conversation and they make it nice and thin for me (try it) when you ask them. Not at Stefano’s! The server said they could not do that, it was already pre prepared. Found that very strange, they could not pound it thin for me. I can make this dish myself, and if its pre prepared or not, it can still be pounded accordingly, imagine that? Trust me, not to tricky at all. It came with pasta. I asked if I could get the Sautéed Spinach instead of the pasta, the spinach that is one of their sides on their menu (trying to eat more healthy). Again, no can do. 0-2 here. The young female server would not budge. Her stance was, it’s prepared as is or it is what it is. Again, same type of dishes is served at Carrabbas’s and you can get it this way plus you don’t get lip service, they just accommodate. I was still in the mood for Chicken Parm ($15.90) so I ordered it any way. I thought it might be surprisingly good; yes I was taking a chance. It was lightly breaded; pan seared, with marinara sauce, mozzarella, provolone and Parmigiano –reggiano cheeses. The chicken dish came out quite THICK, and not to my liking. That’s why I wanted it pounded thinner. The sauce and pasta was just OK. Entrees are served with a vegetable of the day and starch of the day. Salad with your meal is an additional price. Speaking of the salad ($4.50), it was fresh. It was served with mixed greens, with bacon, carrots, chi chi beans, cucumbers, croutons, olives and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, with house made balsamic vinaigrette. My wife had Pasta Arrabbiata ($13.90). It was served with Sopressata, San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, parmesan, and banana peppers. This pasta dish is traditionally a semi-spicy dish. However it was not spicy. No kick to it. I thought the banana peppers in this dish unbalanced this entrée. My wife thought the dish was less than OK. I did see the chef come out and talk to some of the diners. However, on this night he did not stop by our table. Stefano’s is located in a Publix shopping center. There is plenty of parking available. For what we spent on this meal, adding salads, having adult drinks, and having the server “not try” to accommodate my small “asks”, I can’t recommend this place at this time. I will give it another shot in the future.
13424 Summerport Village Pkwy
Windermere, Fl www.stefanositaliangrille.com