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Southwest Orange Thursday, Jun. 23, 2016 6 years ago

Restaurateur to serve up new Italian fare

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Leonard Kodra, an Albanian-native and co-owner of the downtown Fratelli's restaurant, will be opening up a second Italian Restaurant named 'Bella Italia Ristorante' in Horizon West.
by: Gabby Baquero News Editor

In just a few weeks, Horizon West will have another family-owned Italian restaurant to try. Bella Italia Ristorante, currently under construction at 13848 Tilden Road, Suite 192, is scheduled to open in mid-July.

Once open, it will greet customers with a warm ambiance designed with Tuscany-style décor. The interior, which will be able to seat 70 to 75 people, will feature paintings of picturesque Italian landscapes, along with chandeliers and an outside seating area with umbrella tables for shade. 

The owner and head chef, Leonard Kodra, a Windermere resident for six years, has worked in Italian restaurants nearly all his life. Starting at 14, Kodra worked in his father’s Italian restaurant, Guzhina Italia, in Korca, Albania.

When he moved to Florida about 20 years ago, he worked as the head chef at an Italian restaurant in Sarasota named Rosebud’s Steak and Seafood House for 11-and-one-half years. Kodra and his brother then opened Fratelli’s Italian Restaurant in downtown Orlando, which they have owned for eight-and-one-half years. 

Now Kodra is excitedly making arrangements as he anticipates the finished construction of his upcoming restaurant. He and his wife will be handling Bella Italia, while Kodra’s brother manages the Fratelli’s Italian  Restaurant downtown. 

“I like this area a lot,” Kodra said. “It was my dream to be in this area in Winter Garden, and I cannot wait to finish.”

Included in the various menu selections for appetizers are bruschetta, fried calamari, meatball parmesan and fried mozzarella. For desserts, the restaurant provides popular Italian classics such as cannoli, tiramisu, crème brûlée and tartufo, an ice cream-filled brownie ball.

For the main entrées, Kodra plans to go big. He will be offering pasta al forno, also known as baked ziti, chicken marsala and one of his personal favorites, chicken florentine, which is sautéed with spinach, mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes and topped with melted mozzarella.

Kodra said he hasn’t begun advertising his upcoming restaurant just yet, but he’s noticed the sign has been attracting a lot of attention from locals already.

“A lot of people in this area must like Italian restaurants because they cannot wait, and they come and ask me every day, ‘When are you gonna open,’ and they’re so excited,” Kodra said.

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Contact Gabby Baquero at [email protected]

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