Review: Italio Restaurant in Winter Park

Can fast be good?

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  • | 9:40 a.m. April 24, 2013
Italio's Calamari Miso is part of a surprisingly long list of available fare at the new restaurant.
Italio's Calamari Miso is part of a surprisingly long list of available fare at the new restaurant.
  • Winter Park - Maitland Observer
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The brand new Italio Restaurant – in a perfect location just north of the busy intersection of Fairbanks Avenue and U.S. Highway 17-92 in Winter Park – has raised the concept of “fast food” to a level this reviewer never thought possible, and they’ve done it with (my favorite) Italian food!

And here is the essence of what I have to share with you today: This is the best food you can get for the price anywhere in Central Florida.

Italio first offered its quick-service food concept in 2012 in Boca Raton where its customers quickly accepted this stand-in-line, on-the-go alternative to traditional Italian dining. Italio’s concept offers patrons literally hundreds of options to create the ideal meal we only wish we could cook at home with each ‘ingredient’ pre-cooked by the restaurant and chosen by us.

One happy customer summed it up by commenting, “Do you like Italian? Do you want your meal fast? Do you understand how to order at Chipotle? If so, you’ll like Italio.”

Since we’re residents of Central Florida, we know how to stand in line better than any other people in the world. And, remembering this is “fast food,” you can use your time (while standing in line) to make your first of many choices. That first choice is how your entrée is to be served. It can be a Pasta Bowl, Salad Bowl or a ‘Piadina,’ an Italian wrap, much like a French crepe that actually has its history in ancient Roman street food.

Step two offers a choice of meats such as chicken breast (marinated in lemon-herb vinaigrette at $6.98); meatball of ground beef and pork at $6.98; grilled sirloin steak at $6.98; grilled shrimp at $8.98; Italian sausage at $6.98; or the veggie medley at $6.78. You see what I mean about the value.

Step three taps into our inner-chef and challenges us with varying combinations of sauces, dressings and pestos ranging from Alfredo to traditional Pomodoro to Roasted Red Pepper pesto. The final step involves choosing from more than 20 toppings, including bruschetta, chickpeas, olive tapenade and a variety of cheeses.

Please keep in mind these low prices come with the traditional fast food ‘compromises’ of eating from cardboard bowls with plastic knives and forks. But there is no compromising on the food. I was proud of myself for creating a dish consisting of whole-wheat pasta, steak, fresh basil pesto, and aged, shaved Parmesan cheese – and it was delicious. That’s really the whole point here. Italio allows us to eat all our favorite comfort foods, and we can do it anytime, because the prices are so low. This was witnessed as I had my first visit there exactly one month after the restaurant opened and it was already full of happy, pasta-loving customers. All around me, people were truly enjoying their food, which speaks to the atmosphere in Italio. It’s a truly happy place. This was exemplified by two different readers who “spotted me” and shared how happy they were that I would be writing about what has already become a one of their favorite restaurants.

The kids’ menu is even cheaper ($3.98), and I enjoyed watching an experienced family with five children sitting near me as the kids professionally pulled their noodles into their mouths. Families cannot hope for more than a beautifully designed, clean restaurant that offers fresh ingredients at affordable prices for the casual diner.

And there’s more. As Italio wishes to be known as a good neighbor as well as being a good restaurant, they recently initiated Mangia Mondays - a month-long charitable initiative to benefit the Community Food and Outreach Center (CFOC). On every Monday through May 13, 100 percent of the profits earned on Mondays will be contributed to the Central Florida charity, which transforms lives though education and employment opportunities. In addition, Italio and CFOC’s employment division are collaborating to secure job placements for members at the Winter Park restaurant. Impressive.

I love the food AND I love the ease of this new ‘concept’ restaurant, and since Italian is my favorite, I invite you to come over and share your thoughts when you see me there for a quick pasta fix. It’s so cool – it’s like pasta has its own happy hour all day long at Italio.

The Winter Park location is at 276 S. Orlando Ave. and is open seven days a week from 10:45 a.m. to 10 p.m. Visit


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