Italio restaurant, located at 276 South Orlando Ave. in Winter Park, offers a quick and casual alternative to traditional sit down Italian restaurants. Entrees range in price from about $7-9 with sides and desserts available for around $2-4. The build-your-own style allows diners to create custom pasta bowls, wraps, and salads to suit their own tastes.
The first step is to choose a pasta, salad, or piadina (an Italian-style wrap similar to a burrito). Then, add a choice of protein (shrimp, chicken, steak, meatballs, or roasted vegetables).
Diners continue to customize their dishes with choices of housemade pestos and sauces and a variety of toppings from chickpeas to roasted red peppers or bruschetta.
The piadina can be filled with meat, pasta, sauce, and toppings. It is not wrapped as tightly as a burrito, and therefore can be difficult to eat street-food style. It might be easier to opt for the fork and knife method. The wrap is reminiscent of naan crossed with pita bread.
Stuffed inside the piadina, the large butter and herb marinated shrimp (not the tiny salad topper kind) give the wrap a hearty bite, along with a little bit of pasta, sauce, red onion, and bruschetta. It is a light and healthy combination that is also satisfying.
The salad and pasta bowls are large enough portions for a filling lunch, and perhaps even dinner later. The salad option includes mixed greens and/or romaine with protein, any of the toppings, and dressing options of balsamic vinaigrette, creamy Italian, Caesar, or lemon vinaigrette.
The light, flavorful lemon vinaigrette compliments the moist and well-seasoned chicken, and the chickpeas add a healthy creaminess to the dish. With so many options, it is easy for the toppings to overpower the salad.
The Italio stick, pepperoni and cheese folded in a piadini wrap, is crunchy and slightly greasy, but has a nice spiciness and texture, a great on-the-go snack.
The calamari, served with lemon vinaigrette and a lemon wedge, consists of squid and spicy peppers in a light and crispy herbed breading.
The only dessert offering on the menu is a modern take on an Italian classic, cannoli. Italio’s cannoli chips deconstruct the cannoli into a dip and scoop, using the crushed cannoli shell as a vessel for the cream and chocolate chip cannoli filling. The cannoli shell could be crispier to highlight the contrasting textures, but the dessert is still a satisfying, not-too-sweet treat.
The relaxed atmosphere of Italio blends classic Italian colors like red and beige with modern stainless steel, giving the restaurant a clean, streamlined feel. However, the semi-open kitchen and layout of the dining area echoes and can become quite loud if the restaurant is busy.
It is sometimes difficult to order, and even to have a conversation with the person across the table. There is a patio area for customers to enjoy the sunny days with a variety of tables outside and in: intimate tables for two, family size booths, and large party high tops with stools.
The Winter Park location is open 10:45 a.m. - 10 p.m.