Florida Life - Dining
Check-in time at hotel restaurants
A look at some of Florida's best dining at Palm Beach's The Breakers, Sarasota's Ritz-Carlton, Orlando Marriott and The Setai Hotel in Miami Beach.
Whatever your concept of an “urban Italian kitchen,” you wouldn’t look for it among the potted palms in the 80-foot atrium of a 3,000-room conventions palace just outside Disney.
Which is the point made by Siro, the sharp new spot that replaced the Ristorante Tuscany in the center of the Orlando Marriott World Center. It’s unexpected, very unexpected.
Surrounded by Florida hotel seashell colors, Siro stands out as a pile of mismatched lumber in orange, white and barnwood salvage. No more high-dollar veal and high-cream pasta. Instead, there’s braised chard, pork belly and a green eggs and ham pizza — or a snack salad of octopus and garbanzo beans.
Siro’s idea of “urban Italian’’ means the rustic fare preferred by rural peasants and now in fashion among big city hipsters from Portland to Brooklyn.
Such change-ups are coming fast in Florida hotels. In the last 30 years, hotel meals have come from last-resort forgettable to first-class creative. Today, big hotels, whether 10 or 100 years old, are dramatically revamping their food line-ups once again — often to be less formal and on rare occasions, more affordable.
Some aim to draw more locals, some to lure new and different guests and some to keep guests in house. Whatever the menu price, hotel kitchens have the big brigades and budgets to afford hand-made techniques and pricey ingredients, local or imported.
Prior to Siro, the Marriott World had a typical mega-hotel menu of 10 restaurants — steak house, Japanese, fancy Italian, Starbucks, sports bar, poolside cafe and so on.
Now chef Anthony Burdo has enlivened that mix by giving Orlando its most contemporary Italian restaurant with tricks from the smartest new places in New York and California: Roasted marrow bones, risotto fritters, red gravy and misshaped arugula malfatti.
Prices are quite friendly for hotels or any foodie destination: Veggie antipastos, from baby artichokes to fennel, are $8; meat and seafood, $11 and $12. Charcuterie is a rare bargain: A $12 board has generous hunks of cheeses and prosciuttos and salamis, including spreadable nduja.