Cafe Murano in Altamonte Springs sits between the mall and the popular Crane’s Roost Park and has been a local hangout for years. Just before the Christmas holiday, a second location was opened in the Veranda Park complex in Metrowest. The location is tricky. It sits off the busy Hiawassee Road and is fairly hidden from the shoppers of Metrowest Village. This is the third restaurant for this location in 6 years, the first being Dan Marino’s Tavern on the Lake. When Dan Marino’s closed, the restaurant was remodeled and opened without the Marino name- just called Tavern on the Lake. I ate at both of these restaurants and I thought the food was great. Hopefully, Cafe Murano won’t end up as just another memory of what was once a thriving area for nightlife (anyone remember those nightclubs that were briefly opened along the back strip there? Ya- most people don’t.)
Not a fine-dining spot but a huge step above the chain outlets of Olive Garden and Carrabba’s, Cafe Murano offers a menu of Italian fare ranging from the simple Fettuccini Alfredo to the more complex Osso Bucco Ravioli. The lunch menu also offers lighter fare choices like a half sandwich, pizza or pasta with a soup or a salad.
I visited Cafe Murano with my Dad in the early afternoon, before the business crowd left their offices for lunch so we had the place to ourselves at first.
We were brought bread and dipping oil almost immediately, however, we were pretty hungry so we ordered the Zucchini Fritta appetizer. Small strips of zucchini lightly breaded and fried served with marinara sauce and a lemon. We both liked it and were off to a great start.
My Dad ordered the Penne Vodka- “Penne pasta sauteed with pancetta in a pink vodka sauce” reads the menu. Well, there was nothing “pink” about his sauce- he even made a comment of the bright Velveeta orange color. Definitely looked more like a cheese sauce than a light tomato-based variety. However, while it loooked rather unappetizing, he seemed to like it enough though he didn’t rave about it.
I ordered the Eggplant al Forno- “Layered with ricotta cheese, fresh spinach and marinara sauce, baked with mozzarella cheese and served with capellini pasta.” I was able to make one small change- I asked for a lemon butter sauce on my capellini instead of the usual marinara sauce and it was no problem. My eggplant was pretty good, almost like an eggplant roll stuffed with cheese. And while most people would probably complain about the small size, I thought it was a perfect portion for lunch. As a matter of fact, I ended up taking almost half of it home with me so maybe it was bigger than I had thought.
As our lunch was winding down, there were a number of other patrons in the restaurant, though probably not as many as there should be during a weekday lunch in the middle of an office park. I hope the community catches onto this place, despite the bright glow in the dark pasta sauce, we both liked the restaurant, but it wasn’t anything special we would go out of our way for.