I love pretty much all Italian food, but I love it even more when the restaurant can make me crave a dish a week later. That happened after a recent visit to The Meatball Stoppe on the east side of Orlando.
Owner and chef Isabella Morgia di Vicari invited us to join a few other bloggers to check out her menu, and I enjoyed some of her twists on classic Italian dishes.
She wants everyone to feel like “famiglia” so we ate family-style, trying a little of everything and sharing a few dishes.
For appetizers, we tried the Baked Mozzarella (above), topped with tomato sauce, and served in a ramekin with slices of toasted baguette. At $5.25, this is a great starter to a meal here, though you may like it too much to share.
The rest of the table also raved about the Fried Calamari ($6.75), which offered big pieces instead of the normal rings found at most restaurants. One of bloggers even bought another serving to take home.
Then we tried The Meatball Stoppe’s two eggplant dishes. I’ve always been a bit ambivalent about eggplant, but I tried them and was pleasantly surprised. The sandwich version ($8.95), with breaded eggplant, mozzarella, red onions, arugala, and pesto mayo on ciabatta bread was tasty.
But it was the Eggplant Stack ($8.95) that blew me away and was the aforementioned dish I craved. It’s a simple dish: breaded eggplant stacked with imported cheeses and roasted tomato sauce. In my mouth, however, the combo created a delicious flavor fusion that was like a vegetarian lasagna yet slightly different. This one was the big winner of the night with me.
This being the Meatball Stoppe, we of course had to try the meatballs. We tried a trio of them on top of creamy polenta paired with sauces($8.95) – Nonna’s Traditional Italian with roasted tomato, Spicy Pork with spicy pork sauce, and Mac & Cheese with creamy provolone. I did like them all but have to give the nod to Nonna’s meatballs.
We liked Nonna’s so much we also had them in a Meatball Smash ($7.95), served on ciabatta roll. If you’re craving a good meatball sandwich, that’s the one to order.
We also got a side of White Bean Ragout, and I think this was a close second favorite of the meal. It was hearty and I enjoyed the seasoning of the dish. I could just do a bowl of this for a meal.
We wrapped up the tasting with samples of the restaurant’s two desserts. The mini cannoli are done traditional Italian style, with a cinnamon-kissed pasty shell filled with sweet ricotta and a few chocolate bits.
The Sfogliatelli is a flaky pastry stuffed with a lemon-ricotta filling the consistency of a pudding/custard, and served warm and dusted with powdered sugar. It was just the right amount of sweet with a hint of lemon.
Either dessert would be a worthy end to the meal.
Isabella learned her culinary skills in the kitchen of her large Italian family kitchen, and the restaurant menu reflects her heritage and love for the food she serves. You can see her in action on her YouTube Channel.
Or you can visit The Meatball Stoppe yourself for a great homestyle with a twist Italian meal. It’s located at 7325 Lake Underhill Road, in the shopping plaza at the intersection with Goldenrod Road. They are now offering beer and wine for sale with your dine-in meal. You can find directions, a full menu, and more at themeatballstoppe.com.
Disclaimer: I was hosted for the meal, but there is some fine food here and I’ll be back on my own dime. As always, my opinions are my own, and honest.
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