Quick Bites: ‘International Dishes At Affordable Prices’

Not quite in Sumter County, Taverna Red has opened in Baylee Plaza on US Hwy 441 in Summerfield where Isabella’s Ristorante used to be. As if owning and running Pasta Faire in Belleview is not enough to keep her busy, Kathy Funk had a calling to open another eatery down the road with long-time business partner Paul D’Alto.

The entire unit was remodeled by Jay Reeves, a Gainesville architect who specializes in rehabilitation and restoration work, including big projects such as The Swamp Restaurant, the D’Acosta House, and Plaza Royale. Murals of monasterial wine cellars, courtesy of local artist Ed Graves, cover the walls.

The restaurant is over 3,000 square feet and features plush, high-back booths. A long table with over 20 seats, which Kathy calls “the community table,” is in the center of the restaurant. It’s for those who don’t mind sitting down with strangers and walking away with new friends. A covered outdoor area of about 1,200 square feet has tables and chairs, an outdoor bar, TVs, and a fireplace.

But Kathy is a little worried about first impressions.

“I don’t want people to think that the food is expensive because the interior looks it,” she says. “I’ve worked hard to offer international dishes at very affordable prices.”

Something else she has done is offer a small-plate section on her menu in place of appetizers.

“It’s not your typical cheese sticks and nachos,” she explains. “I’m offering hearty samples to share with a friend instead of an entrée.”

The menu also includes artisan sandwiches, burgers, soups, salads, and wood-oven flatbreads, as well as fire-roasted vegetables, lamb, salmon, and steaks.

Taverna Red has a full bar and happy hour, so be sure to try the three-ounce wine samples. For more information, call (352) 693-2008.

In Clermont, The Latin Deli, on SR 50 across from Clermont Fire Station No. 1,
is expanding its menu. Chef Santiago and Chef Larry are designing Latin fusion dishes including mofongos (a dish made from mashed plantains, broth, garlic, olive oil, and meat or vegetables), conch, red snapper, octopus, and crab cakes wrapped in Serrano ham.

Santiago, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Orlando and a musician, has been in the restaurant business since he was a child. His enthusiasm for food and the way he described his dishes was intriguing. An empanada filled with lasagna? Delicious. The crab cakes? Very crabby, hardly any filler. The espresso? Thick, sweet, and creamy. The lamb? No gamey taste, thanks to a spice he uses.

Although seating is limited, the Latin Deli is a must-visit. Enjoy items from their hot bar or call ahead for takeout. Catering is the specialty. Pick up a bagged dinner for the family or have them deliver, setup, and serve any size function. Call (352) 243-9277.

Nibbles:Golden Corral opened its doors in Clermont—finally!—in March. Owner Eric Holm, who has been with the company for 15 years and has 27 stores total, has been named “Franchisee of the Year” by the Golden Corral Corporation several times during his time with the company. He says this is his first franchise in Lake County.

The first week, 18,000 anxious diners walked through the doors. More spacious than most Golden Corrals, this one is 12,500 square feet and has a bigger bakery, additional seating, and more features like the Pagoda Station that offers Asian-style food every day. Located on the corner of Grand Highway and SR 50, the restaurant’snumber is (352) 404-6985.

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