Quick Bites: Italiano By Giordano’s

The old Dairy Queen building on 441, across from the Ocala Police Department, has seen its share of tenants since closing years ago. Patrons are hoping the latest establishment, Giordano’s Café, is here to stay.

Giordano’s owner Craig Giordano worked his way up to general manager at Bob Evans in 20 years before deciding he wanted to open his own place.

“I liked Bob Evans and their commitment to excellence when it came to quality and customer service. If there’s anything I’ve brought with me, it’s that,” says Giordano. “This is a family operation and my goal, besides serving good food, is to make anyone that walks in the door feel like family.”

Giordano’s idea became a reality when he met James Hoenstine, a downtown developer who convinced him he could build his dream restaurant. And that he did. The interior is Old World with a faux second story, high ceilings, and heavily timbered walls with rock. The inspiration, Hoenstine says, was Disney’s construction.

The food includes Cubans, Rubens, Phillys, Italian sandwiches, hot and cold subs, soups, salads, and awesome pies, cobblers, and other desserts. Everything is made fresh on the premises. A fryer is nowhere to be found.

Venturing into later hours, Giordano is offering baked Italian dishes such as lasagna and eggplant parmesan. Italian at night in an Old World setting? What could be more romantic?

Until he gets his license, Giordano invites guests to bring their own wine in the evenings. Visit giordanoscafe.com or call (352) 433-2737 for more information or a faxed menu.

Patty and Richard Izdebski are your new hosts of The Mason Jar at On Top of the World. An entrepreneur from New Jersey, Izdebski also owns his own Black Angus cattle company. Much to the delight of local diners, Izdebski kept the comfort dishes the restaurant has always offered and added more.

A buffet is available every first and third Saturday of the month and features meats that may include prime rib, Angus top round, and Chicken Marsala. Seafood may include snow crab legs, stuffed flounder, tilapia, deviled crab, and shrimp. A Sunday Brunch is offered from 10am–2pm with an Angus roast beef carving station and traditional breakfast items, including made-to-order omelets, Danishes, and fruit.

Beer and wine is available and live entertainment is Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. See their menu at themasonjarocala.com or call (352) 629-0527.

Cheney Brothers Food Service Distributing is again donating barbecue chicken dinners for the Law Enforcement Torch Run, which will be held April 28. Dinners for the fundraiser are $5 (drinks extra) from 11am–3pm in the Ocala Police department parking lot. If you’re a restaurateur, inquire about Cheney Brothers servicing your restaurant at (352) 291-7800.

Nibbles:Harvest Market, an awesome sandwich shop and produce store, is off the beaten path on SE 36th Avenue, but well worth a visit. Call (352) 624-2636 for a faxed menu. A new pizzeria, Café Bacci, has come to town. The café opened in the plaza on NE 3rd Street behind Dockside Imports. The owners also own Carmine’s Café, a wonderful Italian restaurant on SR200 in the Kingsland Plaza across from Pine Run. More on these restaurants next issue, but don’t wait! Try them now. A new Thai restaurant has also arrived in town. Exotic Thai is located on Pine Avenue where Ay! Jalisco used to be and should be opening soon. Abbruzzi’s Italian Ice and Subs on the S-curve is now under the new ownership of Bill and Rose Collins and is called Daisy Mae’s. Sadly, Tripps Bar & Grill and El Coco Loco on SR200 have closed.

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