The Story: Ms. Whiddon from the Zimmerman Agency graciously invited me and fellow food bloggers to the private pre-opening of Siro Urban Italian Kitchen to sip chef-crafted cocktails and local craft beers, get handsy with authentic antipasti and pizza action stations, indulge in a family-style sit down dinner, as well as meet and greet the mastermind behind the mouthwatering menu, Executive Chef Anthony Burdo at Orlando World Center Marriott.
Orlando World Center Marriott is not your ideal walk-in location but since when has the location or distance factored in my quest for discovering restaurants offering delectable food? Moreover, it’s not often that one finds restaurateurs who will open their kitchens to critique; it is a bold move which can swing both ways. Personally to me, it speaks volumes about the confidence and pride the administration feels for their food.
The Scene: Executive Chef Anthony Burdo presents a crafted menu featuring dishes inspired by local fare, as well as plates that boast vibrant flavors, utilize local in-season ingredients and maintain Siro’s philosophy: from farm-to-fork, including but not limited to artisan cured meats and cheeses, small plates and fresh market vegetables.
The Food: We noshed on Antipasti (salumi & cheese) boards cured domestically and sipped on handcrafted Italian classics from the Negroni, Aperol Spritz to the “The Artisan,” Lemoncello Martini, & Aged Italia. Not particularly a cocktail drinker, the Aged Italia with Breckenridge bourbon, blood orange aged balsamic, blackberry syrup made me a convert. Well, did I mention Aged Balsamic? Special mention to Nduja, since the unexpected kick was a reminder of it’s authentic roots. After a few cocktail teasers, I swiftly switched to my choice of liquor, wine. Wine & Italian Cuisine are a match made in heaven.
We were whisked to the kitchen for our starters, such a treat might I add. Artisanal pizzas, Crispy Baby Artichokes and my favorite Burdo’s Famous Veal Meatballs. The decadent meatballs were lightly dressed with Chef Burdo’s grandmother’s Pomodoro recipe. Now that is how a tomato sauce should be: fresh, lightly fragrant, and flavorful. Oh, they were delightful!! The pizzas on the other hand were average at best. Even though fresh and good quality ingredients such as burrata, wild mushrooms etc. adorned the thin crusts, personally they reminded me more of a pie/pastry crust rather than the airy and thin crust topped with a vibrant tomato sauce signature of creditable Neapolitan pizzas.
The sit down meal with emphasis on family style sharing consisted of Ripe Tomatoes, Golden Beets, Eggplant Caponata, Steak Carpaccio, Arboria Fritters, and Big Green Bowl Salad. Followed with Bucatini with Red Lead, Cheese Tortelini, and ending with Pork Belly, Local Daily Catch, Braised Pork Shank, Veal Saltimbocca, and food porn drool worthy Burger.
Equally irresistible was the Eggplant Caponata, delicately sweet, savory, and creamy, complimented by a perfectly toasted in-house crostini. I’d return for just the caponta and a cocktail at Siro’s good-looking bar, where the handcraft cocktails are similarly likable. The first courses such as tender and ripe tomatoes, fresh ricotta, sweet golden beets were a fine illustration of the farm to fork philosophy Siro’s proudly boasts.
The main entrées on the menu are simple yet innovative, inspired by the seasons and the garden’s daily bounty. A refreshing reminder of all the fabulous dining experiences in my numerous travels to Italy, where in-season isn’t merely an option, it’s the way of life. The whole roasted Branzino was lightly dressed, moist, and flaky. Kudos for exceptional cooking!
So many of the dishes at Siro are in the Italian spirit; but I took a double take to see a Burger on the menu. The basic description is no justice to the food porn orgasmic moment you are about to experience. Thick beef patty cooked to perfection (medium-rare) with in-house pickles, encased in OWC bake house bun; oh my! it was ridiculously good.
It’s amazing how a few strong ingredients can come together so seamlessly, as they did with the Bucatini with the Red Lead. A plate of thick spaghetti tossed with a light yet vibrant tomato sauce that gently coated each strand—ingredients of the highest quality, combined with balance and restraint. It’s perhaps the simplest pasta on the menu yet it will have you swooning in utter delight and transport you to Sunday Supper in your grandmother’s kitchen. Pure comfort food, flavors you end up remembering, and craving days later.
Breads, burger bun, pasta, sauces, ice cream, and sorbets to name a few ingredients that are made in-house. These little thoughtful and time-consuming touches take your dining experience to another level. Coupled with professional and attentive service where the staff is fully knowledgeable of their menu, makes one’s dining a wonderful experience.
Everyone loves the idea of a good, neighborhood Italian restaurant, and we all like to believe we have one in our midst. But most often the neighborhood Italian restaurant either use ingredients that are sub-standard, or the cooking is sloppy, or the service is lousy. And just because the owner smiles at you and tries to make you feel at home doesn’t make it a good restaurant. By contrast at Siro, there’s a sense of a playfulness and good spirit. And even if some dishes fall short of others, there’s more than enough to whole-heartily recommend it.
The Dessert menu showcases the standard Italian fare such as Tiramisu, Cannoli, Panna Cotta, Chocolate Cake, and Zeppole. And the winner is Zeppole, ultra-light, airy, piping hot made to order Italian styled donut holes. To add to the decadence they were served with a hazelnut-chocolate dipping sauce. It was a party in my mouth and I couldn’t devour them quick enough. I had to restraint myself from ordering another bag. Yes, they were Ama-zing!
Bottom Line: Executive Chef Burdo and Siro’s mission is refreshingly simple: cook playful and artisanal Italian food that stays close to your heart and roots. And if they keep it up, I guarantee you the crowds will gather.
Reasonable pricing in today’s economy is well received;and a bonus if backed by exceptional cooking. Especially considering the location’s proximity to ‘Disney’, having the option of ending your hectic roll-coaster ridden day with a ‘family style‘ dinner, most importantly with food that tastes as good if not better than ‘home’ is a win-win in my personal opinion.
Special Mention to Mr. Gary Dybul (Director S&M), Doug Rich (GM), Lindsey Smith (Restaurant Mgr), Executive Chef Greg Picard, Executive Pastry Chef Ramon Ramos, and the entire staff of Siro who made the evening delightful and memorable. And a big thank you to Mr. Sayyid (I hope I got the spelling correct) for ensuring that my plate and glass were constantly full.
The early-evening menu, from 4 – 6 pm, features Antipasti, small plates, pizza and blackboard specials, in addition to a full bar. Dinner, from 6 – 11 pm, features a full menu 7 days a week. For additional information on Siro, call Orlando World Center Marriott at 407-239-4200 or visit www.marriottworldcenter.com and www.siroorlando.com.