Buon Appetito at Café Murano
Residents of MetroWest have an Italian neighbor that is neatly tucked between the MetroWest Village and Veranda Park. This neighbor is Café Murano. When you’re in the mood for an authentic Italian meal in a rustic and homey atmosphere, make a turn at the horse fountain on Hiawassee Road; the staff at Café Murano will be quick to welcome you with open arms and true hospitality.
The MetroWest location is the second for the brand “the first has been a staple in the Altamonte Springs community for five years” and it has called the Southwest Orlando area home since December of last year. The draw to MetroWest was the lake, as the popular Altamonte Springs location draws in visitors with a cozy patio overlooking Cranes Roost Lake. In an effort to maintain consistency between the two restaurants, an open-air patio was a necessity and adds an extra touch to the open bar area at the MetroWest location.
Known for the authentic Italian flavors found on the menu and a scratch-made kitchen, Café Murano is a neighborhood gem. The food is top-notch, created by the late Executive Chef John Andrich who spent time in Italy honing his craft before bringing his knowledge to Central Florida. Now, Chef Khai Nguyen has taken on the role of chef at both locations. Trent Warner, general manager for Café Murano, says that since Andrich always stuck with people he knew, Nguyen and the rest of the kitchen staff know the his menu and techniques like the back of their hands. This will ensure the same simplicity and care will be brought to the dishes.
While the atmosphere is casual, the dishes presented are gourmet, yet priced affordably. The menu was also recently re-vamped, cutting it virtually in half. Forty items will rotate weekly, with restaurant favorites remaining on the menu consistently. Regulars will also be able to get their favorite dish even if it isn’t represented on that week’s menu. Warner says Café Murano is known for “great, quality food at a competitive price.”
Starting with the Bruchetta appetizer ($7) is a delight with a mixture of fresh-diced tomatoes, red onions and Parmesan cheese offering a soft texture against the crisp of the crostini. For the entrees, brick oven pizzas are a popular choice with traditional varieties like Margherita ($10 for a 9″, $14 for a 13″) providing a classic flavor profile with Italian pizza sauce, mozzarella, fresh basil and extra virgin olive. The Wild Mushroom Trio ($13 for a 9″, $17 for a 13″) represents the gourmet varieties, and is covered in fontina and provolone cheese; Portobello, shitake and white mushrooms; and spinach.
Sandwiches can be found on both the lunch and the dinner menus. The Roman ($10.50) stacks popular Italian meats like prosciutto di parma, mortadella, salami and spicy cappicola ham with provolone, roasted peppers, arugula and a sweet balsamic reduction on bread that is baked fresh every day. Homemade pastas include the Shrimp Farnesse ($16 individual, $28 family-style), garlic sautéed shrimp, shiitake mushrooms in extra virgin olive oil, fresh arugula, and Italian cheeses tossed with a wide egg noodle. A guest favorite and Café Murano staple is the Lobster and Crab Ravioli ($16 individual, $28 family-style), handmade pockets of pasta filled with a healthy portion of fresh Florida lobster and lump blue crab mixed with ricotta cheese. These raviolis are handmade daily and are served with shiitake mushrooms deglazed with brandy in a rich lobster sauce.
End your meal with traditional Tiramisu ($5.50) or go for the rich Chocolate Lava Cake ($7.50), which is gooey, chocolatey and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Known for its inspired menu and perfectly prepared Italian dishes, Café Murano is also known for having the best happy hour in town. Everything on the menu, including everything behind the full liquor bar, is half off from 4 – 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Saturday. Each Wednesday, Café Murano offers a free bottle of house wine to guests when they purchase two dinner entrees in celebration of Wine Wednesday. Also, every Thursday through Saturday, live acoustic music is presented on the patio while you dine. With holiday season right around the corner, the cozy patio and rustic dining room offer a beautiful environment for a holiday party, whether you’ll be with your co-workers or surrounded by the love of your family.
So next time an Italian craving hits, stop in to Café Murano for those classic flavors. It will become a family favorite.