The dynamic trio has done it again.
In 2011, Loren Falsone, Tyler Brassil and Dominick Tardugno brought us The Table Orlando, a wonderful supper club on Restaurant Row.
Now they've created another winner: The Pharmacy, an eatery and bar with a speak-easy theme hidden amid the glare of neon that illuminates Sand Lake Road in Orlando.
And I mean hidden. There's no sign on the restaurant's door in an unassuming exterior hallway in the Dellagio complex, just across from Regions Bank. Look for the unmarked retro elevator door, push the button on the wall and — whoosh — the doors slide back to reveal the best little hideaway in town.
A small bar wraps the center of the L-shaped room, and wooden tables take up the rest of the space. The lighting is appropriately subdued in keeping with the speak-easy theme. With high ceilings and compact space the noise level increases during the course of an evening, but it's a pleasant combination of clinking glasses, plates, laughter and conversation.
Chefs Brassil and Falsone are a husband-and-wife team from Rhode Island who have made many appearances at New York's James Beard House. Falsone is a former Seasons 52 executive chef and was one of Food & Wine's top 10 new chefs in 2000. Tardugno oversees the wines and creative elixirs that come from the bar. Those distinctions aside, this is a team effort.
Once seated, take a look at the drink menu. These are not run-of-the-mill beverages. The Pharmacy specializes in house-made bitters, artisan tonics and sodas for craft cocktails. We started with an airmail ($12), an effervescent blend of Cana Brava rum, lemon, simple syrup and sparkling wine. The citrus is nicely restrained, creating a refreshing aperitif. The proper ($12) — Mount Gay Eclipse rum, 44 North vodka, house-made tonic and lime — was a swell sipper with a bit more kick on the finish. The bar also is well-stocked with small-batch spirits.
The Prince Edward lsland steamed mussels ($20) with shaved fennel, crème fraiche and pernod paired well with our libations. The shellfish were plump and clean-flavored. Order the beaker of gremolata hand-cut French fries ($8) with spicy mayo and house-made ketchup. The fries are fab on their own and also perfect for sopping up the broth left in the bowl of mussels.
Our juicy double-cut brined pork chop ($24) was a spot-on medium, and the Tallahassee double corn grits and pork-belly collards on the side were simply sublime. I am not sure I can have collards any other way from now on.
The tagliatelle Bolognese ($18) was a hefty serving of ribbons of tender pasta created with local eggs and tossed in an earthy meat sauce and freshly shaved Parmesan.
The Pharmacy is just the prescription this side of town needed for those seeking innovative food and drink with a commitment to farm-to-table fare and artisan techniques.
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Where: 8060 Via Dellagio Way, Orlando (There is no sign on the door. Look for the unmarked retro elevator door in the open hallway across from Regions Bank. Press the button and you are in.)
When: 5 p.m.-1:00 a.m. Monday-Saturday
How much: $8-$28
Beverages: Full bar
Wines by the glass: From $10
Extras: Good for groups, table service, signature cocktails, takeout
Wheelchair access: Easy
Noise level: Moderate to loud
Credit: American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
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Diningon a budget
The Neapolitan pizzas ($15) are a great choice for budget-conscious diners.