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Little Italy/North End Needed?


Jernigan

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I spent a weekend in San Fran and they have the North Beach there which is the italian area. You can find this in many cities. I think these areas bring a great atmosphere and obviously great food and drink.

What would you guys think about one in Orlando? What would you say is the closest we currently have to it, if anything?

If you could magically build one (even just a street of shoppes) where would you want it? Downtown? If so where, if not, where?

Just a hypothetical post since it's been slow on here..

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Pine Street on the north side of the Plaza would be a nice place. A small area that kind of has that Little Italy feeling but is currently empty. Unfortunately Orlando doesn't have a large Italian population though. I only know one person, Fama, who had a restaurant by the Publix in Williamsburg (near SeaWorld). He's originally from Genova. Great place to eat. Anybody know if he's still there? Would be great if he moved up to Downtown.

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I'm not too keen to the idea of creating a "Little Italy" if one didn't already exist or didn't come about on it's own. Enough of our community is fabricated as is. Traditionally ethnic enclaves are only good if they have authenticity. See Chinatown DC vs. Chinatown NYC, Boston or San Fran. That being said we do have our own little (very little) ethnic enclaves existing or developing throughout the city. Of course there is Little Saigon on Colonial/Mills. To demonstrate my point, years ago the new "Chinatown" plaza opened up on W. Colonial. Despite it's advertising as newer facility with more parking, other than the No. 1 Oriental grocery store, it has struggled to duplicate the success of the Little Saigon area. Other areas include a developing West Indian/Carribean community in West Orange County and of course the Hispanic communities in South Orlando and Kissimmee. But I think the most overlooked and real diamond in the rough is Parramore. This is a community with deep historic roots. I hope the new Arena and city's efforts will return prosperity to this area. It would be a great place to hear Jazz and sample some the best southern cooking and bbq.

However, if we did have a Little Italy, Seminole county tends to have more Italians than the rest of Central Florida from what I've seen. So Uptown Altamonte, Maitland or DT Sanford would be good areas to put one. Sanford would be my first choice. The waterfront there is just so amazing. Altamonte would be great also.

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I spent a weekend in San Fran and they have the North Beach there which is the italian area. You can find this in many cities. I think these areas bring a great atmosphere and obviously great food and drink.

What would you guys think about one in Orlando? What would you say is the closest we currently have to it, if anything?

If you could magically build one (even just a street of shoppes) where would you want it? Downtown? If so where, if not, where?

Just a hypothetical post since it's been slow on here..

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If there isn't an Italian enclave in Orlando by now, there never will be.

Still, if there had traditionally been one around here, it would be cool if it had occurred on the north end of downtown. It would've been nice if there had been dense construction up that way to accomodate it too. Older, more traditional multi-story red brick & brownstone with storefronts & stoops, etc.

That would be a cool thing to have up there now.

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You can't create a "little {country}". It's not a style or plan, but rather a culture. Which is why shopping centers, no matter how authentic they try to create an atmosphere, really only become shopping centers.

You have to work with what you have. "little" places need a dominant culture, but also the ability and drive to open up a lot of independent businesses. And that is a bit of the struggle Orlando faces - it is so geared towards building chains that it misses the independent restaurants. And there is so much focus on creating an environment it is hard to just let it develop naturally.

With such a car based, mobile culture as Orlando has, focus on just creating pockets of culture. Things like Winter Garden and Thorton Park will serve as seeds, and and as more copy that success, these distinct neighborhoods start to take shape.

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speaking of those from brazil, there's a shopping center about a block southeast of wet n' wild (5458 international drive) that's morphed into a "little brazil" of sorts. not only does it have a fantastic bakery with some of the most delicious bread you'll ever eat, there's camilla's, a cafeteria-style buffet next door that erupts with excitement during soccer games. tour guides bring busloads here ... it's a unique area.

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I would say the closest thing right now is in North Downtown, but we already call it Ivanhoe Village / Antique Row. The corner of Orange Avenue by Lake Ivanhoe has 2 Italian restaurants and The Greek Corner. Yeah, one is Greek, but still Mediterranean. The smells that eminate from this little area on Friday evenings is unbelievable. I don't foresee any further expansion of Italian restaurants, butchers, bakers, or grocers in this area, though. I would like to see just one Italian bakery in Orlando like the numerous places in Boston's North End. Does anyone know of one? I remember being teased by a place in Little Saigon called Boston Bakery. I was so excited when their sign went up and then had my dreams crumbled when they opened and there were no fresh canoles. Vietnamese bakers calling themselves Boston Bakery??? Who would've thunk it?

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I would say the closest thing right now is in North Downtown, but we already call it Ivanhoe Village / Antique Row. The corner of Orange Avenue by Lake Ivanhoe has 2 Italian restaurants and The Greek Corner. Yeah, one is Greek, but still Mediterranean. The smells that eminate from this little area on Friday evenings is unbelievable. I don't foresee any further expansion of Italian restaurants, butchers, bakers, or grocers in this area, though. I would like to see just one Italian bakery in Orlando like the numerous places in Boston's North End. Does anyone know of one? I remember being teased by a place in Little Saigon called Boston Bakery. I was so excited when their sign went up and then had my dreams crumbled when they opened and there were no fresh canoles. Vietnamese bakers calling themselves Boston Bakery??? Who would've thunk it?
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Thinking about this topic some more, Thornton Park and downtown Winter Park are our Little Italy's. What makes Little Italy special in San Francisco isn't all of the pizza you can get but rather the variety of different restaurants available with different entree's that each of the restaurants serve under the Italian umbrella. From what I remember in San Francisco, the rest of it's restaurant scene outside of Little Italy was very touristy (ie. Fisherman's Wharf, my wife and I couldn't run away fast enough). Thornton Park and Winter Park is not all Italian, but it does have the strength in restaurants to match up to San Francisco's Little Italy.

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