This past Saturday night we cheated on our normal weekly dinner spot to try something new. It’s a restaurant we’ve been passing for months and had on our list to try but never made it in. This weekend the bright red and green neon sign called our names and we headed over to Delmonico’s Italian Steakhouse in Orlando.
The restaurant is located near SeaWorld in a somewhat derelict shopping center where a vacant former Bennigan’s sits just feet away. To be honest, the state of the shopping center, with its tourist-trap, price-gouging liquor store and gas station that charges at least $0.75 per gallon than any other, was one of the reasons we’ve stayed away.
We made a reservation on OpenTable for 8:45pm and arrived on time. When we checked in, we were told they had a table for us outside, or we would wait 15 – 20 minutes for one inside. Not wanting to eat in the outdoors nor wait for a table, we scooped up two freshly vacant seats at the bar instead.
Inside the restaurant, walls are decorated with caricatures of the famous and semi-famous while sounds of Sinatra and the Rat Pack fill the restaurant. The interior reminded me of what the inside of Maggianio’s restaurants looks like, just not as bright. A nod to 90’s décor can be found in the backlight glass dividers between booths.
Back at the large U-shaped bar, we took notice of two table tents advertising some specials that were, well, a damn good deal. Happy Hour at the bar is on every day from open to close here there are appetizer specials starting from $5.99 – $7.99, draft beer specials for $5.55 and wine by the glass for $5.55. There’s also a separate Happy Hour martini menu that features a good selection of $6 martinis. All of these specials are only valid at the bar.
Our bartender came over to introduce herself and took our drink order. I went with the 22oz Blue Moon draft for $5.55 and my husband went with the “Well-Mannered Dirty Martini” with Stolichnaya vodka for $6.
Looking over the Happy Hour appetizer specials we couldn’t decide whether we wanted to try the Mini Italian Meatballs or the Delmonico’s Steak Tips, so we went with the Shrimp Cocktail. Three jumbo shrimp were served with very spicy cocktail sauce. I say “very” spicy, because it was. Plenty of horseradish cleared out my sinuses quickly. The shrimp were cold, firm and a great deal for $5.99.
Next up were the mains. The menu features a wide array of classic Italian pasta and entrees as you would expect from an Italian restaurant as well as steaks. Prices are very reasonable with nothing on the menu over $30.
I decided to go with the Delmonico’s Delmonico – a 24oz Delmonico steak billed as the “best deal in town” for $27. I ordered it medium-rare with a side of hot peppers and grilled onions ($2.99 extra). It came with a (very) small side dish of Penne Marinara and asked for a meatball to be put on top since we skipped out on those meatball appetizers!
The steak was cooked to temperature, had good marbling, was lightly seasoned and was overall a good steak. The peppers and onions had a slight “petroleum” taste to them, almost like Sterno. Not sure where that came from, but the taste was there. The only time the meatball made an appearance was on the bill. It didn’t come with the side of pasta so I asked our server to remove it from the bill.
My husband went with one of the nightly specials that were on a third table tent (they like table tents here, by the way) – a 12oz cold water lobster tail served with Italian Orzo. With him not being a fan of Orzo, he subbed it for a side of the Penne Marinara. The lobster firm and flavorful, but the butter “sauce” it was served with wasn’t a hit. Plain old drawn butter would have been better.
The pasta for both of was was a bit overcooked, it wasn’t al dente as I would have liked it and the marinara sauce wasn’t very flavorful.
The restaurant was packed the entire time we were there and the bar was full. Based on the interaction of diners with servers, it seems they have a loyal group of regulars instead of the tourist trade many restaurants in the area rely upon.
For the price, you can’t beat Delmonico’s Italian Steakhouse. But let’s make it clear, this isn’t the Capital Grill, it’s not Ruth’s Chris, it’s not the mom and pop Italian joint. It is a chain Italian joint but several steps above Olive Garden, but then again, a corner hot dog cart is a step above Olive Garden.
Great value, solid food, even better Happy Hour specials at the bar makes this a place we will probably visit again instead of driving by.
UPDATE: April 10, 2017
On a subsequent visit to Delmonico’s, we once again had a great meal. We shared one of the appetizer specials available only at the bar, the steak tips. A generous portion of steak with sauteed onions and mushrooms served with some garlic bread. A great value for just $5.99!
We tried two different entrees this time around, the first being the Chicken Parm – available with both one or two breaded chicken breasts – served with pasta. The chicken had a very flavorful breading and was moist and tender. This was a large portion, so you may want to go with the one breast, again a good deal on a great meal.
The New York Strip was a hit as well. Ordered medium, it was presented as ordered, flavorful and tender. Paired with a baked potato, this was a very affordable meal for under $30 – about $20 less than what you would pay at a Ruth’s Chris.