Terramia Wine Bar & Trattoria 

Experienced restaurateurs Rosario Spagnolo and Massimo Nobile return to churn out some damn fine pizzas

TERRAMIA WINE BAR & TRATTORIA

1150 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs | 407-774-8466 | terramiaorlando.com | $$$

When Rosario Spagnolo and partner Massimo Nobile closed their Altamonte Springs Terramia Wine Bar Trattoria back in January with thoughts of opening version 2.0 in a new facility just down the street in May, the expectation was that the new restaurant would mirror the name, feel and offerings of its sister restaurant in Lake Mary – Terramia Brick Oven Pizza. Instead, the name remains the same (save for the ampersand), the feel remains decidedly more refined than the Lake Mary outpost, and the menu is somewhat similar to what version 1.0 offered.

However, there is a brick oven, and it’s used to churn out some damn fine pizzas – pizzas so good, it’s easy to see why the restaurateurs have devoted a good portion of their menu to artisanal pies. From a fiscal perspective, serving pizza di fantasia is economically advantageous to both owner and consumer, and we’ve seen places like Armando’s, Prato, Tartini and Wolfie’s Pizzamia do it right. We can add Terramia to that list.

At the urging of our server, we added cherry tomatoes to our pizza montanara ($14.25), a pie weighted with whole-milk ricotta, organic baby spinach, homemade mozzarella and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano. The crust was especially good – blistered, but with the right amount of give – and the pie held up just fine for breakfast the next day.

Now, I don’t mean to suggest that Terramia’s pizza rules while their antipasti, pasta and secondi are rubbish. Far from it. We enjoyed the gossamer-thin shavings of lemony carpaccio ($10) as much as our pasta dish of choice – tagliolini al nero di seppia ($18), or squid-ink pasta, with shrimp in a scampi sauce. If you’ve never had squid-ink pasta, just know that it’s black in color, with a wonderful briny flavor, and the backsplash has ruined many a white shirt. For secondi we chose the bistecca ($20.95), served with mushrooms and finished in a white wine reduction. It was a special that they had never served before and one, I hope, they don’t serve again, or not before getting a better-quality steak. The fatty, tepid “New York strip” left much to be desired and was upstaged by its side of perfectly cooked pappardelle pasta.

Apart from being a little overzealous about checking in on us, our well-meaning server was eager to please and lobbied hard when it came to dessert selections. We didn’t put up much resistance, and in a matter of minutes, we were cutting into a square of texturally faultless tiramisu ($7), the lone dolci made in-house. I would’ve preferred a bit more coffee in the ladyfingers, but savoring it with a single shot of espresso ($2.50) seemed to do the trick. On hearing the agonized moans from a nearby table when told there were no more profiteroles ($7), we felt privileged to be served the last order. Needless to say, the trio of puffs filled with Chantilly cream and rolled in chocolate was gone in a matter of seconds. Ciao bella.

I’m sure the question most folks will have is how does the new restaurant compare to the old one? In my experience, the old outclassed the new in terms of overall food quality; but then again, the old didn’t serve brick-oven pizzas. Ultimately, the key to the restaurant’s success will be Spagnolo and Nobile – the pair has a culinary pedigree in this city that warrants respect and deference. If any improvements need to be made, you can be sure they’ll make them with gusto.

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