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FNN Good News & Reviews: Sloppy Joe’s Brings Fun, Unexpected Flavor to Orlando’s Tourist District

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Sloppy Joe's Orlando's menu offers delicious drinks and flavorful entrees, from shrimp to chicken salads to hushpuppies. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – FNN Good News & Reviews had the chance to visit Sloppy Joe’s Restaurant & Bar Orlando at ICON Park on International Drive, which combines the timeless brand born in the Florida Keys and Orlando’s effervescent flair with a splash of tropical chill.

<i>FNN Good News & Reviews</i> co-hosts Mellissa Thomas (left) and Kathleen Michelle interview Sloppy Joe's Restaurant & Bar Orlando Senior Manager DJ Mariello. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

FNN Good News & Reviews co-hosts Mellissa Thomas (left) and Kathleen Michelle interview Sloppy Joe’s Restaurant & Bar Orlando Senior Manager DJ Mariello. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

The vibrant colors meet you at the gate, with high-top tables and chairs that look they were pulled straight off the beach. As you enter the gates, the lower tables offer comfy seats and (thankfully) wide white umbrellas to beat the high noon heat. That tropical chill comes through the music, with reggae legend Bob Marley’s biggest hits, mixed in with other American classics, inviting you inside.

Sloppy Joe's Restaurant & Bar Orlando at ICON Park exterior. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

Sloppy Joe’s Restaurant & Bar Orlando at ICON Park. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

 

The Same…But Different

Sloppy Joe’s Restaurant & Bar Orlando, which opened in December last year, is a slight diversion from its classic Key West counterpart. The original Sloppy Joe’s Key West, which just celebrated its 85th anniversary in early May, got its name as a suggestion. Acclaimed author Ernest Hemingway, who frequented the establishment, noticed that Joe Russell’s saloon always looked, well, sloppy–and recommended that he change name the place Sloppy Joe’s.

The name stuck…and the rest is history.

By contrast, Sloppy Joe’s Restaurant & Bar Orlando is quite neat and looks more like a tropical sports bar than a saloon. The restaurant also encourages families to come and have a blast together.

Sloppy Joe's Restaurant & Bar Orlando's interior bar. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

Sloppy Joe’s Restaurant & Bar Orlando’s interior bar. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

Sloppy Joe's Restaurant & Bar Orlando interior. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

Sloppy Joe’s Restaurant & Bar Orlando interior. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

Sloppy Joe's Restaurant & Bar Orlando has an interior stage and offers live entertainment on the weekends. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

Sloppy Joe’s Restaurant & Bar Orlando has an interior stage and offers live entertainment on the weekends. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

 

Fun fact: Sloppy Joe’s Restaurant & Bar Orlando has welcoming and courteous staff ready to help newcomers pick the best choices from their massive menu.

Sloppy Joe's Restaurant & Bar Orlando Senior Manager DJ Mariello welcomes guests and families for a great and delicious experience. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

Sloppy Joe’s Restaurant & Bar Orlando Senior Manager DJ Mariello welcomes guests and families for a great and delicious experience. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

 

Want a way to remember the experience? Sloppy Joe’s Restaurant & Bar Orlando has its own merchandise shop.

Sloppy Joe's Restaurant & Bar Orlando merchandise shop. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

Sloppy Joe’s Restaurant & Bar Orlando merchandise shop. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

 

Surprising Flavors

Sloppy Joe’s Restaurant & Bar Orlando offers an exotic menu with foods and flavors that surprise many who try it. Unlike its Florida Keys predecessor, Sloppy Joe’s Restaurant & Bar Orlando offers an array of vibrant seafood options, and is currently the only seafood restaurant at ICON Park.

Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

“Sloppy Joe’s is known for its parties, but the reason people keep coming back is because of the food,” said David Manuchia, president of Restaurant Partners, Inc. “Our Orlando and Daytona Beach locations bring all the same fun as the original concept, but in a family-friendly atmosphere that focuses on the great eats.”

Some seafood options include the Firecracker Shrimp and Conch Fritter appetizers which totally bring the heat. The hand battered conch nuggets come served with spicy remoulade and the crispy shrimp are tossed in a spicy firecracker sauce.

Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

For those who like strong (and tasty) drinks, Sloppy Joe’s Restaurant & Bar Orlando offers some fun originals as well as bar staples, like the 7 Day Vacation, a fruity drink mixed with several different spirits, and the Sloppy Rita, respectively.

Sloppy Joe's Restaurant & Bar Orlando's 7 Day Vacation (left) and the Sloppy Rita. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

Sloppy Joe’s Restaurant & Bar Orlando’s 7 Day Vacation (left) and the Sloppy Rita. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

 

Prefer beer? There’s plenty where that came from.

Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

“Delicious, fun, and a great atmosphere!” praised Kathleen Michelle, co-host of FNN Good News & Reviews. “If you’re looking for tasty appetizers, refreshing drinks and a large menu selection, check out Sloppy Joe’s.”

All in all, Sloppy Joe’s Restaurant & Bar Orlando is fusion done right. We give it a 5 out 5. Learn more and check out their menu here.

Know a business that we should spotlight or a book or movie we should review? Email social@floridanationalnews.com.

_______________________________________________

Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. | mellissa.thomas@floridanationalnews.com

FNN Good News & Reviews

FNN Good News & Reviews: Mandola’s Italian Kitchen Opens Third Florida Location in Oldsmar

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Mandola's Italian Kitchen opened its third Florida location in Oldsmar. Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News,
Mandola's Italian Kitchen opened its third location in Oldsmar, in the Tampa Bay area. Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News

Modeled after an Italian marketplace, Mandola’s Italian Kitchen brings its quick service concept to Oldsmar. Named after famed restaurateur Damian Mandola, who founded Carrabba’s with his nephew Johnny Carrabba, the restaurant’s third Florida location is also co-owned by Paul Avery, the former Chief Operating Officer of Outback Steakhouse.

“While in New York or in the North End of Boston or Providence, Rhode Island, I would go to the Italian areas,” Mandola said. “You have the bakery or you have the gelateria or the cafe, or the deli with all the food products and the cheeses and olive oil and things like that.”

Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News.
Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News.

Mandola, who admits his passion lies in the cooking process and fresh ingredients, while Avery is the business mastermind, felt the need to put all of those Italian staples under one roof, so he and his wife opened their first Mandola’s in Austin, TX in 2006. The concept grew rapidly and quickly moved into Florida with its first location in Riverview in 2001 and Carrollwood shortly thereafter.

Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News.
Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News.

Guests enter Mandola’s and walk right up to the counter to order where they are greeted by friendly staff who are ready to take them on a culinary journey their taste buds won’t forget. Food is cooked fresh in an open kitchen using the best ingredients and pasta al dente just like Mama Mandola would have prepared it.

The vibrant dining room adorned with red and green chairs, flags from the ceiling, and walls adorned with family photos is a welcome calling. Moments after we were seated, fresh focaccia bread with olive oil and spices for dipping arrived at the table.

Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News.
Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News.

Our table ordered the fried mozzarella for the antipasti course. Golden brown triangles with oodles of gooey mozzarella and the best tomato sauce I’ve ever had.

Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News.
Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News.

For dinner, we feasted on traditional favorites: eggplant parmigiana with spaghetti and marinara sauce and chicken parmesan served with fettuccine Alfredo. Equally delicious and the portion size left us with barely any room for dessert!

Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News.
Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News.

“A lot of these are Mama Mandola’s recipes,” he said. “Chicken parmesan is our favorite and our biggest seller. For me, my favorite is my mom’s spaghetti and meatballs. It reminds me of Sundays at my mom’s and we had all the family together.”

No matter what you are in the mood for, the menu features a plethora of salads (with homemade dressing) antipasti, pizza, pasta, and chicken dishes like chicken marsala with a wine reduction from the Lombardi Family in Sicily, as well as daily specials like linguine with clam sauce, and brasato, beef short rib, slow-braised with red wine, aromatic vegetables, and fresh herbs.

Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News.

Thirsty? No worries. In addition to traditional Italian sodas, sparkling waters, and soft drinks, Mandola’s also offers beer, wine on tap, and specialty drinks such as sangria, bellinis, frose, mimosas, and spritz from the bar.

If we could offer one very valuable piece of advice, it is to save room for dessert! The bakery is a can’t-miss at Mandola’s, with fresh pastries made daily including Italian cookies like lemon ricotta, famous cannolis, specialty cakes, tiramisu, and who could forget sorbetto and gelato?

My guest and I couldn’t decide on one flavor each, so we went with a combo of lemon and raspberry, and almond with cookies and cream. Let’s just say we both agreed it was as good as the ones we enjoyed in Italy.

Mandola’s Italian Kitchen is located at 3138 Tampa Rd, Oldsmar, FL, and is open for lunch and dinner and plans to open future locations in nearby Odessa, Orlando, and Jacksonville as well.

The restaurant is perfect for a family dinner, or date night, or if you want to stop in and grab a coffee and dessert that’s an excellent idea as well!

 

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FNN Good News & Reviews

FNN Good News & Reviews: Welcome to Dezerland Action Park Orlando, Florida’s Biggest Indoor Entertainment Complex

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Dezerland Park Orlando's Auto Museum showcases owner Mike Dezer's extensive collection of vehicles from all over the world--from Europe to Hollywood. Photo: J. Willie David III / Florida National News.
Dezerland Park Orlando's Auto Museum showcases owner Mike Dezer's extensive collection of vehicles from all over the world--from Europe to Hollywood. Photo: J. Willie David III / Florida National News.

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – In this week’s episode of FNN Good News & Reviews, John Goodman, VP of Sales and Marketing for Dezerland Park Orlando and Dezerland Park Miami, sat down with co-host Mellissa Thomas and shared Dezerland Park Orlando’s origins, its extensive car collection, and why Dezerland Park Orlando is a great attraction for both locals, tourists, and even aspiring small business owners alike.

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FNN Good News & Reviews

FNN Good News & Reviews: Brother Jimmy’s BBQ Brings the South to Your Mouth at ICON Park

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Brother Jimmy's BBQ opened its new location at ICON Park on International Drive in early August. Photo: J. Willie David III / Florida National News.

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – “Put some south in yo’ mouth.”– Brother Jimmy’s BBQ certainly delivers on its motto at ICON Park on International Drive.

The barbecue chain, launched in North Carolina in 1989, opened its new location at ICON Park in early August and opened its doors to the media Wednesday, providing a sample of rich ribs (both sauced and dry rub), pulled pork, mac and cheese, baked beans, cornbread, and tea (sweet and unsweetened).

Photo: J Willie David III / Florida National News.

Photo: J Willie David III / Florida National News.

Photo: J Willie David III / Florida National News.

Photo: J Willie David III / Florida National News.

Photo: J Willie David III / Florida National News.

Photo: J Willie David III / Florida National News.

Photo: J Willie David III / Florida National News.

Photo: J Willie David III / Florida National News.

Photo: J Willie David III / Florida National News.

Photo: J Willie David III / Florida National News.

Photo: J Willie David III / Florida National News.

Photo: J Willie David III / Florida National News.

 

Brother Jimmy’s BBQ cuisine is made fresh in-house, with the butcher chopping, seasoning, smoking and slicing fresh meat before your very eyes. Utensils await diners in tall receptacles on each table, next to a small container showcasing three barbecue sauces: Original, North Carolina, and Chipotle; and in true southern charm, diners can enjoy their drinks in mason jars.

 

 

The 7,200-plus square foot restaurant offers an open, inviting dining experience that lulls you to stay a while. The furniture there was taken directly from the restaurant’s New York location and shows some “personality” in the slight wear of the wood and unique giant metal pig figurines peppering several tables. The restaurant offers its own photo both (and a board close to the main entrance to post the pics for others to see), tons of TV screens to watch whichever game you wish to see, and the whole back half of the establishment is a mini-arcade with pinball, mini basketball, and yes, beer pong. Also, kids eat free at Brother Jimmy’s BBQ with the purchase of one entree.

Looking for some good barbecue in a great atmosphere? Learn more and check out the menu on the Brother Jimmy’s BBQ website.

________________________________________

Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. | mellissa.thomas@floridanationalnews.com

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