Big Italy, a new Italian restaurant located at the corner of International Drive and South Kirkman Road, opened for business on Friday, June 15. It is the first Italian restaurant in the country to offer more than 100 different pizzas and more than 50 pasta dishes, all with an authentic and fresh Italian flair.
Big Italy’s wide-variety of scrumptious dishes are inspired by Michelangelo Montesanti’s family restaurant in Capena, Italy. Big Italy will boast the same charming, local feel that only an independently-owned restaurant can bring. The restaurant’s pizzas are thin-crust, as the Roman tradition demands, and are baked in a wood fired oven to give them the distinct taste and aroma found in an authentic Italian eatery. Succulent pasta dishes are served in generous portions and will satisfy the most discerning palates.
The inspiration for Big Italy began more than two decades ago in a small town in Italy called Capena, located on the outskirts of Rome, where the Montesantis owned a small, family restaurant. They served a variety of pizza and pasta dishes based on local recipes, each made with high-quality, hand-picked fresh produce and featuring homemade sauces.
The family-owned business became a success and a “must” place for families to dine. Twenty years later, Michelangelo Montesanti teamed up with his friends, Marco Marzocca, famed Italian television and screen actor and comedian, and Paulo Simoes, former executive for Sony Pictures Releasing, a major film distribution company, to bring secret family recipes to the United States through the newly minted Big Italy restaurant.
“Big Italy has given us the opportunity to bring our passion for Italian food to Orlando for locals and tourists alike, said Paulo Simoes, co-owner of Big Italy. “We’re proud to offer great authentic food, big portions and more menu options to choose from than any other Italian restaurant in the country.”
Big Italy is more than pizza and pasta; it also offers a variety of antipasti, bruschetta, salads and gelatos, as well as a full bar and Italian wine list hand selected by sommelier Pierluigi Gaeta. The friendly and relaxed atmosphere and delicious dishes make for an authentic and unforgettable Italian dining experience.
“Our restaurant is an informal, fun and authentic place to eat and drink,” said Montesanti, co-owner of Big Italy. “It’s a contemporary take on my family recipes, all made with the freshest ingredients and homemade secrets.”
The restaurant seats 133 people in the main dining room with an additional 20 seats at the bar, as well as a 25 seat private room for parties, meetings and events. Big Italy also has an outside dining patio that seats 60.
Big Italy also features 10 television monitors, with four dedicated to the bar area alone for patrons to watch sporting events. The other six televisions are located strategically around the restaurant and will have Italian trivia flashing on the screen with fun facts such as Italian gestures, Italian words, recipes and facts about the country.
“We want our patrons to leave the restaurant feeling like they just dined in Italy,” said Marco Marzocca, co-owner of Big Italy. “I used to travel 40 minutes each way to get to Michelangelo’s restaurant because the food was so delicious, and we are proud to bring that same great flavor and authentic dining experience to Orlando through Big Italy.”
Big Italy is open daily for lunch and dinner, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. An all-you-can-eat lunch special includes a wide variety of Big Italy’s appetizing thin-crust, Roman-style pizzas and mouthwatering pasta dishes, as well as a salad bar and mini dessert, served at the table by Big Italy’s friendly staff. The lunch special is $15 for adults and $8 for kids. Much like a Brazilian Steakhouse, patrons leave a card green side up on the table during lunch, and the wait staff will continue to bring scrumptious dishes for them to try, all for the very reasonable fixed-lunch price.
The full dinner menu includes more than 100 pizzas and 50 pasta dishes, plus antipasti and appetizer dishes, salad bar and fish and steak entrees. Dinner ranges from $7-$26 per person.
Big Italy will also offer Big Italy Express, a separate dining counter that features Panini sandwiches and pizza-by-the-slice for diners who are on the go and need to grab lunch in a hurry. Big Italy Express will also sell some of the local ingredients used in its dishes, such as olive oil, jams, pastas and even Italian wine from its impressive wine list.
Big Italy is located near popular tourist sites in Orlando, including Universal Studios, Wet n’ Wild water park and Prime Outlets.
Big Italy’s Authentic Italian Cuisine
Big Italy’s antipasti and appetizers include selections like Fritto Misto (mixed fried eggplant, zucchini, carrots and broccoli florets, dipped in batter and fried to perfection), Arancini and Crocchette (arborio rice balls and golden mashed potato rolls; each item is breaded and features a melted, mozzarella center) and Gamberi Mediterraneo (mediterranean-style black tiger shrimp, grilled butter basted, served with homemade sauce.) There are many other appetizer dishes to choose from as well.
For insalate (salads), there is a delicious, fresh salad bar full of a wide variety of fresh mixed greens, garden fresh vegetables, toppings and dressings.
Big Italy also has “Our Family’s Favorite Pizzas” section of the menu, which includes delicious and authentic pizza, such as the classic Margherita pizza (fresh mozzarella and basil leaves on homemade tomato sauce), as well as Capena (buffalo mozzarella, mushrooms and sausage), Argentario pizza (fresh mozzarella, Italian blue cheese, pine nuts and parmesan cheese) and Brazilian pizza (grilled chicken, catupiry cheese and green olives). The menu also offers 97 other scrumptious pizzas to choose from.
Some of Big Italy’s “Our Family Favorite Pasta Dishes” include Rigatoni Brocolli e Salsiccia (broccoli, sausage and garlic), Linguine Frutti di Mare (cherry tomatoes, clams, mussels, shrimp, octopus, calamari and parsley), Fettuccine Gorgonzola e Radicchio (cream, gorgonzola cheese and radicchio) and Penne Romana (fresh mozzarella, garlic, cherry tomatoes and fresh basil).
The menu also offers a few, exceptional carne e pesce (fish and steak) dishes to enjoy, such as Salmone Aspargai (ocean fresh salmon filet with lemon ber-blanc sauce and fresh asparagus), as well as Tagliata Gorgonzola (12 oz. New York strip with gorgonzola cheese, seasoned to perfection and full of flavor).
In addition, the delectable Menu Bambini (kid’s menu) makes it easy for families to dine at Big Italy. Kid’s menu items include 10” pizzas or pasta dishes, macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, chicken fingers and even Big Italy’s infamous hot dog pizza.
Dolci (desserts) include family favorites such as homemade gelato, Pizza Nutella, tiramisu and cheesecake, among other sweet treats.
Big Italy is an authentic, privately owned Italian restaurant with a fun, friendly and informal ambience located at 5700 International Drive in Orlando, FL. Big Italy offers delicious, high-quality dishes with the freshest ingredients at affordable prices. The expansive menu includes more than 100 pizzas and more than 50 pasta dishes, all based on homemade recipes from the Montesanti family restaurant in Capena, Italy. Big Italy is open for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week. For more information or to make a reservation, contact Big Italy at (407) 345-5566 or online at http://www.bigitaly.com.