Four Stars for Italian eatery

Silvestro's shines in Lake Mary

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Silvestro Antonioli holds some of the fresh pasta he makes at his restaurant Silvestro's in Lake Mary. (Jacob Langston/Orlando Sentinel) (Jacob Langston, Orlando Sentinel / September 30, 2009)

Silvestro's in Lake Mary had me even before the food came to the table. The service was top-notch from the moment the water glasses were filled. Service is just one ingredient a restaurant cannot take for granted. You can have great culinary talent in the kitchen, and a poorly-trained wait staff can quickly dilute those efforts.

Our waiter on both visits was knowledgeable about the intricacies of the menu and coached our selections from the wine list. He also had the fine-dining knack of stealth attentiveness. He anticipated our needs but did not hover, allowing guests to enjoy an evening out.

This is the second location for Silvestro's in Central Florida. The restaurant has a loyal following in Cocoa Beach, and chef-owner Silvestro Antonioli has years of experience in Italian fine dining.

The new Lake Mary restaurant is a mix of dark wood tables and bold, red comfy booths. A full bar runs the length of the front dining room.

Some appetizers are decadently rich. So tread lightly or order creatively if you want to enjoy a multi-course meal.

For example, the lobster ravioli ($11.95) is a meal when paired with the caprese salad ($8.95). The caprese's creamy mozzarella, thick tomato slices and fresh basil balance out the sweetness of the pasta's shellfish stuffing and the richness of its creamy, pink Spumante sauce.

The plump mussels, ($11.95) served in a sharp homemade tomato sauce, and the bruschetta ($8.95) is another good pairing.

For entrees, lasagna Silvestro's ($16.95) is a benchmark of sorts for the authenticity and talent in the kitchen. The simple dish rises with complex layers of meat, sauce, fresh pasta and cheese and then is topped off with a beautiful béchamel sauce.

Another triumph is the veal scaloppine with lemon ($23.95). The citrus and white wine sauce had clearly defined flavor notes and an unmistakable freshness.

Lemon was a reoccurring theme in the branzino ($26.95) as well. The pan-seared Chilean sea bass was elegantly cooked with white wine and a judicious spritz of the tart fruit.

Desserts here, while pricey, are fabulous — and well worth a few more rounds on the treadmill.

The tiramisu ($9.95) has all the traditional elements — espresso-soaked ladyfingers, mascarpone cheese, cocoa powder. But it's the right balance of these ingredients that makes Silvestro's interpretation something special.

The almond liqueur-laced ricotta cheesecake ($9.95) could win a couple rounds against a New York-style cheesecake. Indeed, both are different styles of the genre, but this ricotta number has luscious mouth feel usually found in creamier cheesecakes.

Chocolate lovers can't miss with the torta al cioccolato ($9.95). It's a thick, fudgey wedge of Godiva chocolate garnished with fruit and roasted pistachios. Oh, my.

Food Editor Heather McPherson can be reached at 407-420-5498 or

The dish on dining: Silvestro's Authentic Italian Cuisine


Where: 7025 County Road 46A, Suite 1011, Lake Mary (in the Park Place Plaza at International Parkway, near the Marriott Hotel).

When: 5-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 5-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; bar open to 2 a.m. nightly.

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