Orlando Magical Dining Month 2019 – Ravello and Reyes Mezcaleria

It’s almost September, and that means even the most hermetic Orlandoans emerge from their kitchens and grills to dine out. For more than a month starting August 23, 120+ restaurants will offer three-course dinners – with options – for $35. It’s all part of Orlando Magical DIning Month 2019. Perk: Part of what you pay will make its way to this year’s local charity.

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Both through Visit Orlando, which runs this program, and on their own, participating restaurants host restaurant journalists and food bloggers to try out their Magical Dining Month 2019 menus. I attended two dinners, and I can honestly say both are spectacular values for $35. Each had a weak link or two but most of the food was phenomenal, and portion sizes were generous. Here are details on each, told in my famously forgettable photos.

Orlando Magical Dining Month 2019 – Reyes Mezcaleria

Chef Wendy Lopez leapt from Tapa Toro to Reyes Mezcaleria recently, and what a boon that was for those of us who adore Mexican fare. Lopez has an infectious enthusiasm, and somehow her bubbly personality shakes into her food, whether it’s Spanish, like before, or from her native Mexico, as now. I’d say that all six of her savory Magical Dining Menu foods were terrific. Here’s what she’s offering, along with three desserts by the pastry chef.

Reyes Mezcaleria – Peach Mollette. It’s grilled rustic bread with a spread of utlra-fresh queso fresco and topped with grilled peaches, mint and radish. Also: Instagrammable if you’re good with a camera.

Reyes Mezcaleria – Peach Mollette. It’s grilled rustic bread with a spread of utlra-fresh queso fresco and topped with grilled peaches, mint and radish. Also: Instagrammable if you’re good with a camera.

Reyes Mezcaleria – Arctic Char Aguachile. Essentially, this fish dish tastes like a good smoked salmon. It’s served with pineapple aguachile – kind of a refreshing marinade, as well as puffed quinoa, avocado, red onion and serrano pepper.

Reyes Mezcaleria – Arctic Char Aguachile. Essentially, this fish dish tastes like a good smoked salmon. It’s served with pineapple aguachile – kind of a refreshing marinade, as well as puffed quinoa, avocado, red onion and serrano pepper.

Reyes Mezcaleria – So this is why experts tell me not to use a flash for food photos. This baby is a beauty in person. It’s Barbacoa Tostada, a mix of beef brisket, salsa roja (red sauce), pickled red onions and cohita cheese on a crisped tortilla.

Reyes Mezcaleria – So this is why experts tell me not to use a flash for food photos. This baby is a beauty in person. It’s Barbacoa Tostada, a mix of beef brisket, salsa roja (red sauce), pickled red onions and cohita cheese on a crisped tortilla.

Reyes Mezcaleria – Churrasco Steak. This is grilled Latin American steak in fine, fine form – so good that every time I took another slice I’d get the evil eye from otherwise friendly co-diners. There wasn’t enough for us to eat hearty portions, and we all loved it so much we kept refilling our plates with little slices so as not to finish it up. Here the grilled skirt steak is served with “pipian” verde sauce (pumpkin seeds!) along with charred green beans (also delicious) and pickled red onion.

Reyes Mezcaleria – Churrasco Steak. This is grilled Latin American steak in fine, fine form – so good that every time I took another slice I’d get the evil eye from otherwise friendly co-diners. There wasn’t enough for us to eat hearty portions, and we all loved it so much we kept refilling our plates with little slices so as not to finish it up. Here the grilled skirt steak is served with “pipian” verde sauce (pumpkin seeds!) along with charred green beans (also delicious) and pickled red onion.

Reyes Mezcaleria – Grilled Pork Chop. The pork with a peanut mole sauce was pretty popular too, as were the roasted cauliflower and baby carrots. I had to sneak more and more of those onto my plate too without looking piggy.

Reyes Mezcaleria – Grilled Pork Chop. The pork with a peanut mole sauce was pretty popular too, as were the roasted cauliflower and baby carrots. I had to sneak more and more of those onto my plate too without looking piggy.

Reyes Mezcaleria – We lucked out having swordfish during our Orlando Magical Dining Month 2019 preview, but you prob can’t go wrong. The Local Catch option is the day’s white fish, pan-seared, with sweet corn puree and a rainbow cauliflower-caper-salsa.

Reyes Mezcaleria – We lucked out having swordfish during our Orlando Magical Dining Month 2019 preview, but you prob can’t go wrong. The Local Catch option is the day’s white fish, pan-seared, with sweet corn puree and a rainbow cauliflower-caper-salsa.

And, three desserts, all good: L-R Mexican opera cake, guera cake (like tres leches), and churros with berry compote and a caramel sauce I could eat by the pint with a spoon.

Orlando Magical Dining Month 2019 – Ravello

I feel like Ravello is my secret Orlando Italian restaurant. It’s in the Four Seasons hotel, so folks figure it’s too expensive. Honestly you can have a splendid meal here for no more than the area’s other higher-end Italian restaurants. Maybe it’s because the hotel’s executive chef, Fabrizio Schendardi, is from Italy, but whatever the reason this is worth a trip into Disney World’s Golden Oak neighborhood.

But three courses for $35? Only during Orlando Magical Dining Month 2019, my dears.

Actually, Ravello was clever. It offers two or three regular options for appetizer, entree and dessert on its Magical Dining Month menu and then gives you the chance to upgrade. For example, you can pay $25 more for a veal entree that sounds worth the extra euros, or add on a pizza course for $15.

Here’s what comes standard.

Ravello – Bruchetta Albese. Country bread topped with beef tenderloin, truffle aioli, lemon and parmesan. It’s a meal, really. Gobble, then pack the rest to go.

Ravello – Bruchetta Albese. Country bread topped with beef tenderloin, truffle aioli, lemon and parmesan. It’s a meal, really. Gobble, then pack the rest to go.

Ravello – Arancini. Crispy risotto balls atop a pomodoro sauce with mozzarella and tomato. It was nice enough, but I wouldn’t choose it over the other foods offered.

Ravello – Arancini. Crispy risotto balls atop a pomodoro sauce with mozzarella and tomato. It was nice enough, but I wouldn’t choose it over the other foods offered.

Ravello –Cernia. Oil-poached local snapper on a saffron risotto cake with lemon and fresh herbs. Now here’s a meal. Splendid. Just splendid.

Ravello –Cernia. Oil-poached local snapper on a saffron risotto cake with lemon and fresh herbs. Now here’s a meal. Splendid. Just splendid.

Ravello – See that plate smack in the middle? That’s Chicken Saltimbocca, and I ate probably a whole plate of it even though we were sharing family-style. I just somehow never took an individual picture. It’s chicken breast with prosciutto and sage, plus a white wine sauce. You’d think food doesn’t get any better than that, yet these brilliants chefs serve it with golden sage-garlic potatoes. This with an appetizer and dessert? #worth$35

Ravello – See that plate smack in the middle? That’s Chicken Saltimbocca, and I ate probably a whole plate of it even though we were sharing family-style. I just somehow never took an individual picture. It’s chicken breast with prosciutto and sage, plus a white wine sauce. You’d think food doesn’t get any better than that, yet these brilliants chefs serve it with golden sage-garlic potatoes. This with an appetizer and dessert? #worth$35

Ravello – Orecchiette. Ear-shaped semolina pasta with ricotta salata, broccili rabe and roasted peppers. Perfectly perfect, but not when you can have the chicken saltimbocca or oil-pached snapper instead.

Ravello – Orecchiette. Ear-shaped semolina pasta with ricotta salata, broccili rabe and roasted peppers. Perfectly perfect, but not when you can have the chicken saltimbocca or oil-pached snapper instead.

Both desserts were excellent. Here you see Torta Degli Angeli Con Fragole on theleft; it’s like an Italian strawberry shortcake, and I mean that in a good way. On the right, that’s Semifreddo Alle Nocciole, a chilled dessert with hazelnuts and sea salt caramel. I think I liked that one even better, but I did finish off every bit of my strawberry torta.

Orlando Magical Dining Month 2019 – Two Teasers

So there you have it: Orlando Magical Dining Month 2019 at Reyes Mezcaleria and Ravello. I honesty recommend both. But look at what else you have to choose from! (Click here for a legible version.)

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It’s time to start booking tables, my food-loving friends.

Please leave comments about each restaurant you visit below, good and bad, to help other readers. Visit here for every restaurant, every neighborhood and every menu.