We were looking for something on a Saturday night- nothing fancy, something quick and relatively inexpensive. Chad suggested we visit Italio, a place in Winter Park we have passed numerous times and kept saying “let’s go there someday.” Someday was now.
Italio is a fast casual restaurant with a set up similar to Chipotle. Walk up to the counter, order your base and move down the conveyor belt adding proteins, veggies and toppings. The “base” is your choice of a salad bowl, a pasta bowl or a piada (an Italian term for flatbread).
Chad and I both opted for a whole-grain pasta bowl. Pasta choices are the traditional spaghetti or whole-grain spaghetti. There are no options for penne or the fancy bow-tie pastas. We had the choice to top our pasta with a protein such as meatballs, chicken, sausage, shrimp or veggies.
This is where it got interesting. I was moving down the conveyor belt, adding chickpeas, peppers, onions and alfredo sauce to my pasta. I saw some white beans and asked if they were mixed in a vinaigrette as they appeared so. The girl behind the counter didn’t know and asked her co-worker sitting next to her. She just shrugged, also having no idea. Good to know they were looking out for anyone who may have an allergy.
I also wanted a salad, but apparently you have to ask for a side salad in the beginning of the line. The girl helping me had to ask another employee in the front of the line for a serving bowl and a mixing bowl. I got a salad with Caesar dressing, mushrooms, chickpeas, feta cheese and croutons.
Chad ordered pasta with veggies and the traditional Basil Pomodoro tomato sauce.
He also ordered a salad and once again the girl had to ask another employee for the supplies. Very confusing. Why not keep the serving and mixing bowls by the salad?
The food itself was OK. The pasta was pretty sticky and dry, even with the sauce. However, we paid $28 for the food with both of us having water. Very expensive for pasta. Olive Garden would have been cheaper with unlimited salad, breadsticks and a fancier atmosphere. The salads alone were almost $4 a piece- a crazy price to accompany an $8-9 bowl of pasta.
Also missing from the menu were breadsticks. Not even on the side menu. Italio did however, offer an item called the “Italio Stick” with either cheese or pepperoni. Great unless you don’t eat meat or don’t want all the extra cheese. I just really wanted a good piece of garlic bread or a plain breadstick.
The menu to me had some confusing parts. You have to look all the way to the end of the line to see everything that is offered. There is no menu posted on the wall as you walk in except for the “Chef’s Menu” which is basically a listing of about four pre-decided menu items. By pre-decided menu items I mean that they have already picked all the toppings for you.
Also not offered on the menu is a half order of the shrimp pasta, however, on another poster on the wall it is offered as part of a pick two combination.
We plain and simply would not come here again. We were just not impressed. Italio is just boring. No lasagna, no ravioli, no other Italian-style pasta other than spaghetti. Very limited choices, which is fine, that’s their thing. The restaurant reminds me more of something you would find in a mall food court. For the price I would rather sit down and enjoy the ambiance of a full service casual Italian restaurant like a Carraba’s or Macaroni Grill. Those places will offer breadsticks with your pasta as well as many more choices, and the employees are most likely better trained to know everything that is being served. I would never imagine a server at Olive Garden shrugging their shoulders when asked a question. Most servers would know to ask someone who does know- like the manager standing two feet from them. We were just not thrilled with the food either.
If you want to try Italio for yourself, there are three locations in South Florida, one in Winter Park and another in Orland Park, IL.