Al Fresco – Winter Garden, Florida

Al Fresco is a Mediterranean restaurant in historic downtown Winter Garden. It’s a bit tucked away from its Plant Street entrance, behind Axum Coffee. There is a back entrance off Tremaine Street. Their website encourages a “come as you are”, even if that means coming in after riding your bike or bringing your dog (there is an outside patio). To me, the dinner atmosphere with dim lighting (and higher prices) seem more suitable for an upscale family or business dinner and would be great for a romantic meal as well.

Al Fresco places an emphasis on fresh ingredients and purchases theirs from local farms, including a rooftop grower located directly above them. They also claim to welcome customers’ input on preparing their meal. I was eager to see if this was true, as there is no vegan entrée on the menu.

I spoke to our waitress, who was very knowledgeable about the menu and provided us with excellent service during the evening. She in turn communicated my needs to the kitchen staff, who prepare the food in an open-air kitchen. Everyone seemed to have no trouble at all with my request.

I started with hummus which was creamy and delicious and came with warm pita bread. I actually ate so much of it I couldn’t finish all of my entrée that evening. I ended up with a linguine primavera entrée. The linguine did not have eggs in it per the chef. My pasta was full of broccolini, spinach, tomatoes, green beans, zucchini and peas with a marinara sauce. I really appreciate the effort to give me what I wanted and the freshness of the vegetables shined through. I got the feeling that if I had another idea of what I wanted for a dinner, such as sautéed veggies with rice or roasted potatoes, they would have been happy to oblige.

My custom veggie linguine

My custom veggie linguine

Since I couldn’t finish all the pasta in one sitting I had the pleasure of eating the rest as leftovers the next day. It heated up very nicely and I’d say was just as good!

Delicious Leftovers

Delicious leftovers – and better lighting for taking pictures!

For other menu options, the Zaalouck appears to be a good vegan appetizer. Several salads on their menu look interesting and I will have to try them for lunch sometime. Over all I’d recommend Al Fresco for fresh ingredients, friendly and accommodating staff, and good food.

Ratings from a plant-based eating perspective (1-5 scale, 1=Terrible  5=Excellent)

Ambiance: 5        Service: 5             Choices: 4           Taste: 5                Overall: 5

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