One of the best things about Orlando is their growing food scene. There are so many delicious restaurants around town that are putting Orlando on the foodie map.
One of those places is NOVA-short for North Orange and Virginia- located in the heart of the Ivanhoe District.
I was recently invited to a private media tasting event at this scratch kitchen and craft cocktail concept restaurant.
As soon as I walked in, I was greeted by the friendly staff and gorgeous bar.
The cutting-edge bar at NOVA serves everything from creative craft cocktails to boutique wines and local draught beers.
I wasted no time and ordered a Elderflower Spritz. It's made with Boyd and Blair Vodka, Bertina Elderflower Liquor, fresh lemon juice and topped with prosecco!
After mingling at the bar for a few minutes, we were introduced to Executive Chef Valintinus Domingo- the man behind the delicious cuisines at NOVA.
Chef Val graciously escorted us to our table and gave an insight of his culinary journey and the influences behind all his dishes.
"The entire menu is inspired by my lifetime of travels, while using local sustainable meats, seafood and produce. It is my honor to now serve Central Florida,” says Chef Val.
We started off the night by sampling a few of NOVA's most popular starter dishes.
DECONSTRUCTED TUNA TOSTADAS:
Cumin-dusted ahi tuna / house-made guacamole / flatbread crackers
HEIRLOOM TOMATO BRUSCHETTA
Basil and herb marinade/Burrata/toasted Challah/fig balsamic gastrique
Point Judith Calamari/Sweet Thai Chili vinaigrette
Whenever I go to a restaurant and see calamari on the menu, I get excited! It's one of my all time favorite appetizers. Unfortunately, not every restaurant succeeds in making it the right way.
Luckily, NOVA nailed it!
It was lightly battered yet still crispy with a hint of heat and sweetness. Perfection!
After devouring the starters, the owner, Mark Stillman, along with Chef Val, brought out all the mouth-watering entrees.
Since it was too hard for all of us to choose what plate we wanted, we opted on sharing- tapas style.
Best decision ever- and great tip if you're dining out with friends.
Fresh chickpea salad / sautéed artichoke / heirloom cherry tomatoes / lemon-caper pan sauce
DUCK FAT FRIED CHICKEN
Sriracha buttermilk chicken / braised collards / smoked Gouda mac n’ cheese
Sesame-crusted ahi tuna / kimchi fried rice / coconut-ginger curry / vegetable stir fry
LOBSTER AND CRAB RAVIOLI
Organic spinach and tomato / sherry cream
Short rib patty / Vermont White Cheddar / over-easy egg / pecan-smoked bacon / brioche bun
Wasabi purple potato mash / roasted red pepper and ginger coulis / garlic broccolini
I would gladly return and order every single dish. There is something for every palet at NOVA.
Chef Val's worldly travels along with his southern and Pacific Islander roots - mixed in with the upscale American farm-to-table cuisine concept- makes the dishes at NOVA like no other restaurant in Central Florida.
NOVA only uses natural and sustainable ingredients from local culinary partners and purveyors, including Lake Meadows Naturals Farm.
To satisfy our sweet tooth, Chef Val brought out Crème Brûlée, Strawberry Shortcake and a Key Lime Oreo Crusted Cheesecake.
My favorite, hands down, was the Crème Brûlée! I may or may not have licked the plate-it was that good!
NOVA recently expanded its hours to weekend brunch on both Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM.
The brunch menu includes Crab Cake Benedict, Stuffed French Toast Sandwiches, Short Rib Burritos, Bottomless Mimosas, Bloody Marys and much more.
Can't wait to return, especially for a Sunday Funday brunch with my girls.
Cheers to finding a great new Orlando food spot!
409 N. Orange Avenue, Orlando, FL 32804
Hours: 11:30AM-2:30PM, 5-9:30PM