Avalon Park is one of the communities in Central Florida built following the new urbanism model. Much like Celebration or Baldwin Park, Avalon Park features a walkable downtown area, which was void of pedestrians when I visited. The feature that sets Avalon Park's downtown area apart from the other planned communities are the huge cooling towers from the Stanton Power Plant that tower over the treeline. To add to the wonderfulness, if the wind is blowing in the right direction, you can probably get a whiff of the Orange County Landfill that also neighbors the community. Avalon Park has a very Simpsons feel...
I had never been to Avalon Park, so I decided to check the place out and get dinner. I considered giving Brianto's Original Hoagies a try, which seems to be a favorite among some of the other local food blogs, but I wasn't in the mood for a meaty sandwich. Instead, we settled on a place called Papa Gio's to get pizza.
Inside, the dining room walls were painted with both scenes from New York's Little Italy neighborhood and scenes of Italian countrysides.
We started with some garlic knots. They were okay, but definitely not the best around. These knots actually had very little garlic on them, which kind of defeated the purpose.
The half spinach/half meatball pizza soon followed the garlic knots. As far as New York style pizza goes in Orlando, this was one of the best pies I've had in a while. The crust was nice and thin. They got the proportions of cheese and sauce perfect, and it all tasted really good.
I'm always reluctant to order spinach as a pizza topping because it's hard to know what you're going to get. The worst is when you get chopped frozen spinach on a pizza, which then combines with the cheese while cooking and ends up resembling creamed spinach. Other times, you will get fresh spinach leaves on a pizza, which I like. And yet other times, you get sauteed spinach which can be really good if done right. This is how Papa Gio's made their spinach pizza and they did a good job. It was nice and garlicy, but the only problem was the spinach didn't seem to be drained fully before being put on the pizza. While the meatball side of the pie was nice and crispy, the spinach side was way too soggy in spots where there was too much spinach juice. But really, it was a minor complaint to a really good pizza.
I'd gladly expose myself to the radioactive trace elements from the power plant to get more pizza from Papa Gio's!