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Primo Restaurant

Melissa Kelly’s grandfather used to send her deep into the neighbors’ backyards to pick dandelions.


“If they were small he’d make a salad, if they were big he’d make ravioli filling,” says the James Beard award-winning chef. It was Primo, Kelly’s grandfather and restaurant namesake, who taught her the “seasonal to the moment” cooking that has become her signature.


At Primo Orlando, Italian-inspired cuisine embraces Florida’s bounty. Peppers, tomatoes, eggplant. Exotic citrus like calamansi and Persian limes. Radicchio, arugula, kabocha squash. All of it and more grows in the restaurant’s spacious garden. And all of it shapes the daily menu.


“If something’s coming out of the garden today, it’s on the menu today,” says Chef Kelly.


So just like Primo and his dandelions, each morning matches freshness with creativity.


Local red snapper might get a succotash of just-sprung peas, corn and ramps. Bulging Meyer lemons may offer their sweet-sour touch to charred Florida octopus. Wild nettles may create a nutty accent for spring lamb, while fiddleheads and white asparagus showcase a sustainably-raised New York strip.


There is only one dish that never changes: saltimbocca, a scaloppini of heritage pork layered with spinach and prosciutto that was Primo’s favorite meal.


“People have these memory banks for food, and even just to smell that food immediately makes you think of your family,” Chef Kelly says. “And when people take time to make something for someone else, and they put the love into the food, people really feel that.”



JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes
4040 Central Florida Parkway
Orlando, FL 32837