528 South Park Avenue is settled two minutes away from the Rollins College campus and has been home to many different establishments. Since the beginning of my time at Rollins, it has gone from a hand roll sushi restaurant, to being vacant, and then under construction for about a summer and a half until finally, it became what it is today, Maestro Cucina Napoletana, or Maestro for short, where they serve up the most underrated Italian food in all of Winter Park. 

I cannot wrap my head around why Maestro is not as popular as it should be. From the ideal atmosphere, to the strong connection to Italy and the undeniably unique and authentic food, Maestro is a place that everyone in Winter Park should become familiar with.


Amanda Wakefield

Walking up to Maestro, you can see the beautiful inside-outside Italian bar, stacked high with quality wines from all over Italy. The interior is brick, with Italian artwork, and an Italian pizza oven that can be seen from any seat in the restaurant. The menus are made of cork, and the printed Italian items make you feel like you have been placed in a traditional Italian café in the heart of the country. 

But what really makes you feel right in the center of Italy are the employees. Recognizing right away that they are Italian, I asked them where they are from. One is from Milan, another from the south coast, and another from the same place that I live when I am spending time in Italy, Trastevere, Roma. I automatically felt a sense of home, and I was so excited to be able to practice speaking Italian in such a great atmosphere.

Connection to Italy

Amanda Wakefield

Chefs Rosario Spagnolo and Antonio Martino have served up traditional Italian food to locals and native Italians for years. At Maestro, they serve cuisine from their hometown, Naples. From the technique they use to simmer the sauce and roll out the pizza dough, to where the ingredients are sourced, all operations are done as if the resturant is smack-dab in the middle of Italy. 

Americanizing things is not the Maestro way, and it is evident in every single detail of the restaurant. From menu items such as Panzanella, Pasta e Fagioli soup, Spaghetti Alle Vongole, you will feel like you have just been transported into an Italian dream. The chefs and Italian dishes connect the place to Italy, and taste of the food is nothing short of incredible. 


Amanda Wakefield

So the atmosphere and connection to Italy are there, but how does the food at Maestro live up to the high standards that both the chefs hold? Living in Italy for a total of seven months, even I can taste and see the difference between a good dish of pasta versus one that has been made in mass quantities with frozen ingredients. 

The first time I went to Maestro, I wanted to try one of everything. It was so hard to make a decision, but I decided on  meatballs as an appetizer and a pizza as my main dish. Thanks to their Marra Forni wood-burning oven, the pizza can be crisped up to perfection in just under 90 seconds. I knew I was in for a treat.

The sauce was like the sauce that my own Italian grandparents make, and the pizza was piled high with prosciutto, arugula, and fresh tomatoes. With every bite, I grew more and more certain that I would be spending way too much time and money at Maestro during the remainder of my college career. 

As I walked away, I daydreamed about when I could go back. Luckily, the five minute walk is far from treacherous. I went back the next night for happy hour to have five dollar apps and drink specials. Not bad, and on top of it all, Maestro offers a 10% discount to students. 

Maestro Cucina Napoletana is undoubtedly the most underrated resturant on Park Ave; however, it is one of the best places to get authentic Italian food and feel what it is like to be right in the center of Italy. I 10/10 recommend that everyone tries it, and would be willing to bet that once you take one bite, you will become a regular just daydreaming about the next time you can go back.