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A Lido with many followers

Everyone's tastes are different, so here’s a reflection of mine: I'm not in love with pasta. And when it comes to spaghetti, I'm not even in like -- blame it on too many P.T.A. spaghetti dinners. With that disclaimer in mind, I went to Lido's Italian Restaurant, a two decades-old favorite in South Orlando.

The immediate impression was of a small, neighborhood-type of place -- 22 tables decorated with wine bottles and red-and-white checkered tablecloths. Easy listening music. Fans overhead. Plants hanging from the ceiling.

If you’re worried about others smoking, as so many seem to be these days, you probably should know that smoke inevitably drifts into the non-smoking section. Likewise, if you’re worried about others overhearing your conversation, be warned that Lido's is almost like a huge family gathering with many people talking at once. (My own favorite discussion this night came from a group of four men who were pondering how founding father Thomas Jefferson would have viewed assault rifles.)

A young woman greeted us immediately and cheerfully, and told us to pick any table we wanted. She quickly brought us our drink orders, a bottle of Peroni beer ($2.50) and a half-carafe of Chianti (very reasonable $5.25).

A glance at the menu made it obvious even to a beer-drinker that Lido's has a surprisingly wide variety of often-inexpensive wines -- particularly for such a small neighborhood place.

We found our bread sticks were hot and filling, albeit somewhat ordinary. The salad of greens was served, a la Olive Garden, in one big bowl (though that restaurant's has more variety). The homemade Italian dressing could have used more bite.

My companion picked one of the 10 veal dishes, veal Marsala ($11.95), with a side-order of (shudder) spaghetti. The veal, properly thin, had a rich sauce of mushrooms, butter and Marsala wine. Feeling bold, I had a few bites of the spaghetti, which was mildly pleasing.

I had the day's special, an un-Italian 8-ounce filet mignon ($8.95). It was cooked to the right degree of requested well-doneness, and was as good as you would find at most steakhouses.

Dessert was spumoni ice cream, which was creamy and rich. The menu said the cannoli had "homemade filling," which was fine, but perhaps they should have done the same with the rest of the dish, because the shell was thick and hard.

On a return visit for lunch, I ordered a $3.75 Italian cold cuts and cheese sub. The meat was nicely lean meat, but the sub made even higher grades for the crunchy, crusty bread and the dressing that was sweet and tart.

Of course, the true test of a restaurant is whether you will go back. In this case, I will, not only for the atmosphere but also to try some of the pasta dishes (the vegetarian lasagna looked good) and maybe even have a few bites of someone else's spaghetti.

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