Restaurant Impossible: Peppino’s Ristorante Italiano ambushed

Restaurant Impossible: Peppino's Ristorante Italiano ambushed
Restaurant Impossible: Peppino's Ristorante Italiano ambushed (Facebook)

For this week’s latest episode of Restaurant Impossible, Chef Robert Irvine and his crew are in Orlando, Florida to ambush the owners of Peppino’s Ristorante Italiano, in Oviedo.

In the episode titled Ambush: In Robert we Trust, Robert responds to a plea for help from a Peppino’s employee. The episode was shot early last month on February 3 and 4.

Owners Susan and Luigi Lonetti purchased the restaurant with hopes that their son Nato (Fortunato) Lonetti would eventually take over the family business. But Susan and Luigi have doubts about their son due to his poor work ethic and bad attitude.

Case files from Seminole County Clerk of Courts indicate Nato (Fortunato) Lonetti has been arrested and charged numerous times for incidents that include, forgery and grand theft auto, dating back to the mid-1990s.  You can check out Lonetti’s mugshots over at  Nato is also active on his personal Facebook page.

Robert’s mission this week includes updating a decades-old menu, updating the décor, improving service and figuring out if Nato is even capable of running the business.

An article in the Orlando Sentinel reported Peppino’s Ristorante Italiano was feeling the pressure from the larger chain eateries as far back as 1995.

Robert Irvine told News 6 that the family is losing tens of thousands of dollars a year and struggling with turning the business over to the next generation.

You can check out Peppino’s on Facebook, but the social media activity is light at best.

Nato posted the following message on his personal Facebook page about the upcoming Restaurant Impossible episode featuring the family business:

Just finished shooting march 31st episode of Restaurant Impossible with Robert Ir vine an incredible experiance 230 diners finite business is booming again hope everyone watches

Just finished shooting march 31st episode of Restaurant Impossible with Robert Ir vine an incredible experiance 230 diners finite business is booming again hope everyone watches

Posted by Fortunato Lonetti on Friday, February 5, 2016

The Reviews are in

We always like to check out the online reviews of restaurant’s post-makeover, and we found a mix of reviews on Yelp for Peppino’s since Robert’s visit. Overall, Yelp reviews since Robert’s intervention are on the negative side.

Here’s a brief look at some of the positive Yelp reviews.

  • Johnathon T. on March 12 – 5 Stars: We’ve gone to Peppino’s for the last 20 years and watched the evolution of this family establishment. Every dining experience has been great with great service and a very nice family atmosphere.
  • Krista Y. on March 6 – 4 Stars: Food was delicious. Service friendly. We waited for our meals a bit longer than I expected. The ambience is casual and nice.

Here’s a brief look at some of the negative Yelp reviews.

  • Bonnie R on March 7 – 2 Stars: We wanted to give this a place one last try since our 1st 2 experiences were not good at all. And we really wanted this to work out. But, sadly, it did not.
  • Eric C on March 4 – 2 Stars: I got the chicken alla maria and my date got the alfredo pasta. The pasta in the chicken alla maria was overcooked and the chicken was undercooked. I had to spit out a piece of chicken after I bit into it because it was practically raw. The alfredo pasta wasn’t alfredo but buttered noodles with a strange sickening flavor.
  • Elizabeth D on Feb. 15 – 2 Stars: Food took 1 hr and 45 minutes to get here. Yes, we should habe left but it was already late and there were 14 in our party. Cheese sticks were partly cold, calamari was good. Salads took forever but stuffed ourselves with great bread.

At TripAdisor, one review since the makeover is very negative.

On March 17, Julie T wrote that she took her family to Peppino’s, and she’s “Never going back

The restaurant was recently renovated inside not on the outside which should have given us a clue. The renovation doesn’t make up for the horrible service. We waited 70 min for our food that came out burnt or cold. The manager never came over after asking to speak with her. The poor server was very overwhelmed and it wasn’t even a busy night. We will not be returning.

Restaurant Impossible – Ambush: In Robert We Trust, airs March 30 on the Food Network at 10 p.m. ET.

Here’s an Instagram post by Tom Bury as he prepares for the Peppino’s Ristorante Italiano ambush. Bury appears to be starting off his his day with a freshly pressed pair of work jeans and a Fit Crunch protein bar.

Here’s an Instagram video showing a master at work applying adhesive before vinyl flooring goes down at Peppino’s Ristorante Italiano.

A master at work: Part 1. Applying adhesive before vinyl flooring goes down. #restaurantimpossible #flooring @cfirock

A video posted by John Combs (@johnanthonycombs) on

Here’s a tweet from Robert after completing another successful mission at Peppino’s Ristorante Italiano in Orlando.

Here’s a look at a group taking a lunch break at the newly renovated Peppino’s Ristorante Italiano.

It does look great inside and different but not completely. Just updated (except ceiling and signage). Food was decent, hoping they make a comeback!

Lunch break at the newly made over Peppino’s! #restaurantimpossible

A photo posted by Tracy L Marini (@tlmarini) on

About Bob Miller 5062 Articles
Just another food journalist chewing his way through the fat in the endless search for the tender meat close to the bone.