“Founding Father of New World Cuisine” unveils a new culinary concept featuring both fine dining and inspired casual cuisine experiences under the same roof.
Orlando, FL – Renowned restaurateur and James Beard Award-winning chef Norman Van Aken, regarded as the “Founding Father of New World Cuisine,” expands Orlando’s culinary scene with the opening of NORMAN’S – Van Aken’s impressive new flagship restaurant located in Dellagio Town Center on Restaurant Row.
Now open, NORMAN’S is a 7,300-square-foot culinary destination offering both fine dining and casual cuisine experiences under the same roof, in addition to two private event spaces. The dramatic 80-seat Main Dining Room – designed in dark woods, with sleek taupe leather and accents of verdant green – features a handsome hand-cast brass bar. Outside on The Terrace – NORMAN’S chic open-air casual dining space – Van Aken’s global tapas-style menu is complemented by a dynamic cocktail program curated to pair with Van Aken’s unique flavor profiles.
Together with business partner Kim Wood, Van Aken sought to create “a variety of culinary and hand-crafted cocktail experiences paired with seasonal cuisine so vibrant, guests can truly taste the terroir and magic of Florida.”
“We want to be able to enjoy our restaurants as we do other forms of entertainment,” says Kim Wood. “At NORMAN’S, we have created two distinct vibes – elegant fine dining in a modern setting, and elevated al fresco dining in The Terrace. It’s the perfect combination.”
Both menus at NORMAN’S feature Van Aken’s signature New World Cuisine, which incorporates flavors and techniques from Latin, Caribbean, Asian, African, and American cuisines, highlighting seasonal ingredients sourced from local farms and purveyors. The iconic chef’s “greatest hits” – such as Shrimp Ceviche with “Salsa of Life” and Florida Day Boat Fish Tiradito with Aji Amarillo and Blistered Sweet Corn – are menu standouts, alongside new culinary creations.
The Main Dining Room menu presents a bold offering of dishes, including Brazilian-Styled Shrimp and Mussels Chowder with Saffron, Citrus, Star Anise, and Coconut Milk; Yuca Stuffed Crispy Shrimp with
Sour Orange Mojo and Pickled Habanero Tartar Sauce; Pan-Cooked Filet of Yellowtail with Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Citrus Butter; and Angus Beef Ribeye with Red Wine Reduction, Roasted Mushrooms, Pearl Onion Confit and Seasonal Squashes.
Decadent dessert options include Dedo de Chocolate with Chocolate Mousse, Guajillo Salted Butter Caramel Macadamia Bark, and Chocolate Sorbet, Key Lime Tart with Graham Cracker Crust, Margarita Gel, and Whipped Tahitian Ganache; and Buttermilk Tres Leches Cake with Florida Strawberries and Coconut Brittle.
NORMAN’S’ extensive wine list spans the top wine regions across the globe, boasting more than 300 selections of Old World vintages and New World varietals. Overseen by Wine Director and General Manager Yusuf Yildiz.
The mixology program at NORMAN’S has been artfully designed to complement Van Aken’s signature New World flavors. Beverage Consultant Andi Cruzatti created specialty cocktails for the Main Bar and The Terrace Bar, as well as a menu of classic cocktails exclusively for the Main Dining Room and Bar.
The Specialty Cocktail menu features ingredient-driven libations such as the citrusy You Only Live Twice with Suntory Toki Whiskey, Yuzu Honey, Lemon, and Foam and the floral-infused Rose’ Sangria Fizzy with Ketel One Grapefruit Rose Vodka, Cocchi Americano Rossi, Martini Rossi Rose Prosecco, Strawberries, Pomegranate Seeds, and Lemon. Van Aken’s beloved Key West was the inspiration behind The SouthernMost, made with Copalli Rum, Key Lime, Madagascar Vanilla, and Foam.
The Classic Cocktail menu includes a selection of traditional tipples with a modern twist such as The Sherwood – NORMAN’S take on the martini – with Grey Goose, Cocchi Dry Vermouth, Angostura Orange Bitters, and Blue Cheese Olives, and the Lemongrass Negroni with 400 Conejos, Lemongrass Infused Cocchi Bianco, Salers Gentian Liqueur, and Lemon. The festive rum punch-inspired Ave Maria is a tropical blend of Copalli Rum, Toasted Coconut, Guava, Pineapple, and Coconut Cream.
On The Terrace, the menu of tapas-style plates perfect for sharing includes Coconut Shrimp Hush Puppies with Thai Dipping Sauce; Tamarind Ginger BBQ’d Octopus ‘Glass’ Potatoes with Crème Fraîche; and Pork Dumplings in Yuzu Broth with Maitake Mushrooms and Miso.
NORMAN’S combines contemporary and traditional elements to create an extraordinary aesthetic. An enchanting glass entrance leads to a pristine wine cellar featuring a 3,500 skew temperature controlled environment.
The Main Dining Room delivers layers of opulence featuring a series of vaulted arches that enhance the Main Bar and create a sultry speakeasy vibe. The perfect spot for a pre-dinner cocktail, the Main Bar is a bastion of glamor with dark green high-gloss stoneware tile and softly illuminated backlighting. Two private dining rooms can accommodate up to 25 guests for intimate celebrations or business meetings with a board-room setting.
The spacious wraparound outdoor terrace features jeweled green tones with leathered and high-gloss finishes. Outfitted with dark aluminum bar stools and lounge seating with slate cushions, The 85-seat Patio can accommodate up to 150 guests for reception-style events and can be set-designed with food stations and live music for private activations.
Van Aken’s dedicated, James Beard Award-Winning team at NORMAN’S includes Chef de Cuisine Carlos Robles Molina, General Manager and Wine Director Yusuf Yildiz, and Private Event Manager Laura Fletcher.
In his 40-year-plus career, Van Aken has received numerous accolades, including the coveted James Beard Foundation’s “Best Chef South Award.” Van Aken is the only Floridian inducted into the prestigious James Beard list of “Who’s Who in American Food and Beverage.”
Van Aken has earned the respect of iconic culinary masters worldwide. Wolfgang Puck has called him “a true pioneer of the American food movement.” The late Anthony Bourdain said “Norman Van Aken is the Jimmy Page of his profession…a man who was there at almost every important moment of its history.”
Van Aken is prominently featured in the award-winning documentary LOVE, CHARLIE: The Rise and Fall of Chef Charlie Trotter which chronicles the life of the late famed Chicago chef Charlie Trotter. A dear friend and former culinary mentee, the late Trotter affectionately dubbed Van Aken the “Walt Whitman of American cuisine.”
Van Aken has authored seven books: Feast of Sunlight (1988); The Exotic Fruit Book (1995); Norman’s New World Cuisine (1997); New World Kitchen (2003); My Key West Kitchen (2012); Norman Van Aken’s Florida Kitchen (2016); and his memoir No Experience Necessary…The Culinary Odyssey of Chef Norman Van Aken (2013). For more information on Van Aken’s books, please visit: here. For Van Aken’s Full Bio, please visit: here.
NORMAN’S is located in the Dellagio Town Center at 7924 Via Dellagio Way in Orlando, FL. NORMAN’S is open daily: The Main Dining Room is open from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.; The Terrace is open from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. (Sunday-Wednesday) and from 5:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. (Thursday-Saturday). NORMAN’S Social Hour is held Monday through Friday from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. For reservations: (321) 754-1025 or OpenTable. The Terrace welcomes walk-ins on a first come, first served basis. For more information, visit: normans.com. Follow on Instagram: @normansorlando.