Sunday, May 2, 2010

Fiore's Ristorante Toscana

One of the Asheville’s best downtown classics is Fiore’s Italian restaurant on College Street. Owner/Chef Anthony Cerrato oversees the daily operation to ensure his guests enjoy their experience. If he isn’t found working the room and chatting with guests, then he is probably in the kitchen watching over the details of each dish. This is a great place to stop in for lunch or dinner. One of my favorite appetizers is the Calamari Fritti combining fried calamari with roasted garlic tomato sauce. This is a great way to start your dinner off right.

We had dinner with friends, George and Shirley Bates, who drove up from Louisiana to visit and preach this weekend at Asheville Apostolic Church in town. George was hungry for some great Italian and Fiore’s was at the top of the list for us. Anthony was out of town, but Lorena was a gracious host and ensured we had a wonderful evening. Thank you Lorena!

Dinner started off with house made focaccia served with a dish of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and spices in which to dip it. Delicious, if you’re a bread nut; this will do it for you. We started off with a variety for our first course: Caesar salad, Greek salad, Tuscan Formaggio (Italian version of French Onion Soup) and Italian sausage (special request by George). The salads are classic and can be ordered as small or large, with a full dinner the small is plenty. The Caesar includes an anchovy filet and if you’ve never tried it, dice it small and eat it with your salad – you’ll be surprised. The onion soup is delightful with lots of cheese and full flavored broth. The sausage isn’t actually a separate menu item, but I told George how appetizing the house made sausage was and he had to give it a try. The kitchen cut the large links in half, grilled them and served over a blackberry sauce – unforgettable!

Our entrées were just as good. Kinah and Shirley both ordered chicken Sorrentino which is topped with breaded eggplant, prosciutto and Asiago cheese served in a Madeira wine sauce with plum tomatoes. The dish includes sautéed vegetables and garlic potatoes. It is a fantastic entrée that I’ve ordered before also. The flavors blend nicely together with a pleasant play between the acidity of the tomatoes and Madeira and the Asiago on the eggplant. You will not be disappointed.

George took my suggestion and ordered the Tuscan Duck and Figs. The duck breast is marinated and grilled to your taste and includes goat cheese stuffed figs wrapped in fresh basil and prosciutto complemented by Chianti wine reduction, sautéed vegetables and garlic potatoes. This is a beautiful combination that leaves you wanting more. I could make a meal alone of the figs. Anthony, make an appetizer of your sausage and another one of your figs! I’ll order both.

I ordered a full order of the Scampi Con Capellini. If you are not feeling as hungry a small order is still plenty. A typical scampi with large shrimp (tails on) in a sauce of white wine, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, roasted red peppers, herbs and fresh lemon served over capellini (commonly referred to as angel hair pasta). I like a little spice so the kitchen was very accommodating to add a few red pepper flakes. My eyes were too big again, but the leftovers are never thrown out.

We were stuffed, but we aren’t quitters! Anthony has an excellent tiramisu from an old family recipe and his flan is just as fantastic. Two orders of each along with coffee for all four of us to enjoy finishing an impressive Italian feast.

Fiore’s is family owned and a member of the Asheville Independent Restaurant Association. It is conveniently located downtown across from the gorgeous Pack Square Park and the newly opened Reuter Terrace.

Ciao !

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