Sherman's Food Adventures: Fiorino


If you haven't noticed, Chinatown has been going through quite the transformation in the last 10-15 years.  Once bustling with crowds looking for the freshest veggies and seafood 7 days-a-week, we now find stores closing and being replaced with hipster joints.  The gentrification of the place has drawn a variety of reactions across the board.  For myself, I do reminisce about my childhood and the memories of accompanying my parents on weekend shopping trips and dim sum.  However, I also realize that change is inevitable and sometimes you just have to see things through.  Much like I value family, the owner of the newly opened Fiorino does the same with his Florence-inspired street food, with pictures of family and memories from Florence itself adorning the walls.  Located in the former Brixton, Fiorino adds to the growing mosaic of business that call Chinatown its home.

I brought the family to the media launch so that we could not only share the plates of food, but to properly experience the concept.  We were started off with the Crostini consisting of tomatoes with garlic on artichoke puree, porcini puree with mushrooms and chicken liver mousse.  The crostini itself was crunchy holding up to the wet toppings.  I found the chicken liver to be rustic and chunky while flavourful.  Mushrooms were earthy as expected while the tomatoes were tangy and spiked with plenty of garlic.

Sliced paper thin, the Beef Carpaccio was visually-appealing and topped with capers, shallots and truffle oil.  This also ate very well too with buttery melt-in-our-mouths beef that was well-seasoned yet not overdone.  There was enough truffle oil for effect without being too pungent while the saltiness was just right as the natural meat flavour still came through.

Next up was probably our favourite dish being the house-made Gnocchi with wild boar ragu and parmigiano reggiano.  Although it was on the greasier side, the flavours benefited from the fat as the ragu was rich, meaty and full of body.  At the same time, it wasn't heavy due to the chunks of onions that weren't completely cooked down.  The large gnocchi were tender and somewhere between fluffy and firm. 

We then moved onto the Gnudi Cacio e Pepe.  For those unfamiliar, gnudi are essentially "naked" dumplings where it is all filling and no pasta.  These consisted of spinach and ricotto in a cheese and pepper sauce (hence cacio e pepe).  These were soft and well seared.  The sauce itself was a bit thin but not lacking in flavour.  It was indeed cheesy and a bit buttery.  Fried sage on top completed the dish.

For me, I always happy to see a lamb dish and yes, I was pleased to see the Polpette D'Agnello hit the table.  These were huge meatballs where the lamb was just barely cooked through.  Hence, they were moist and juicy with the unmistakable flavour of lamb.  It sat atop Tuscan salsa verde which was bright, tangy and aromatic.  I ended up eating most of it since I am the only lamb-eater of the family.  No complaints from me!

One dish that maybe needed a bit of refining was the Verdure Fritte featuring semolina-battered vegetables.  We found the batter too thick and dense which also meant it wasn't particularly crispy either.  On the other hand, the veggies were perfect though as they were still crisp while cooked through.  It did state that there was a side of mushroom spread, but I didn't really taste mushroom.  Whatever it was, it was tasty.

Now the other fried dish was appreciably better in the Fritto Misto with semolina-battered local seafood (shrimp and calamari) and roasted garlic aioli.  Although the pieces of seafood were on the smaller side, they were not overdone in any way.  The shrimp was bouncy while the calamari was tender with a slight chew.  The batter was crispy and not greasy.  Side of aioli was creamy and garlicky.

The kids love Arancini, I guessed they saved the best for last (well, everything came pretty quickly, so they didn't have to wait long!).  This was one giant-ass arancini that was crispy on the outside with semi-soft aborio rice and cheese in the middle.  This sat atop a pomarola sauce that was tangy and slightly sweet.  Normally, with such a big arancini, getting the outside crispy (while not burning it) and ensuring the middle is melted, would be somewhat difficult (trust me, I've tried).  However, this was executed well.

For desert, we were served the classic Tiramisu with mascarpone crema, ladyfingers, cocoa powder and sour cherries.  The crema was rich and sweet while the ladyfingers (there wasn't many in ours) were properly soaked and moist.  For some reason, we didn't see or taste any sour cherries.  I'm sure that would've helped cut the sweetness.  In the end, the food we did try was mostly good and great for sharing.  Prices are reasonable and the place has a nice vibe in a Seattle-Portland type of way.  I'm curious about their sandwiches they serve for lunch and some of the new items they have added for dinner.  I just might try that too!

*All food and beverages were complimentary*

The Good:
- Generally good sharable plates
- Modern rustic vibe
- Reasonably-priced

The Bad:

- Need to refine those fried veggies 



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