Thursday, March 14, 2013

New Kid in Town - Fiamma Trattoria

Fiamma is one of those restaurants that have opened in town fairly recently and opened with little fanfare or publicity.  One day the place just appeared.  There was no grand opening, no website, and no indication what type of Italian restaurant it would be.  It sits in a small place on the corner of one of my favorite streets in town (a historic residential street that is filled with gorgeous Victorian homes and doesn't turn commercial until the street terminates) in a space once occupied by a Mexican dive bar.  My husband, always suspicious of new establishments (I don't call him Sir Pickypants for nothing), started out very reluctant to try it.  The memories of the previous tenant were still in his head and he wondered if Fiamma was going to be a little trashy.  I suppose I can't blame him.  Fiamma was determined to fly under the radar and not announce to the world what it was all about.  What was it hiding?

I don't like to ignore new restaurants. I hate to think I'm possibly passing over something wonderful.  In that spirit, I became an internet detective and began searching every site I could think of to find more information.  I started seeing stuff in dribs and drabs.  Everything I was reading about it was positive.

It took a few months before I finally was able to go myself.  It helps to have SPP's sister-in-law around.  She is separated for weeks at at time from her home in Chicago.  She can feel a bit bored and lonely at times.  She's also interested in exploring everything her temporary New York home has to offer.  We made a date to try the place this week. Kevin even decided he wanted to join us. 

There is a reason they don't post their menu online.  The menu changes every day.  The restaurant is so small (maybe 10 tables) that the chef has to buy everything fresh.  He goes to the market daily and gets what looks good and then creates that day's menu from it.  Each night the menu is posted on the blackboard.

When we entered we saw it was fairly busy for late on a Tuesday night.  Even so, we were greeted warmly and seated promptly.  The hostess explained the menu to us.  Certain dishes are served every night.  If you're not adventurous, you can always have tagilatelle bolognese, pork chops with vinegar peppers, or chicken or eggplant parmigiana.  Salads and side vegetables aren't listed on the menu, but they are quick to point out you can have one with your meal if the appetizer selection doesn't tickle your fancy. 

They started us off with the bread basket.  Rather than butter they brought us a bottle of olive oil and a small container of tomato topping.  (The server called it "bruschetta" but I refuse to use that word to refer to tomato topping.  The word bruschetta referrs to grilled bread - not what one typically puts on top of it.)

 Please forgive the quality of the photos.  I forgot my good camera and had to use my phone all evening.

Although Kevin and his SIL had salads, I was very keen to try the homemade mozzarella.  There are plenty of places to get homemade mozzarella in my neighborhood, but I can never resist it when someone offers it.  I was not disappointed. 

Next was the main course.  My dining companions stuck with the homemade pasta dishes.  I was an even bigger doodyhead and forgot to take photos of them.  Kevin had a dish with lobster and crab in pink sauce. 

I chose a braised pork shank.  This was like a pork club.  I could have used it as a weapon (along with the parsnip).  I never needed my knife to eat this.  It just fell off the bone in lovely, succulent chunks.  The light tomato and mushroom sauce combined perfectly with the creamy poltenta beneath it. 

For dessert we had zeppoli.  The word zeppoli has multiple meanings here in the NY area.  Zeppoli can be more like cream puffs with pate a choux dough and either fried or baked and filled with cannoli cream (which makes them St. Joseph's pastries).  They can also be fried pizza dough doused in powdered sugar, also called pizza fritta, which are more of a carnival food. 

Fiamma's zeppoli were more like the latter version than the former.  Unlike carnival zeppoli, and more like the bakery pastries, these had a filling.  They were filled with Nutella.  Since they come four to an order and we were sharing them, they offered to fill half with Nutella and half with cannoli cream.  The cannoli cream ones also had chocolate chips in them.

These were ridiculously good.  They were so delicious and fattening they should have been illegal. 

Since I usually don't like to drink on weeknights (I'm a chronic insomniac and alcohol disrupts my already fragile sleep), I don't know what their wine offerings were.  They had a "wine cellar" (labelled as such with a wooden sign), which was a very large rack covering a large part of one wall.  I will have to go back on a weekend to try out their offerings.

We left feeling happy and well fed.  We really do want to come back again.  I do most of my eating out on weekends, so it will be interesting trying to go back.  They don't take reservations for fewer than six people.  If they're busy on a Tuesday, I can imagine the wait for a table on a weekend would be long.  Oh well.  It might be worth the risk.

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