Food blog 22nd and Philly says this IQL restaurant “sets the bar” for others of its kind (we’re inclined to agree). 2016 UPDATE: Jen Lally’s pics from behind the stove & around Chef Franco’s kitchen.
— FIRST PUBLISHED on 22ndandphilly.com
East Falls seems to be the Philly neighborhood without a food identity yet, at least in our minds. It’s stuck between Center City and Manayunk without the panache of either.
We’re not familiar with any food options in East Falls beyond In Riva (which we like) and Johnny Manana’s – not for the food but the central location and colorful exterior. Major Wing Lee Grocery Market has received notoriety for its $3 hoagies. Anyone suggest we go there for Hoagie Quest?
It’s against this backdrop that we visited Fiorino and discovered a top contender in The Nana Test. We probably never would have even heard of Fiorino if a friend had not moved in down the street.
Franco Faggi is the owner and chef of Fiorino, which specializes in the cuisine of Romagna, his native homeland in Italy. Franco also offers FREE cooking classes (minus $10 for the supplies). Wow. We’ll be looking to check that out.
Let’s get to The Nana Test.
Atmosphere: Fiorino is located on the corner of a quiet residential street, but when you step inside you could be transported into a corner restaurant in any Italian town. It’s a small place with about 30 tightly packed seats, which helps creates a communal atmosphere that any Italian would appreciate. Two big parties were seated during our meal and no one batted an eye at the commotion. 4 out of 5 points
Simplicity: From start to finish this was old-school Italian cooking that definitely reminded me of meals at my Nana’s.
Kristy ordered the shrimp & beans, which to me looked and tasted like pasta e fagioli with shrimp. The simple flavors left her satisfied and portion size was just enough. One of our dining companions ordered the spaghetti scoglio, which TwoEatPhilly recommended. Neither of us had a taste, but she said it was good. All dishes were under $20. 4 out of 5
The Sauce: I ordered the tagliatelle Bolognese. Too often this dish either does not have enough meat sauce or is buried with too much. Chef Franco got the combination just about right. A touch more meat sauce and I would have been able to scrape the bowl clean with some bread. The tagliatelle was cooked to a suitable al dente.
Our other companion ordered the lamb shank special. Check out the pic above! After having a taste of the sauce, it’s no wonder the entire shank was devoured. The lamb came with creamy polenta, but I think a baked polenta would have worked better. 4 out of 5
Antipasti: Fiorino did not offer a meat and cheese antipasti, but you could order the bresaola and/or caprese to make one. I was in a soup mood and ordered the pasta e fagioli, while Kristy went with the gorgonzola salad. Both the fagioli and salad were average, but not amazing. The couple we were with ordered the grilled calamari, which also was good, not great. 3 out of 5
Serving size and bread: Would like a serving of bruschetta to start? Yes, please. Would like a basket of bread with your appetizers? Yes, please. Do you need more bread for the meal? Yes, please.
Thank you Fiorino for passing this seemingly no brainer test with flying colors. We even received biscotti before the dessert!
Fiorino has set the bar for others. Some places should come and learn. The serving sizes were about in the middle of what you would expect for the price. 5 out of 5
Secret Sambuca test: A round of homemade limoncello? An emphatic yes! One bonus point.
Final score: 21/25 points
Thank you to the fantastic foodie blog 22nd and Philly for sharing this review with us here at East Falls Local, we enjoy your personal and engaging accounts of dining around the city (and even road trips!).
Blogging since 2008, 22nd and Philly has created a great reference library of reviews for anyone who appreciates knowing what to expect heading into a new place to eat — and also for food adventurers, seeking out the next big flavors. They’re not chefs or wine snobs or even journalists — just a coupla crazy kids (and new baby!) sharing their eating adventures in our city. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, too.