Fiorentino’s Cucina Italiana

By Katie Bijak | Friday, February 25, 2011
Address: 2901 N. Ashland Ave.
Phone: 773.244.3026
Website: Website: http://fiorentinoscucina.com/

Fiorentino's Rigatoni alla Boscaiola. Photo by Katie Bijak.

If you live in West Lakeview/Roscoe Village, and were hoping to stay close to home for Chicago’s Restaurant Week, your options are somewhat limited. Fiorentino’s Cucina Italiana is the only participating restaurant in our area. Lucky for me, I’ve wanted to try Fiorentino’s since I moved to West Lakeview.

There is something so inviting about the quiet, seemingly secluded restaurant covered in ivy and lights on that busy, serviceable stretch of Ashland Avenue. So this past Saturday my sister and I started our Restaurant Week adventures at Fiorentino’s.

We started the night with cocktails rather than wine. I had the Negroni Sbagliato ($10). Rather than gin, Fiorentino’s makes their Negroni with Prosecco. My sister ordered the Manhattan Siciliano ($10) made, interestingly enough, with pistachio liqueur. Both drinks were much more light and fresh than a typical Negroni and Manhattan.

I enjoyed the flavor the pistachio liqueur added to the Manhattan much more than I enjoyed the Negroni, but I should admit that it is not the drink’s fault. I once purchased a bottle of Campari for a cocktail I wanted to try. At first taste, I could tell it was a liqueur that had an acquired taste that I haven’t yet acquired. Ever since then, I’ve been searching for the perfect Campari drink.

For restaurant week, Fiorentino’s offered two versions of their prix fixe menu, a $33 option and a $44 option. Restaurant Week ends Sunday, Feb. 27, so get in while you can.

Both menus share the same first course options. My sister chose the Polpo Carpaccio. The thinly sliced octopus, topped with diced potatoes, arugula and black olives, tasted light and looked so pretty. I chose the Butternut Squash soup, and it was delicious. It tasted of cream and cinnamon, making me think I had started with dessert.

For the second course I choose the Rigatoni alla Boscaiola, sweet Italian sausage, fresh mushrooms in a light tomato cream herb sauce. My sister, at the waiter’s recommendation, ordered the Brasato al Barolo, braised beef short ribs served with creamy gorgonzola mashed potatoes and sauteéd garlic string beans. The braised beef, as promised by the waiter, fell right off the bone, and my pasta was perfectly cooked.

We ended dinner with the Italian Bread Pudding, the Cannoli Dream, and cappuccinos. I’ve never been someone who enjoys bread pudding. I ordered it to swap with my sister since the bread pudding wasn’t an option on her menu (the $44 prie fixe). She saidt it wasn’t her favorite, but enjoyed the caramel sauce. I enjoyed the raisins that fell out of the bread. On the other hand, we both thoroughly enjoyed the deconstructed cannoli. I couldn’t resist cleaning the plate.

I’ve read mixed reviews for Fiorentino’s, but my first experience there was lovely. The atmosphere was comfortable, the staff was friendly, the service was quick and the food was perfect. There is something very cozy and comfortable about the lighting on the patio, and we were perfectly toasty surrounded by heat lamps, so toasty that it was a shock to outside into the 30 degree weather.

We both left feeling comfortably full—as you should after a well done Italian meal—but, thankfully not stuffed. I can’t wait to go back and try the lobster risotto!

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