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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Peachy Picks Fabio Piccolo Fiore Our Coverage Sponsored by Fresh Origins

Fabio Hakill

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In Manhattan, there are restaurants, and then there are places that Peachy Deegan would venture to multiple times because not only is the cuisine phenomenal, but also it feels like home.  Maybe not her own home in this case, as she's not Italian, but a venue that makes you feel authentically welcome, greeting you with genuine kindness and in this case, extraordinary cuisine that will cause you to dream about waking up in a mountain of Shrimp and Lobster Risotto alla Fabio while sipping on an equally impressive 
Montepulciano like she did Chez Fabio (sorry Fabio, we don't know how to say that yet in Italian...all Mademoiselle Peachy can say is Amo Le Scarpe Italiane!).  Peachy awoke from that episode knowing that all that needs to be done to complete the dream is to return to 230 East 44th Street, which is also home to a soccer ball (or football, depending on how you look at it) signed by Michel Platini, a retired French fellow who used to play for Juventus in Torino...

Even Michel dines at Fabio Piccolo Fiore!

As you may or may not know, Peachy Deegan was originally a sportswriter so this added dimension of athleticism at Fabio Piccolo Fiore enticed us too.  Fabio Piccolo Fiore was first featured in Tasty Tidbits:

Today we are thrilled to say it has advanced to Peachy's Picks.  The top level cuisine by Fabio himself which is not only among the best Italian we've had but also may pride itself on its creativity, the certifiable care exhibited by Fabio Hakill and General Manager Giovanni Ferraioli throughout the evening from the moment Peachy walked in the door and was immediately greeted by both, and the beautiful decor complete with originality make us want to return again and again and add this to our list of homes!

We were immediately welcomed with some fantastically crisp bruschetta.  Open since April 1, 2007, Fabio Piccolo Fiore truly is one of the best Italian restaurants in Manhattan, not only in Midtown.

Fabio and Giovanni

Coming to New York in 1995, Fabio himself hails from Rome, while Giovanni is from the Amalfi coast (we had to ask him if he took windsurfing lessons from our friend Marco, who also has one of the best Italian restaurants in Manhattan.)

When the above is placed in front of you at Fabio Piccolo Fiore, that is when your trouble in decision making begins.  Thankfully, we discovered after trying quite a lot that you simply cannot go wrong here.  And, if you are a discriminating connoisseur who just has your heart set on something that you don't see on the quite full menu of four pages (not counting the wine list, not counting the dessert menu...), Fabio himself is happy to concoct whatever your little heart desires.  See, now doesn't that sound like what you'd want your home to be?  Fabio we hear was trained by his awesome cousin (we like to think we know all about awesome cousins) in Rome so if you go to Rome, check out where he was trained:
In fact, one of Peachy's cousins is soon going to Rome...

Crabcakes how we love you!  Let us count the ways.  Fabio clearly read this column before Peachy's arrival as you know she love love LOVES crabmeat.  However, in the past multitude of versions of reviews of crabcakes, from restaurant to restaurant there was admittedly more cake in them than at Fabio Piccolo Fiore.  That is actually better for you - less cake and more crab - and when you see the beautiful arrangement of crab highlighted by pineapple which is a lovely summer touch, you will be delighted by the freshness and simplicity which is simply divine.  You cannot walk away from Fabio Piccolo Fiore without indulging in the crabcake, which also is joined by fresh celery and roasted peppers.

Misto Caldo was Peachy's appetizer of choice!  Stuffed mushrooms, mussels, clams and shrimp are one seafood symphony awaiting your tastebuds, wonderfully seasoned.  The size is not overbearing enough to spoil your entree and this delicacy was just fantastic.  

Now hold onto your hats because this next course alone will make you ring up Fabio and place your reservation: Select Shrimp and Lobster over delicate risotto is named Shrimp & Lobster Risotto alla Fabio for a reason: this is his specialty!

This is what Peachy dreamt of waking up in a mountain of!  Every bite is supreme choice seafood bathing in the best risotto you'll ever have.  In fact, why go to Rome when you can just go to Fabio's.  This ambrosial concoction will have you returning for more, and more, and more....

We further torture you with a closeup.

In addition to the cuisine, you'll notice all of the aesthetics are taken care of as well.  It's not all Juventus-designed; amazing flower arrangements adorn the dining area and entrance. 

Chilean Sea Bass?! Yes, please!  Just dazzling in a sauce too decadent for words, every bite of this grilled perfection of fish delighted Peachy and silenced all conversation coming from her.  The broccoli was crisp and delicious and the fingerling potatoes get two thumbs up from this Irish kiddo.  We're not sure we've ever had a better Chilean Sea Bass.  

And, just as she thought she was winding down with entrees, Peachy was surprised by Fabio with the Bistecca Fiorentina: Grilled Tuscan steak - a rib eye!  Of course by this stage in the review you know we know that they totally know what they are doing at Fabio Piccolo Fiore and of course, they left the bone in the Rib Eye.  It was absolutely to-die-for and choosing your entree is one difficult choice.   But, you'll just have to go more than once!

Not only can you have a multiple course dinner of savory components at Fabio Piccolo Fiore, but also you can have dessert courses that will trump most other venues.  The classics?  They can do them.  Check out Peachy's preferred food group: chocolate.

The chocolate cake was gooey and decadent and couldn't have been better.
The Italian desserts?

The tiramisu was light and airy in addition to being fantastically delicious.
Do not overlook the crepe with fresh fruit and cheese:

Topped with whipped cream, you won't be able to resist this either.

We suggest balancing out with a cappuccino. Also tops.

Just when you think you cannot possibly eat one more bite,  Fabio will tell you something that will put you over the top like he makes his own sorbets.  You'd be so silly not to try them. And he is one serious sorbet-maker we might add.  As this is dinner review #160 for anyone counting, it is notable that all three sorbets he concocted have ever been tried by us anywhere: count points for creativity.  Cucumber sorbet-this is terribly refreshing in this killer heat wave.  Fig Sorbet-delightfully sweet and soothing.  And the grand finale?  Rosemary sorbet.  You know Peachy is not a fan of weird and though that sounds a little strange, let us assure you it is elegant, fragrant, and what we would be eating if we were going to have Breakfast at Tiffany's looking in a window, nevermind the roll Holly was into.  

What else can we say?  Eating at Fabio Piccolo Fiore is akin to scoring a goal in overtime of the playoffs!  It is even nicer to know that amidst all this fine food is a sincerely nice person behind it all: Fabio.  The food tastes better when you know the people...and you like them!

Our esteemed panelist adds:
Tucked away on East 44th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues, far (enough!) away from the hustle-bustle of Times Square, sits a true treasure of NYC cuisine. Fabio Piccolo Fiore, which opened in April, 2007, provides an serene and elegant atmosphere, fantastic food, and a chef/owner, Fabio Hakill, who takes an immense amount of pride in his establishment - which we know makes for a top-notch dining experience. When we arrived, we were greeted by general manager Giovanni, who got us settled at the perfect table in a quiet area toward the front of the restaurant. As we perused the menu, we were served delicious bruschetta, which was followed by a lovely assortment of bread, accompanied by olive paste. The olive pasted, made from green olives, garlic, and olive oil was the perfect, tasty accompaniment to the thick, crusty bread. I chose to sip on a Montepulciano as I weighed my dinner options - the menu offers a such a terrific variety of Italian cuisine that it was tough to decide on what to order! Luckily, Chef Fabio stopped by our table to discuss the menu with us and help us make our decisions. He insisted that we try his crab cake to begin, which he said would be different from any other crab cake we'd had before - and boy, are we glad he steered us in this direction! More crab than cake, this was a delectable mound of warm, tender lump crab meat, combined with diced red peppers and sweet and tangy pineapple! 

 Next, I tried the Insalata di Liguria, which Chef Fabio said was one of his signature dishes. This combination of crab meat, asparagus, roasted peppers, avocado, and mesclun salad was another hit. The different textures and flavors of the ingredients played off of each other beautifully, making for a true treat for the taste buds. 

 Next up, it was our pasta course, for which we opted to share the Shrimp & Lobster Risotto alla Fabio. With this dish, it was truly love at first bite. 

 The risotto was perfectly cooked, and luxuriously creamy, and filled with fresh crab meat and sweet, buttery chunks of lobster. Yum!! I followed the risotto with the Filetto al Pepe Verde, which was filet mignon with green peppercorns and brandy.

 This was another hit - the meat was beautifully prepared and perfectly tender, and the brandy and peppercorn sauce was out of this world! Chef Fabio also prepared the Bistecca Fiorentina for us to try, and this was equally as delicious. 

 A seasoned and grilled ribeye served with homemade French fries, this was a classic dish done to absolute perfection. Full as we were from our outstanding meal, we couldn't resist Chef Fabio's offer of his homemade desserts. For this, we were served a smorgasbord of tiramisu, warm chocolate cake, and a strawberry & nutella crepe, as well as a trio of homemade sorbets in the unique flavors of fig, rosemary, and cucumber. Again, Chef Fabio absolutely outdid himself. 

The tiramisu was made (as Giovanni explained) in the true Italian way - less egg, which gives it a lighter, fluffier texture, and it was one of the best I've ever had. The warm chocolate cake was over flowing with warm, gooey, chocolate-y goodness, and the crepe was a fantastic combination of flavors. And the sorbets!! As gaga as we were over the rest of the desserts, the sorbets ended up being the stars! Each was filled with the most perfect essence of its flavor, without being overbearing or cloyingly sweet - the perfect ending to a remarkable meal. Highest accolades to Chef Fabio, Giovanni, and the rest of the staff at Fabio Piccolo Fiore on providing us with a wonderful dining experience from start to finish. 

Peachy Picks Fabio Piccolo Fiore!

Fabio Piccolo Fiore is Highly Recommended by Whom You Know.

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