Location: 638 17 Ave SW
Tonight after work, I was pleasantly surprised when we arrived at Fiore Cantina. I had walked and driven by on several occasions, always wondering if the food was any good. I was happy to finally be trying it out. We arrived at Fiore for an early dinner and found the restaurant to be quite empty with the exception of four or five other tables, so we were quickly seated and presented with a menu. Though the menu was not huge like Chianti’s or Boston Pizza, it didn’t give the feeling that there was no choice. Once we were seated, the waitress came immediately to fill up our glasses, but neglected to ask if we wanted anything else to drink.
We started with a calamari, as we often do because it is one of my favourite appetizers. For our mains, my dad and I had the Combo Italiana, my mom had the Bocconcini Pizza and my sister had the Tortellini Bombay. We didn’t have to wait long for the calamari to arrive at our table. Though the menu specified that we had a choice of marinara or tzatziki sauce, the waitress didn’t ask and just brought us the tzatziki sauce. Personally, I didn’t mind the tzatziki because it was fresh and the cucumbers added a cool refreshing aftertaste in my mouth. My dad would have preferred the marinara because, as he said, it would have provided a bit of acidity to counter the deep fried oiliness of the calamari. The calamari itself was lightly breaded and had a wonderful, audible crunch to it. The only issue I had with it was that it was unevenly seasoned, leaving some pieces saltier than others.
The Combo Italiana, is not unlike Chianti’s Combinazione della Casa. This dish is a trio, in a sense, a sampler of three different pastas. Like Chianti’s, it features a veal stuffed cannelloni, spinach fettuccine alfredo, and chicken parmesan. Unlike the Combinazione della Casa, it was hot, but also unlike the Cominazione della Casa, the spinach fettuccine was very piece, in other words, it was like the pasta had been broken into little bits to fit into the pot to be cooked and served. Firstly, if I order fettuccine, I expect it to be in one strand. Secondly, when I order any kind of pasta at an Italian restaurant, I expect it to be al dente…it was not. The cream sauce was rather bland and not as rich as an alfredo sauce ought to be. Frankly, the fettuccine component of the dish was an utter disappointment, making me glad that I didn’t decide to order the fettuccine alfredo instead of the Combo Italiana. This dish, however, was not a complete disappointment. The cannelloni and chicken parm were done perfectly; they were moist and flavourful and the cheese was so stringy! My sister’s tortellini was another dish I was contemplating ordering, but decided against it when it listed that it would be served with broccoli. The curry cream sauce gave Chianti’s curry cream sauce a run for its money, but Fiore has the upper hand on this one in that the curry cream had a bit more heat than Chianti’s, which is something I expect from curry. The unfortunate thing is that the curry cream was the star of the dish not the tortellini. The tortellini itself was rather dry. We had difficulty discerning what the ground up meat inside was. Upon rechecking the menu, it stated it was chicken, but either way, it was overcooked, while the pasta was a little under. And broccoli is broccoli, there’s nothing good, bad, or exciting I can say about that. I would have to say the best dish of the night was my mom’s bocconcini pizza. She opted to add bacon to it. In the end we all agreed that that had been unnecessary and having the pizza as it was would have been just as good. The pizza was almost as good as the ones that we had in Italy. The crust was perfectly crispy. I’m glad it wasn’t burnt like it was in Italy. There wasn’t too much on the pizza and therefore, the crust didn’t get soggy like the pizza my mom had at Pulcinella’s. The bocconcini pizza was essentially a caprese salad on a pizza minus the balsamic vinegar reduction, which was fine. The only thing was, was that the bacon made the pizza really salty. So again, it really wasn’t necessary to add it.
The restaurant is self-described as being modern Italian and the restaurant’s interior really reflects that. It is different from most Italian restaurants because there aren’t heavy velvet curtains covering the window and there are lots of windows to let in natural light. My only concern was the torch like contraption by our table…it was being held by two thin coils of metal. I was afraid that it would fall on us. It was probably a completely irrational fear, but anyways.
The biggest thing for me for Italian restaurants is how well they prepare their pasta. If they can’t prepare it to perfection, it’s no different from going to a burger joint and ordering a pasta there. For that reason, I’d rate this place 3/5.