Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Side Dish Steals the Show at Fiorella's

The other night I was treated to an intriguing dinner at Fiorella's in Newton, MA (

It's a pretty popular spot.  Despite heading there on a Tuesday night, we still had an hour wait.  They have a somewhat inconveniently located bar, situated in between their two dining areas.  We grabbed a bottle of wine to help pass the time, but hardly found enough of it to get a glass down.  We either were moving out of the way for the wait staff, or getting nudged by other inpatient customers the whole time.

When we finally got to our seats, we were served a basket of their fresh bread: thin pieces spiced with garlic and herbs and served with their bright marinara sauce.

To start out, we split an order of arancini, a fried ball of risotto stuffed with mozzarella cheese and served with marinara.  Risotto and cheese... two of my favorite things combined into one.  Despite my certainty that this could not possibly disappoint, it did.  The fried outside completely overtook the milder flavors contained within.  Even when I got a bite composed entirely of the inside, it didn't taste like anything.  In fact, I felt like I was eating fried white rice.  It had no texture, and very little taste.  

Luckily, the entrees were still to come.  I had ordered one of their specials of the night:  Chicken in a demi-glace accompanied by a stuffed acorn squash.  It is very unfortunate that this is not one of their regular menu items.

The tender chicken was settled in a mushroom demi-glace that was overpowered by the roasted red peppers that also rested in the sauce.  However, the real star was the stuffed squash.

It was cooked similarly to a twice baked potato.  The insides of the acorn squash were scooped out and mixed with ricotta and Parmesan cheese, as well as mushrooms, onions, and dried cranberries.  It was then put back into the shell of the squash, topped with pieces of toast and then baked.

It was a vibrant dish, full of flavor and texture.  The croutons on the the top were crisp from the oven, but had absorbed some of the juice from the mixture, so the bottom side was moist with gooey goodness.  The blended squash and cheese were complimented nicely by the added chew of the vegetables and berries.  Every bite was interesting.  Even when I had had more than my fill, I just kept stuffing my face.

My only complaint is that I did not see the connection between the chicken and the squash.  Although the flavors were great in each, there did not seem to be any reason why they were sharing a plate.  The squash could have been it's own dish, instead of taking second place to the chicken.  All in all though, this dish was a success... a nice recovery from that deceiving arancini.

It is reasonably priced, and overall we had a positive experience.  I'm sure we'll be making our way back at some point.  

And there's good news.  They have an express version of their restaurant in Brighton and Belmont (  Maybe the stuffed acorn squash can make its way there....

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