Sunday, September 23, 2012

Letizia's Fiore

I first encountered Letizia Sorano several years ago when she opened an Italian Bakery and Coffee House in Wicker Park, Letizia's Natural Bakery.  I will grant that Italian pastries are not as elaborate or ornate as French pastries but they are very fresh and good and go well with a dark Italian roasted coffee.  Over time, they added paninis and eventually opened a restaurant and wine bar, Enoteca Roma, next to the bakery.  I was very excited when I heard that she was opening up a restaurant and wine bar in my neighborhood.  It took a while but after about two years, Letizia's Fiore finally opened and while it has been over a year since it has opened, I finally made it here for dinner recently.  The building is two stories with a stucco exterior and a painting of purple flowers on the front and side walls.  There are two exterior dining areas, a small area in the front with a few tables and a much larger area along the side of the building.  Entering the building, you will first encounter the wine bar.  There is a bar on one side of the room with a wine rack and a brick oven behind it.  There is seating at the bar and at a few tables in the room.  The dining room is a large room beyond the bar.  I wasn't looking for anything fancy so I sat at a small table in the bar and listened to the light 70's rock that played in the background.  As this was a wine bar, I was going to drink some wine, and as you might expect, as it was an Italian wine bar, the wines that it featured were from Italy.  It was pretty cool though, for the list, they had a map of Italy and there was a wine from every region.  While I am not a wine expert in any stretch of the imagination, I am familiar with a few wines and know a few styles that I like.  I had had and liked Sicilian wine before and as I was planning on ordering some Sicilian food, I thought it would match well.  For my wine I ordered a Caruso & Minini Inzolia 2009, which was crisp and a little tart.  For my food I had to go with the Arancini.  Ever since I first heard of Arancini, I have had to order them when I see them on a menu.  What they are are stuffed and deep fried risotto balls.  I had heard many good things about the arancini here, so I had to order it.  I had a choice of Italian Sausage or Spinach and Mushroom.  I thought the spinach and mushroom would go better with the wine so that is what I ordered.  As you can see, three arancini were served with marinara sauce and a little cheese.  They were crisp and browned on the outside, but the risotto on the inside was slightly green (from the spinach) and very tender.  It was also stuffed with mushrooms and mozzarella.  It was very good even if a little tricky to eat.  I essentially had to split it open and fork it from the inside out.  The arancini are a definite win and I will definitely order them again.

For my main course, I was a little torn because there were several things that really looked good.  I figured though that since this place is a pizzeria that makes Neapolitan Pizzas, that would probably be the way to go.  I ordered a Rucola Pizza which started with Arugula (hence the name), sliced cherry tomatoes, Limoncello Dressing, and shaved Parmagiano.  I also added Speck (cold smoked prosciutto) because while it did sound good to me as it was.  I did want something a little more substantial than a salad on flat bread.  I will say that I thought that the individual ingredients were very good.  It was difficult though, to have a bite that contained everything though because there was nothing that was holding it together.

I would have liked to have shown a picture of my dessert because it was a thing of beauty but my phone decided it was time to conk out on me so I was unable to get one.  I got a slice of Dark Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cake.  It was very dark and had a thick topping of ganache on top.  It was topped with chocolate syrup and the plate was dusted with cocoa powder.  It was dense and bittersweet, and while visually it was not obvious that it was a raspberry cake, you could taste raspberries in every bite.  As I said, it looked beautiful but I think it may have tasted even better than it looked.

I really liked Letizia's Fiore and will definitely be back.  The food was very good, I will definitely have to have more arancini, the staff was friendly, and I do think it would be a nice place to learn more about Italian wines that you might want to become more familiar with.


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