I spent a long time going back and forth on what I should do for this Halloween exclusive. I thought about trying out some really wild exotic foods, visiting a sweet shop, or going to a restaurant that also seems to do seances of some kind. But, what I finally settled on was the scariest, most dangerous idea of all. Yes, that’s right folks: In honor of Halloween, I decided to get into the spirit by going out for a full Italian meal.
I know this might not seem in-line with the theme, but just hear me out here: As someone who is both wheat and dairy intolerant, having a lot of pizza and pasta enter my system is essentially inviting my own personal plague. So, this afternoon, I threw all caution to the wind, lived life on the dark side, and freaking messed myself up at Fiorella.
The inside of the restaurant is friendly and inviting, with an atmosphere that is bright, clean, cozy, and comfortable. They operate “self-service” style, so customers go up to the counter to order and then get to seat themselves at a table of their choice.
Fiorella’s lunch menu is rather limited, but it happened to have exactly the sort of stuff I was looking for, so I was fine with the sparse selection. For phase one of my self-destruction, my friend Kristian and I split the cacio e pepe. Right off the bat, the pasta was cooked to a perfect al dente. The sauce was very rich and creamy with a light, tangy cheese flavor and, not to mention, lots of great cheese pull moments. I could have used a bit more flavor — intensifying any one of the elements (cheese, black pepper, or even just salt) would have done the trick for me. Overall, I found the dish homey and comforting. It was nothing extravagant, but it was exactly what I wanted and needed today. (Except for my digestive system … It did not need the pepe.)
On the side of our pasta, we got a meatball to taste. Though the meatball could have used a bit more seasoning, it was in the same comforting and satisfying boat that the pasta was in. I found the natural flavor of the meat really tasty — the overall meatball was dense in a hearty way. The tomato sauce was bright and complemented nicely by a ton of basil flavor. It seems like Fiorella is sourcing some great fresh ingredients.
As much as the cacio e pepe fulfilled the craving that I had at the time, the best thing we tasted was the pizza. We ordered a margherita pizza with pepperoni and it blew me away.
Everything about this pizza was perfectly executed and delicious. The crust was to die for. It was light and airy with the perfect amount of chewiness, a delicate outer crispiness, and delicious charring. Even the pepperoni on top was a bit charred, which intensified the flavor and gave a wonderful texture. The mozzarella was fresh and scrumptious. I can’t think of an alternative way to describe this other than to say that it had that very fresh “milky” flavor that great fresh mozzarella has. I almost thought I wanted a little more cheese on there, but the tomato sauce was just so lovely and fragrant that it would have been a shame to overpower it. As far as I can remember, this is the best pizza I’ve had in Rochester.
What’s great, too, is that Fiorella is pretty much located in the Public Market, so you can sit down for a great meal and then grab some wonderful local produce directly outside the front door. Or, if you’re feeling especially spooky and dangerous like I was, you can get your meal, go outside, get a donut from the donut truck, and then grab your fresh fruits and veggies. It wasn’t a great move for my health and wellbeing today or in the long-term, but I did it for Spooktober and I regret nothing.