High-End Italian Meets the Laid-Back Berkshires
Fiori more than fills the empty void at the end of Railroad Street.
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — The haunting of Railroad Street has come to an end, hopefully. The dark shell of Pearl's, which has stood empty for nearly two years, is now bustling with a stylish crowd and an impressive menu of new Italian classics.
Enter Fiori, which opened recently at the "bottom" of Railroad Street. Of course, I wanted to go in on opening day and do my little write-up then, but reviewing a restaurant when its first opens is, I feel, in bad form. So, last week when a friend suggested that we meet at the bar for a drink, my curiosity got the better of me.
"Of course, sounds great," I said, thinking that I was being rather gallant by steeling myself against ordering any food, because then I'd absolutely have to write a review.
When I arrived there, I was relieved to discover that my usual attire of jeans and black T-shirt was actually fine. In fact, the place was crawling with jeans and T-shirt folks (one was even wearing a baggy sweat shirt) just looking to eat some good food. But, again, I was not there to eat, just to sip a cocktail and watch everyone's dishes go sailing by leaving the delicious fumes behind to torture me.
Needless to say, the torture didn't last long. I tried sipping my Old-Fashioned with indifference, until my friend piped up.
"You want to get some apps or something? I'm a little hungry."
And that was that. Before I knew it I was looking at a little bar menu (on very nice card stock, I might add) deciding on whether I wanted the cheese plate, the fries with garlic anchovy sauce or the duck liver pate over crispy bread. I finally settled on the pate and this curious little dish that sounded so intriguing I had to try it — anchovy-stuffed sage leaves fried with a panko breading. How could I not. My friend ordered the fries with the sauce and scallops from the dinner menu.
"I'm not trying to impress anyone tonight," she said.
We waited and chatted and enjoyed the general feeling of vibrancy around us. Once our pungent order came, it was all business. In fact, we didn't even try to carry on a conversation for the first 10 minutes. We just savored and sighed.
The pate, which is always an acquired taste, was the perfect mix of salt and the mild, irony tinge of all things liver-related. It was served on warm bread (spread for you) and that warmth seemed to allow the flavors of the pate to mix and soften. After taking a few bites of that farm-y deliciousness, it was time to move on to the anchovies. What struck me immediately was the breading. It was practically greaseless and when I bit into it, my mouth did not fill up with the oil that usually comes out of such a dish. In fact, the panko breading was just a formality compared to the explosion of sage on the palette. It seemed that the flavor would stop there, but the anchovy in the middle immediately dissolved the taste of the sage so that all that remained was a salty, herbal taste on the roof of the mouth.
"You've gotta try one of these," I said, pushing the basket of little fish to my friend. She dove in and had three while I took liberties with her saucy fries.
Don't be intimidated by Fiori's Manhattan, hipster-esque reputation (thanks to Pearl's). Although the high-end Italian cuisine gives pause, especially to local diners, it also encourages you to eat with your hands and savor every bite.
|Tags: Fiori, Great Barrington|
Mezze Sets Date For Opening Of New Location
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Mezze Restaurant Group announced Wednesday that the Mezze Bistro + Bar will open for business at its new 777 Cold Spring Road location on Monday, June 7.
The restaurant will be open at its current 16 Water Street location through Sunday, May 16, then it will be closed for two weeks to complete the transition into the new space. Mezze Restaurant Group purchased the Cold Spring Road property, which was previously Jae's Inn, in April 2009. Since the purchase, interior and exterior renovations have been made to the building in keeping with sustainable building practices.
“The Cold Spring Road property aligns our values and mission with the greater goal of food as culture,” said Nancy Thomas, co-owner of Mezze Restaurant Group along with Bo Peabody. “This move allows us to better put into practice our farm-to-table mission and our relationship to the environment."
In March, the Board of Selectmen paved the way for Mezze's change in location.
|Tags: Mezze Bistro + Bar|
Berkshire Grown Ramps up for 'Farmed and Foraged'
Photo courtesy of Guido's Fresh Marketplace, Jamie O'Brien, photographer.
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — In celebration of the spring season, Berkshire Grown will host "Farmed and Foraged: A Weekend of Spring Flavors," a culinary celebration of farmed and foraged seasonal foods at area restaurants from Friday, May 21, through Sunday, May 23.
The celebration highlights Berkshire Grown restaurants that have made a commitment to source wild and local edibles from area forests, fields and farms at the start of the growing season, which is a challenge for chefs in the Northeast.
This year, Berkshire Grown will feature 23 restaurants throughout the region. Participants will offer an array of prix fixe menus and a la carte selections to celebrate this farm-to-table dining event. Menus will feature wild edibles, locally grown produce, Berkshire artisan cheeses, heritage breed meats, locally made bread and chocolate, and Berkshire-crafted beer and spirits. Dates of participation, menu and a la carte offerings and pricing will vary at each location.
"We’re excited to see many more restaurants participating in this year’s Farmed and Foraged event," said Barbara Zheutlin, executive director of Berkshire Grown. "This is an opportunity for community members to celebrate spring by supporting our local restaurants and farms and tasting some wild edibles they’ve been hearing about but may not have tried before."
Participating restaurants include Allium Restaurant and Bar, Baba Louie’s, Brix Wine Bar, Castle Street Café, EnlightenNext, Gramercy Bistro@Mass MoCA, Guido’s Fresh Marketplace, Gypsy Joynt, Haven Cafe & Bakery, John Andrews Restaurant, La Terrazza Restaurant at Gateways Inn, Mexican Radio, Mezze Bistro and Bar, Mission Bar and Tapas, Napa Wine Bar and Restaurant, Nudel, Perigee, Stagecoach Tavern, The Inn at Sweet Water Farm, The Old Inn on the Green, The Red Lion Inn and The Williamsville Inn.
"We are encouraging everyone to come out and try delicious dishes highlighting the local harvest. Although our crops are limited at this time of year, the fiddleheads and ramps, the maple syrup and mushrooms, and the meats, cheeses and breads make for an exceptional meal, especially when prepared by our region’s extraordinarily talented chefs," said Zheutlin. "Berkshire Grown member restaurants are committed to the ‘buy local’ mission and this enticing event is one not to be missed."
Baba Louie’s, Castle Street Cafe, Guido’s Fresh Marketplace, Mezze Restaurant Group, The Red Lion Inn, Williams College Dining Services and the Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives at Williams College are official sponsors.
A full listing of offerings from participating restaurants is here.
Last year’s event inspired the Pioneer Valley to participate. This year, Bistro Les Gras of Northampton and Hope and Olive of Greenfield will offer Farmed and Foraged menus. For more information, contact the restaurants directly.
|Tags: Berkshire Grown|