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High-End Italian Meets the Laid-Back Berkshires

Nichole Dupont

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.

Fiori is operated by brothers Alexander and Matthew Feldman at 47 Railroad St. Serving dinner daily beginning at 6; expected to open for lunch this summer. Find out more by calling 413-528-0351 or friend them on Facebook.

"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.

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