Saturday, August 2, 2014


At lunch at the Ox and Stone, one of my dining companions picked up the dish towel trendily used as a napkin and mentioned that she had recently eaten at another restaurant that did the same thing: Fiamma.  About a week later, we were in Gates as a family and in search of lunch.  I Yelped our area and … ta-dah … Fiamma came up.  Kismet, I thought, and we were off.

From the outside, Fiamma doesn't look super promising: in an unnamed strip mall on Buffalo Road.  Then, you walk inside, and it looks like a super trendy osteria in New York, and it smells like heaven: warming dough, garlic, simmering broth.  Wow!

We plunked down at a table with mismatched chairs in a rustic room lit by funky chandeliers.  Our server described the specials, which included a roasted fig salad and a creamy zucchini cheese soup.  The menu--both sides--overflowed with dishes we'd come back to eat every day: pizzas, homey baked pastas, crispy chicken cutlets.  Drool!

I ordered the zucchini soup, which was like the world's comfiest duvet in bowl form.  The zucchini floated in a creamy garlicky broth that had a great peppery hit.  And, it was just lovely: a soft buttery yellow punctuated by hints of green and decorated with parsley and parmesan.  The whole table ate it. 

The salad went to my husband: it was huge!  A mound of greens surrounded by roast figs and cherries offset with a sharper olive oil vinaigrette.  Easily shared.  Knowing each of the kids was ordering a separate pizza (oy!), he stopped with the salad.  

I ordered pasta e fagioli azzecatta, which translates to a pie plate of baked mixed pastas with creamed canellini beans, prosciutto and a bit of marinara.  What it tasted like was the meal your imaginary Italian grandma would make you if you needed a hug in pasta form.  So, so good.  And, enough to feed our entire table.  In fact, it did.  Everyone ate some (and my daughter still had some left over for breakfast the next day).

My son ordered a Diavola pizza: a perfect crust topped with spicy olive oil, tomato sauce, mozzarella, and spicy soppressata.  The server warned him it had a kick; he just smiled.  When it came, he was unstoppable.  The pizzas arrive uncut; you cut the slices as you wish.  He may as well have just cut the pizza in half and folded it.  
My daughter ordered a Caprese pizza.  It was delicious, but not what she had expected.  Which was?  Who knows.  Sometimes she just fixes on a menu item and won't be moved, even when someone else at the table knows what she would like better (ahem, that would be me).  She ate a couple pieces of her pie half heartedly.  I scooped some of my pasta on a little plate and passed it over.  Stars lit up the table and she wound up eating three plates full.  (I may not be Italian or a grandma, but I still have my ways.)

The service was outstanding: friendly, water glass always filled, warm.  Very welcoming.

What can I say?  The only thing wrong with Fiamma is that it's all the way in Gates.  But that won't stop us!

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