Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Florimonte's Deli

Restaurant review: Florimonte's Fine Foods & Deli
Fast food doesn't have to be about french fries


October 18, 2006
I've heard a lot of good things about Florimonte's Fine Foods & Deli in Williamsburg, so I was eager to give the place a try. I'm thinking, OK, how good can a deli be, right?
Well, as promised by the name, this eatery is way more ambitious than your average deli - fine foods indeed.You'll find pizza, a slew of prepared foods, salads, sandwiches, soups, and don't forget dessert. Walk through the connected café and you'll find a bakery with an assortment of tasty treats, breads and coffee. They also have a small grocery featuring wines, sauces and an assortment of other packaged items. The concept is simple - they prepare the food and you buy it for take-away or eat in - it's the decision-making process that's difficult.
Everything looked delicious, so while we perused the display cases and frozen food section, we requested a white pizza with spinach and ricotta cheese ($13.49) to take home.To be fair, we wanted to sample a cross section of offerings.Here's what we ordered (and had plenty of leftovers): one polenta with roasted red peppers ($2.95), one risotto cake ($2.59), one salmon with crab meat ($6.49), one chicken cordon bleu ($5.99), half-pound green bean salad ($7.99 a pound), half pound fresh mozzarella and tomato with pesto ($7.99 a pound), a cannoli ($2.49) and an apple strudel ($3.29).
In an effort to avoid looking like complete pigs in the cafe, we toted our goodies home and proceeded to revel in our smorgasbord dinner. The sizable triangle of polenta (a mush of cornmeal) was smooth and flavorful with the roasted red peppers. This was one of my favorites. The risotto cake (Italian rice) was pan-fried, full of rice and held together well. Both were best heated briefly in the microwave. The woman behind the counter kindly made sure we knew that she included marinara sauce for dipping. The sauce was not too thick with plenty of visible seasoning and onion. The salmon presentation - a filet wrapped in a circle around a healthy serving of crabmeat - was outdone by the flavor. The well-seasoned shredded crab made an excellent complement to the flaky fish. There wasn't much filler and I detected a trace of saltiness, which I love.
For the cordon bleu, the large tender chicken cutlet was filled with ham and cheese and lightly breaded. With a side or two, the offering is enough to share.Equal parts ripe tomato chunks and fresh hunks of mozzarella were tossed with (not swimming in) a delicious pesto. The bean salad, with yellow and green crisp beans mixed with onion, had a slight tang. These two make nice side salads for a main dish.Small samplings of the former left me just enough room to try the awesome looking pizza. An 18-inch dough was drizzled with olive oil and covered with mozzarella, chopped spinach and large dollops of ricotta cheese. No pizza sauce necessary here. The combination of toppings with the thin, chewy crust made for one fine pie.
A bite of the cannoli rendered a rich, creamy ricotta filling in a tubular pastry with a hint of cinnamon. Delicioso! The large slice of strudel filled with tender chunks of apple was mighty tasty with coffee in the morning.
Mark Florimonte and Martin Liechti have done a commendable job of creating an alternative to "fast" food with well-prepared offerings at reasonable prices.

Food: 4/5 starsAtmostphere: 4/5 starsService: 4/5 stars


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