Monday, December 27, 2010

Floriana Reborn

To Die For: ambience

You don’t notice it at first. Entering the tiny bar in the basement, a short flight of stone stairs below street level, you still feel like you have stumbled in on the best party ever. This time of year, it’s especially festive. As you are led upstairs to your table in the cozy dining room, you may not notice that the walls are a slightly lighter hue, not quite a deep a red as before. The difference is subtle. It’s only when you open your menu that you can no longer escape what has happened: Floriana has been reborn!

While still nominally Italian, both the graphic style of the menu and its culinary offerings have changed. The familiar trope of Italian home cooking has been shot through with the energy of a young Brazilian chef who wants you to try new creations. He has been hired by Dino, Floriana’s son, who bought the restaurant from his mom in April 2010. Floriana put up a brief resistance to Dino’s brash new ideas, but soon decided she was ready to move on: as of October, she relocated to Mexico with a new husband.

The new menu still has pasta, but the once signature lasagna is downplayed now, in favor of goat bolognese and pork belly ravioli. Mussels have appeared. And, blurring the boundaries between the new world and the old, dishes like moquesa de pesce – a Brazilian fish stew made with coconut milk and rice croquettes -- and duck ropa vieja with Arborio rice, black beans and fried plantains – a distinctly Cuban riff -- are now on offer.

Well, why not? To be honest, I felt the new chef was still finding his sea legs, but the place has an invigorated feel to it, and it still is hard to beat its fun and cozy atmosphere. For that reason, the new Floriana is “bloggable” in the sense that this blog uses the term, and I am looking forward to giving it another try.

Floriana on Urbanspoon

No comments: