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Facci (Montpelier near JHU/APL in Laurel)

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Warthog Feb 9, 2010 06:55 AM

I had previously posted about Facci based on their pizza, which was not to my liking. Those curious about that, see the canonical Baltimore pizza thread. That said, in those two posts, I mentioned that the pasta dishes I saw going by looked promising. I even conjectured that with the look of the place and good Italian, they could give Pasta Plus some competition.

I've now tried a few of their appetizers and pasta dishes on subsequent visits, and I think my initial impression was right - go for the pasta, not the pizza. I particularly liked the Orecchiette Vittorino, with its spicy interplay of garlic, sausage, broccoli rabe and chili peppers over "little ear" pasta, and the Papardelle Bolognese. For those whose only exposure to supposed "Bolognese" sauce is something akin to plain old marinara with some ground beef tossed in, the complexity of this more traditional version (the use of milk or cream is evident) will be a pleasant surprise. While the usual "pseudo-Bolognese" is usually seen in restaurants over spaghetti, here it is served over the wide, flat, papardelle, which is the sort of pasta that (along with tagliatelle) is the more traditional sort of choice for a Bolognese

I'd also suggest the Italian Boat appetizer for a really nice antipasti assortment of cheeses, olives, grilled vegetables, cured meats and mortadella. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that during my visits, they had a half-price appetizer deal as an early bird or Happy Hour special, though I'm not sure what the cut-off time is, or whether this will be a regular on-going deal.

If you like soup, I found both the Italian Wedding soup and the Cream of Crab to be nice examples of their respective types.

The only slight disappointment during my "pasta, not pizza" visits were the desserts and a change to the bread from prior visits. The desserts I've tried were OK, not exceptional. For cannoli fans, I'm told they're using Vacarro's. The bread on my first visit was slices of a sort of a rustic sort of Italian variant on a baguette. Crusty, chewy, coarsely textured, very flavorful and absolutely wonderful dunked in the olive oil provided. On the recent visits, this bread has been replaced by a slightly different sort that has been lightly toasted. While nice, it's not memorable, especially when one knows what that first bread they were serving was like.

If any of the owners read this - PLEASE bring back the bread you were serving early on!!!!

I still think the pizza needs some work to warrant the price point, but one's tastes in pizza styles is a rather personal thing. If you like Facci's pizza, all the better. But despite the push on their menu for the pizza as their flagship dish, don't ignore the rest of the menu, which is where the real treasure lies, in my opinion.

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    skipper RE: Warthog Feb 9, 2010 03:23 PM

    I believe that Facci is owned by the same people who own Pasta Plus.

    1 Reply
    1. re: skipper
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      Warthog RE: skipper Feb 9, 2010 04:47 PM

      I thought the owners were/are involved in the local mini-chain Pasta Blitz, not Pasta Plus. I could be wrong.

    2. h
      HowChowBlog RE: Warthog Feb 9, 2010 05:23 PM

      I'm completely with you that Facci is a great addition. You and I are in step on the pasta and the Italian boat, which are terrific, and on the bread, which was interesting at first and has been replaced by something okay. Next time, try the ravioli, which they make in the kitchen. I dont' normally go out for pasta because I figure that I can make so much at home. But this was absolutely worth the trip.

      Personally, I love the pizzas. We went Sunday and split three pies for four people. We had more than enough food, but I kept knocking off pieces as everyone else chatted. I enjoy the charred crust, and I love the Italian meats. Love those Italian meats.

      These folks own the Pasta Blitz in Clarksville, and this was a Pasta Blitz until they changed the menu and renovated last month.

      8 Replies
      1. re: HowChowBlog
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        Warthog RE: HowChowBlog Feb 10, 2010 06:21 AM

        HowChow,

        Charred crust, you say? Hmmm... Maybe they're getting dialed in on the pizza with time. When I tried the pizza, the crust was very similar in both texture and flavor to that original bread - a bit too bread-y for my preferences. Nice, but not what I'm looking for in a pizza, especially a high-end price-point one. If they're now getting some char on the crust and (I hope) getting the crust thinner, especially around the edges, they may be getting closer to the result that one would expect from a wood-fired oven and the whole Neapolitan standards approach. After all, it took Joe Squared in Baltimore a bit of time to get the knack for their new oven when it was installed.

        1. re: Warthog
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          skipper RE: Warthog Feb 10, 2010 11:12 AM

          Sorry, I meant Pasta Blitz, its predecessor in the space.

          1. re: Warthog
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            HowChowBlog RE: Warthog Feb 16, 2010 03:11 AM

            I think the charred crusts are a real talent. Coal Fire in Ellicott City gets really mixed reviews, and my experience suggests that your pizza depends on who was making them when you ordered. Some people are really skilled. Some people are learning.

            So far, I have only had good pizzas at Facci.

          2. re: HowChowBlog
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            steinre1 RE: HowChowBlog Feb 10, 2010 11:42 AM

            Any truth to the rumor that they are thinking of changing the Pasta Blitz in Clarksville to a Facci as well?

            1. re: steinre1
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              HowChowBlog RE: steinre1 Feb 16, 2010 03:12 AM

              I talked to the owner before the Facci had opened. I think he said that he had no plan at that time to change the Clarksville location, but he hoped the Facci idea would take off. Have you heard that they're going to actually renovate and install an oven in Clarksville?

              1. re: HowChowBlog
                Pool Boy RE: HowChowBlog Feb 16, 2010 05:17 AM

                Tried to get there, on a whim, to try it this past Saturday night....filled with families and people trying to do Valentine's Day a night early. 1.5+ hour wait, no thanks. Seriously, why do more places not offer reservations (a la Opentable or other)?

                Ended up at Sapphire back in Laurel and had a delicious meal.

                Still, I'll be back to try the place soon. Could anyone compare their pizza with real honest to goodness Italian pizza (very thin crust, a light hand on all of the toppings (cheese and especially sauce included)?

                TIA

                1. re: Pool Boy
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                  Warthog RE: Pool Boy Feb 16, 2010 10:20 AM

                  I've not been to Italy, so I can't comment authoritatively. That said, see the "Top five Pizzas in Baltimore" thread for my comments.

                  In brief - good dough, but they go for the "thick, chewy rim" approach, rather than thin crust all the way out to the edges. I tried them early, so they may have adjusted, but the pizzas I had were much more on the "chewy crust" end of the spectrum, rather than the delicate balance between chewy and crisp/char.

                  On the "light hand with toppings", I'd say the ingredients are of high quality, and they hit a reasonably good balance between the crust and the various ingredients. I think they may be a little heavier on the toppings and/or the cheese than the ideal, but not by much.

                  On the whole, I think the crust is the biggest issue for somebody with your expressed preference. If they get a little thinner (especially the chewy rim), and/or get the right balance between chewy and crispy, they will have a solid product, IMO. Even so, different people like different styles of pizza, and others have indicated that they like the pizza as it is.

                  That said, the owners indicate that they are aiming to fully comply with the Italian standards, so at least they are aspiring to be the sort of pizza you are looking for. I've been to Facci a few times now, and each time, I've had multiple people from the staff soliciting feedback. So if you go, and you have suggestions, they seem genuinely interested in what people like and what they should change.

                  1. re: Warthog
                    Pool Boy RE: Warthog Feb 17, 2010 06:08 AM

                    Thanks for the info. I will definitely give them a try...it's worth at least that.

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