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Fiorella's post-renovation (slightly longish)

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We went last night, our first visit since they reopened. It was packed at 8:15pm on a Wed night, but we hit it just as the rush was subsiding and were seated in <5 minutes. The renovation is quite lovely, although the space is a bit oddly laid out...when you enter the open kitchen is SMACK in front of you, and there is really nowhere to stand to wait. The other half of that room has some tables. Waitstaff serving in this room have to run back and forth from the kitchen to the tables right across the only path to the main dining room, so there's a bit of a chaotic feel. The larger dining area has the bar along the side, but there is no distinction between the bar and dining room so, again, it feels a little odd. Nice tile floors and sponged walls but, man, it is LOUD in there. They haven't completed installing sound panels in the larger room, so hopefully that will help.

Now onto the food: We enjoyed their breadstick basket made with their pizza dough and their marinara for dipping. House garden and field green/goat cheese/walnut salads were great.. nice crisp romaine for the house salad, although the house dressing was not as fresh tasting as the lemon vinaigrette that came with the field green salad. We have cheese ravioli and butternut squash agnollotti. Both were VERY fresh, slightly al dente and perfectly sauced. Really, I have to say that this was one of the best executions of stuffed pastas I've had in a while. They get them from somewhere in Medford.

All in all great...service was attentive, although it was tough for us to hold a conversation. We'll be back....for the price and quality, it still can't be beat ($40 before tip).

187 North St, Newtonville, MA 02460

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  1. Let me add one negative: They now have valet parking for their lot. I wouldn't use it, as I think it is absurd for a suburban restaurant with ample parking. Parked right across on the street for free. This comment was part of a larger thread bemoaning this new trend (valet parking at suburban spots), but that thread appears to have been removed by the powers that be.

    1. Thanks for the review. Through your description, it was easy for me to imagine being in the restaurant. (And I wish I were actually there to try the squash agnoletti!) Did you feel that they had a jump in the quality of their food, post-renovation?

      So what is the deal with the valet parking? is the parking that tough? Do they charge for it? Their web site makes no mention of it, so I wonder if it is a way to pad your bill.

      1 Reply
      1. re: czarp

        I only ate there once before, and it was a while ago. So I really can't comment on whether the food has changed. I'd be interested in hearing from others on this. As for the parking, they have an ample lot. I did not ask whether they charged for the valet parking or not. Either way, though, I wasn't going for it, since I would have to tip the valet even if the parking cost!

      2. Thanks so much for this post. I have some birthday "1 free entree" coupons to use, will report back if any food changes noticed. Valet parking for that spot, located on a sparsely populated road in a semi-industrial group of businesses, is absurd.

        8 Replies
        1. re: PaulB

          Looking forward to hearing about your experience, PaulB. I wrote a note to them via their website email to complain about the parking valet. Will report back if they reply.

          1. re: Science Chick

            Ok, they responded quickly and here's the skinny:

            "The valet parking is a requirement set by the board of Alderman of the City of Newton. It was not our choice and it is not an option to discontinue this service. As a courtesy to our valued customers the valet is in fact complimentary and optional. Most of our patrons appreciate the convenience of this service."

            So I guess you don't have to use it. As fir it being required, I guess that I am quite confused, as not a single other restaurant in Newton offers it, that I am aware of(?)

            1. re: Science Chick

              We were forced to go to the Met Bar (will not go back) -- they have valet parking.

              1. re: Duster17

                Pretty sure they are on the Brookline side of Chestnut Hill. There is so little parking around there, that valet actually makes sense in that location.

              2. re: Science Chick

                I have no doubt that when the restaurant applied for the necessary permits to renovate and expand, someone expressed concern about whether they had adequate parking, and that providing valet parking was negotiated with the Board to resolve the issue. Why don't you see that at other Newton restaurants? Well, perhaps Fiorella's operated with some kind of zoning variance that gives the Board of Alderman more leverage to demand things like this. It's hard to know.

                187 North St, Newtonville, MA 02460

                1. re: Blumie

                  Makes sense. I recall that when Deluxe Staion Diner was going for their permits, parking was a major issue for the city too.

                  1. re: Science Chick

                    The ironic thing is that I'm sure the alderman are concerned about parking because they don't want patrons parking on the street, but by mandating valet parking, more of us will park on the street rather than in the lot!

                    1. re: Science Chick

                      I haven't been to the restaurant since the renovation, but they've been anything but pretentious in the past so I doubt it was for appearances.
                      Actually, Polcari's in Woburn has valet also, and it's optional. I sometimes get a Regina pizza there and have never felt pressured to use it. I do see elderly folks use it, though. It's a tough parking lot.

                      Polcari's Restaurant
                      309 Montvale Ave, Woburn, MA 01801

            2. I'd be shocked if they are charging for the valet. However, even though their lot is big, I have seen it fill up. Moreover, although many of us find valet parking to be annoying, many people (generally the older population) consider it a sign of class.

              (In Los Angeles, as some here will know, valet parking is firmly engrained into the culture. There are many restaurants where you pull into the lot and see lots of empty spots right there, but you're forced to leave the car with the valet.)

              1 Reply
              1. re: Blumie

                I also find it pretentious. Go to restaurant, park car in attached lot, walk in. I don't need a valet, and will avoid a place that forces it on me.

                My $0.02.

              2. Quoted a 45 minute wait at 6pm Friday night, but as we went to order a drink the bartender offered us 2 seats at the bar... off to a good start! Notice at other area restaurants how the menu prices have jumped, for the same old food? Not here. The warm pizza dough bread steaks are great to munch on. The ceasar salad does not have raw egg or anchovy paste paste in it, so wifey dove right in - "delicious, fresh, bold, good crunch" .. I agreed. We got the antipasto salad too, plenty to share and the spicy eggplant compote has great flavor. Wifey got the veal saltimbocca, which she says was really nice; but you see, this dish served at La Cucina Sul Mare in Falmouth is wifey's holy grail. I didn't get a bite, I'll have to raid the leftovers. I had the swordfish over arugula topped with the signature marinara, the best $18 I've spent on a meal in a long time. Pumpkin cheesecake with caramel shared for dessert, grade A. We found the service top notch, and the new addition a huge improvement from the very cramped previous space.

                4 Replies
                1. re: hounda

                  Can't cope with the wait and the valet any more for an "easy" family dinner. We just get takeout from Fiorella's Express in Brighton if we want it quickly. The veal parm is just as good and they have my favorite goat cheese and candied walnut salad with lemon vinaigrette. If I'm just dying for the wood-burning oven we'll get takeout from the Newton location but it's hugely irritating to have to valet for that. Didn't see a spot just for takeout orders.

                  We still think the food is good but the crowds make sitting in the actual restaurant just too much.

                  187 North St, Newtonville, MA 02460

                  1. re: Scruffy The Cat

                    We went last weekend. Parked on the street easily, so no valet hassle. Were told a 30 min wait, so not bad for a Sat. night. Ended up snagging 2 seats at the bar and having a great meal. Calamari was the single best I've ever had....melted in my mouth! Extraordinarily tender, not greasy, and they fry the peppers along with the calamari, instead of dumping wet peppers on top, which I detest. Cesar salad and ravioli finished off a perfect meal. Bar was hopping, but Francesca was extremely attentive nevertheless.

                    1. re: Science Chick

                      you were REALLY lucky. recent saturday night at just before 6 were told 30 min wait for three, 45 min to get to the table over an hour for food to hit the table and thirty minutes to get a check. i actually asked for my main to be boxed for take-out just so we could get out of there. comped us dessert, which was nice. food is pretty good but not good enough for two and a half hours for food in a neighborhood italian joint . (also the median age in the place was 80)

                      1. re: hyde

                        I completely agree. When we started going there, maybe 8 years ago or so, we could just walk in and get a table. We all were happy at the very decent red-sauce Italian, but knew that it wasn't fine dining. Just a neighborhood joint with a good veal parm. An easy and reasonably priced night out with waitresses who didn't give us a hard time about having little kids with us. But now? Way too big a pain for the quality of the experience. I'm quite happy with the takeout from the Fiorella's express now. It does the job on those nights when I'm just too tired to cook.

                        187 North St, Newtonville, MA 02460

                2. Last night around 8:30 pm I decided to give it a try. The place was not very busy but the host seemed to have a hard time to decide where we were supposed to sit. We ordered one Pizza Margherita and one plate of Pasta Primavera Margherita. The pizza was the worst I had in a long time: it tasted stale and any frozen pizza at the supermarket would be better than this one...the pasta was well cooked but it was covered by this mountain of vegetables humangously cut that to me shows no respect of love for food. While I was eating my pizza a very pushy waitress came over and insisted that I needed to put fresh Parmesan cheese on my pizza so that it would have tasted much better...I said: NO!, but in retrospective.....

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Pappabuona

                    Old posting but since this place still comes up: I have to go this place occasionally because an older family member likes it. Aside from the excellent complementary garlic bread this place is really bad for anything beyond the chicken/veal parm expectations. Rarely decent service and even the stingy wine pours that have been mentioned in the past by others still piss me off...Someone else spoke about being offered fresh Parmesan cheese but either they were mistaken or that is new--as of a few months ago they did not have fresh parm available...

                    1. re: lovethatdirtywater

                      I don't see anyone talking about the Belmont location, but I can confirm that it, too, is no great shakes right now.