Small Bites

Runs in the family: Anthony Cerrato, owner of Fiore’s, with his father, Fred. Photos by Jonathan Welch

Fiore's expands

Fiore's Ristorante Toscana, Anthony Cerrato's classic Italian restaurant, is opening a second location in Arden at 2310 Hendersonville Road.

But don't expect to see a carbon copy of Ceratto's downtown eatery.

"It's going to be pretty different, actually," he says of Fiore’s South: Italian Comfort Food. For one, even though the menu will feature the same comfortable Italian fare, the restaurant will offer some of the items in portions ranging from half-orders to family-style platters. And for family-style service, Cerrato says, salads and pastas will be served in rustic, homemade bread bowls.

And the new Fiore's will feature a small grab-and-go market, Cerrato says, featuring many of the baked and handmade products made daily at Fiore's — think handmade noodles and sauces.

As part of the convenience dishes the restaurant will be offering, Cerrato has created a number of take-and-bake items. "We're offering an al forno section, which means 'to bake' in Italian," he says. The selection will include lasagnas, pizzas, pizza dough and more. Homemade sauces and toppings for the pizzas will be available, along with desserts and breads — basically all of the elements of a big Italian family-style meal. Most of those handmade goods will be made on a marble table in view of the customers, says Cerrato, who adds that the carry-out items will include a number of vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free products.

Fiore's will also have a bar with seating for about a dozen, a dining room with space for approximately 75 and a separate private dining room that Cerrato says is to be modeled after a Tuscan courtyard. That room will seat approximately 50.

The restaurant also boasts a patio with seating for about 55 and a Bocce ball court. The restaurant will host Bocce tournaments, awarding prizes like free pies for winners. On the other side of the patio is a double-decker brick oven with a grill, sink and food bar, so people can have outdoor pizza parties when it gets warmer. "It should be a lot of fun. We're going to have the old tin lighting to give it that Italian outdoor dining kind of feel," says Cerrato.

The building where the new Fiore's will be located is of special significance to the Cerrato family — it used to house Boscoe's Italian Eatery, a comfortable Italian restaurant opened about 23 years ago by Ceratto's father.

Cerrato says that he’s is excited about the space's potential. "It allows us to be a little more funky, cool and laid back. It's a great spot. There's tons of parking and it also allows us to have a lot more flexibility with the menu because the kitchen is huge.”

For more information, visit fioresasheville.com.

Loretta’s big move

After 12 years in the same Patton Avenue location, Loretta’s Café is moving to the Meadows Building. The three-story structure, located at 114 North Lexington Ave., will allow for much more space — something that the current location is lacking.

The Meadows Building's front windows have been covered in brown paper for the past few months, and there has been a bit of speculation as to what's going on inside. Apparently, Loretta Wooley, the owner of the café and its namesake, has been refiguring the bar into a sandwich counter and setting up shop in the downstairs kitchen. She's also been preparing a third level to be used as an event space — as well as a ping-pong table room.

Wooley is a very busy woman. She also owns Mayfel's, a restaurant located just a few blocks away from the current Loretta's site. Regardless, Wooley seems ready to bear the burden of moving the café from its longtime home at 27 Patton Ave. "We've been slowly moving and getting it ready," she says. "We're going to have a pretty smooth transition."

And what makes a person move a restaurant from a location that's proven successful? For Wooley, the answer is simple. "You do things for various reasons, but this is about community, and downtown is a great little community," she says.

What Wooley means is that she wants to keep prices reasonable and affordable — Loretta's has long been known as a place to get a great lunch value. However, she says, that just isn't viable for the long term in the current location. To keep prices at the same low cost that has made Loretta's a popular haunt for people looking for a cheap lunch, it's time to expand, says Wooley. "I would never want Loretta's to go away, simply because a lot of people depend on it that work downtown who can't afford $12 lunches," she says.

Currently housed in a building that boasts less than 1,000 square feet, the sandwich shop can can only fit so many staffers — which means a limit on the amount of sandwiches that can realistically be made on any given day. "For the past couple of years Loretta's hasn't made a lot of money," says Wooley. "It's just kind of held its own, barely, even though plenty of people come in there."

The move also enables the staff of Loretta's to have a larger kitchen, and one that's on site. Much of what is served at the Patton Avenue location — the roasted sandwich meats and the chicken salad, for example — is cooked at Mayfel's, and then wheeled down the street to Loretta's.

"We'll have more space in the Meadows Building, whereas Loretta's is currently reliant on Mayfel's to survive," says Wooley. "We'll be independent down there. It's going to be a good move. It will be a nice comfortable place to go that's affordable and friendly."

Loretta's should make the move in the first week of March. The café will offer extended hours, though the exact details are not yet set. For more information, visit lorettascafe.com.

Table talk

On Thursday, March 3, Table in downtown Asheville will debut a series of dinners that will focus on wines from Devon Price, a local wine distributor with Sour Grapes, LLC that specializes in natural and esoteric European wines.

The March 3 dinner will feature wines from the city of Vienna paired with Goan food for a pretty unique dining experience. Wines on the white end will include Gruner Veltliner, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Blanc, and reds will include Sveigelt, a common Austrian wine that doesn't see an awful lot of action in the states.

And what exactly is Goan food, Xpress asks Table's co-owner and 2010 James Beard-award nominee, Jacob Sessoms? "Goa is a province in India that was settled by the Portuguese, so the food is Indian with the addition of pork and salt cod, of course, because the Portuguese were big on the salt cod trade." Naturally.

This event is part of a series of rather interesting wine dinners featuring Price's inventory that Table is hosting through April, starting with the March 3 dinner continuing every third Thursday. Call Table at 254-8980 for more information or to make reservations, or visit tableasheville.com.

— Send your food news to food@mountainx.com

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