Kristina Martorano| Lifestyles Editor
Price Range: $$ ($5-$15)
Along Haddon Avenue in Collingswood New Jersey there sits an Italian restaurant named Il Fiore. Il Fiore serves up Italian food like no other. It’s authentic, well-priced, and delicious. I visited Il Fiore once with my family for my father’s birthday, and I have raved about it ever since. It’s Italian food that you just won’t want to miss.
Il Fiore means “The Flower” in English, and this restaurant is as genuine and wonderful as a flower. The food is spectacular and the service is great. Il Fiore is the perfect place for a nice romantic dinner, or a nice night out with your friends. It’s also great for big groups or private parties. Because the menu is authentic and has seafood dishes, as well as many unique combinations, picky eaters or kids might not find it as enjoyable. However, Il Fiore serves up wonderful food with decent sized portions, and is very easy to find. It’s located along Haddon Ave, and parking is by meter or on the street. If you’re coming from Rutgers take the PATCO Speedline to the Collingswood stop and it is just a short walk away.
Il Fiore is small, actually very small, so reservations are a must, especially on a Friday or Saturday night. Don’t be surprised if you have to wait a couple of minutes even with reservations, but don’t fret the food is worth it. Thankfully Il Fiore has outside heating lamps, so waiting isn’t uncomfortable. The atmosphere is casual and clean, however because of its size the tables are close together. It’s almost like a restaurant in NYC, where you’re practically on top of the couple next to you. Just be prepared to sit close to others. The service is absolutely wonderful. Although the wait staff typically speaks English as their second language, they still serve you with attentiveness and are some of the finest working people in Collingswood. They make great recommendations, and they are willing to help you with whatever your dietary needs may be. It’s also a big plus for us ladies that they happen to be extremely good-looking too.
Now to move on to the menu, which offers just enough without it being overwhelming. Everything at Il Fiore is fresh and hand-made. You won’t find any Olive Garden mediocrity here. The appetizers are mouthwatering. One of the best things I’ve ever eaten is Il Fiore’s Calamari. Unlike most Italian restaurants Il Fiore grills the calamari instead of breading and frying it. It’s served with a lemon garlic and herb sauce and is grilled to perfection, and I mean perfection. I’ve never had calamari like it. It’s smoky, and savory, everything you wouldn’t expect squid to taste like. The appetizers also include the Funghi Gratinata which is baked porcino, shiitake, and portabello mushrooms stuffed with shrimp, bread crumbs, and olive oil. There is also Zuppa Di Cossi which is fresh farm-raised mussels in either garlic white wine, or plum tomato sauce. Of course there is also soup, and a wonderful salad menu. Then there are the entrees. My personal favorite is the Ravioli Il Fiore which is homemade lobster ravioli in a pink cognac sauce. It is absolutely delicious. The sauce is not too heavy, and it doesn’t overpower the lobster and cheese combination of the ravioli. All of Il Fiore’s homemade past is well-made and not too doughy. I also recommend the Penne Con Piselli whish is penne, pancetta, and peas in a classic pink vodka sauce, or the Orechiette Alla Compagna , which is small shell pasta with chicken sausage and mushrooms in a fresh basil white wine sauce. The Gnocci Di Ricotta is also very delicious. It includes homemade spinach and ricotta gnocci in a basil tomato sauce. Of course there are others to choose from as well, including a whole wheat linguine dish, and a fresh clams dish as well. The dessert menu is changed daily, so there is always something delicious and new to end your meal with. Il Fiore is also a B.Y.O.B., as is all of the restaurants in Collingswood, so although there is no alcohol offered, you are welcome to bring your own favorites. Il Fiore will accommodate you with wine glasses and buckets with ice to chill your bottles in.
So the next time you want a nice Italian meal, try Il Fiore in Collingwood. The prices are great, the portions are well sized, and the food is excellent.