The family-owned Fiorentino's Cucina Italiana (try to guess their last name) is what many people like to call a "hidden gem." Situated as it is across from a giant supermarket and strip mall, it's not quite hidden, but it might as well be. Step through the door, though, and any memory of Ashland Avenue will quickly fade.
The space is larger than it appears from outside, and the high ceilings and bright colors make it feel even bigger than it is. Linen-covered tables cozy near each other, but not so close that patrons get in each others' way. In warmer months, more tables are available on the outdoor patio, which looks more like a garden than restaurant seating.
The food comes in ample portions, leaving many diners with the next day's lunch in hand. The calamari appetizer is a popular item, and is incredibly light for a fried dish. Specialties include things chicken vesuvio and eggplant parmesan, plus a wide variety of other Italian treats. The unofficial signature dish (so good it's on the menu twice) is the stuffed gnocchi. Available in three sauces (though they say the tomato cream is the best), the cheese-filled dumplings are incredibly soft and pillowy. If you are seated near the kitchen, try and count how many plates of gnocchi come out—it's hard to keep track.
Most entree prices range from $14 (for pasta dishes) to about $25 (for steaks and seafood). Considering the size of meals, it's quite possible that no one has ever actually seen the dessert menu, but rest assured: There is one.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Mac McCormick