a b c Fiorini

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209 E. 56th St.

Lello Arpaia has been a fixture in New York’s restaurant world (Cellini, Scarlatti) since arriving from Naples decades ago. His newest location represents what he cares about most: providing his guests with comfort, a touch of romance, and incredibly good food. Fiorini means “little flower” in Italian, and it well describes this polished, understated gem amid the clamor of the city’s dining scene.

Scialatilli Amalfitani is a pasta dish with eggplant, baby shrimp, and lobster that is perfectly prepared to keep each morsel within it a tasty treat. The diced pieces of eggplant are first fried, then drained of oil so they remain crisp and meaty. In another first course, a small Mediterranean octopus is steamed to tenderness in its own juices with some tomatoes in a clay pot. The result is pure magical flavor. 

Acqua pazza means “crazy water” in Italian and Branzino Acqua Pazza was so named because the early fishermen cooked this fish in Mediterranean Sea water. Here, the water is not crazy, but the fish is crazy good with tender roasted tomatoes and a bit of olive oil. Try the Veal Scallopine prepared in white wine with truffle oil and fresh thyme or the Grilled Baby Chicken with roasted lemon sauce. 

Arpaia has come up with a lighter version of a classic dessert, a sort of do-it-yourself Baba au Rhum: a small cake filled with mascarpone cream is presented with a small snifter of rum, so you can pour as much (or little) as you like over the cake for a sublime dessert. Lunch and dinner Monday to Saturday; closed Sunday. -- Marian Betancourt

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