Fiori is a very nice restaurant. But it made a couple of mistakes.
Moving. And pink.
A while back, Fiori moved from a cozy country setting on Westminster Road, near Reisterstown, to the statelier former quarters of the Country Fare Inn in Owings Mills. Fine. No problem. Except that some local diners still haven't gotten the word. A couple dining near us dashed in late, breathlessly announcing to the rest of their party that when they arrived at what they thought was Fiori, they found Enrico's instead.
Time will eventually solve this problem. But then there's the Pink Problem.
The restaurant's building dates from the 18th century, and was once the home of the mills-owning Owings family. The decor generally respects the house's history and architecture, and remains in a tasteful Williamsburg mold. But someone has ill-advisedly decided to foist postmodernism on the main dining room, and the big, red brick hearth now competes with walls trimmed and sponge-painted in Pepto-Bismol pink and accented with up-lighter sconces. Yikes.
Now let's put away the complaints and get to the good stuff. The food.
Fiori still subscribes to the something-for-everyone ethic of Italian dining. The menu gives ample representation to the northern and southern regional styles, and offers both cream-drenched luxury and spare, herb-kissed spa dishes weighing in at less than 400 calories.
The soup of the day, black bean ($3) was an exceptionally subtle version of this dish, not garlicky and Iberian, but rich with natural bean flavor. The oysters in the oysters il verde ($6.50) appetizer were small, but the topping of chopped spinach, herbs and bacon was a tempting twist on the usual Rockefeller.
Now that we are leaving summer behind, it seemed the best of times for a farewell dinner of soft shell crabs amandine ($17.50). The two crabs, mounded with buttery sliced almonds, were juicy and delectable. Even better, surprisingly, was the low-cal grilled breast of chicken ($13.25). It may sound like the diet food it is, but the treatment, which included olive oil, garlic, lemon and herbs, had more flavor than dishes sporting three times the calories. Such as the paglia e fieno alla Sorentina ($10.75), a two-color linguine dish with a little crab and prosciutto, and lots and lots of cream. Yummy, yes, but after a few bites you'll feel you won't have to eat again for days.
Fiori shamelessly parks its dessert cart right out in the foyer, ready to hook you as soon as you walk in the door. We took the bait. The English trifle was fittingly extravagant, but the seductive appearance of the unfortunately dry chocolate mousse cake was a tease.
Where: 100 Painters Mill Road, Owings Mills.
Hours: Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Mondays to Fridays; dinner 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays to Thursdays, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 4 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sundays.
Credit Cards: AE, DC, MC, V.
Features: Italian dining.
Non-smoking section? Yes.