Fresh Made Pasta at Fiamma

Fiamma Italian Restaurant, tucked away in an unassuming strip mall in Dilworth, prides itself on serving true Italian style food faithful to the Northern part of Italy.  I visited last winter when my entire family joined me in Charlotte for my first half-marathon and ate some absolutely delicious handmade pasta dishes.  I still remember the table favorite: Tagliatelle d’Alba, fresh home-made pasta, served w/ poached egg, brown butter, Parmesan cheese and summer black truffles.  It was heavenly and I wish it had been on the menu when we visited for restaurant week.  Regardless, I was still excited to see what else Fiamma had to offer.

The main dining room was lively and full of energy, the perfect setting for a good Italian meal.  Unfortunately, we were sat in the upstairs corridor, completely blocked off from the action and I felt like I was sitting at the kids table.  It would be nice if you are looking for a more romantic setting but it wasn’t really the feel we were going for.  Next time I’ll just ask for the main dining room seating so I don’t miss out on the action.

We started off our meal with a delicious and bright pesto dip served with warm focaccia bread and bread sticks.  As you can see, I couldn’t resist dipping before snapping a picture and spilled a little on the bowl.  Woops.I used every last bit of bread to sop up this divine pesto and secretly wished they would bring more, but with three courses ahead of me it was probably best they didn’t.

Fiamma offered an extensive list of items during restaurant week and I finally decided on a frisee salad with avocado, heart of palms, tomatoes, huge shavings of pecorino romano, and balsamic reduction.

I had no idea that avocados were a prominent Northern Italian ingredient, but I wasn’t arguing.  The flavors unexpectedly went together nicely and  made for a great first course.

After a delightful palate cleanser, it was time for the main course.

Roasted lamb shank braised in fresh vegetables, served with homemade potato gnocchi.  For some reason, I often find myself ordering large hunks of meat when I’m out to eat.  I think it must be because I don’t tend to cook meat that often at home and I always feel like splurging when I’m to eat.  Plus, during Restaurant Week, it’s all $30 and I might as well get the biggest bang for my buck.  The lamb was fall-off-the-bone tender but the real show-stopper was the potato gnocchi.  It was light and pillowy, and complemented perfectly by a light tomato sauce.  I would have been happy with just a big bowl of gnocchi.  The simplicity of the sauce was a true testament to how Fiamma executes fresh pasta perfectly.

Last, but certainly not least was dessert, which Fiamma does right.  I distinctly remembered some fabulous desserts that we got on the house when I visited last year, and was excited to see panna cotta on the Restaurant Week menu.  The panna cotta was creamy, cool, and absolutely delectable.  The luscious creamy filling was intensely flavored with whole vanilla beans and just the right amount of sweetness.   The light blackberry and balsamic sauce hit your tongue with a bite of tartness to balance out the velvety cream.  This dish was balanced and didn’t leave me feeling heavy, like some overly decadent desserts might.  This is a must get for Fiamma goers.

Highs: handmade pasta, bread and amaze-pesto dip, dessert

Lows: sat at the kids table, ate more gnocchi than lamb (that’s my own fault for ordering it)

Definitely check out Fiamma for their fresh pasta and faithfulness to true Italian cooking.  The restaurant is family owned and a great way to support local Charlotte businesses.  Don’t miss the Tagliatelle D’Alba or any of the other handmade pastas, and don’t skip dessert (if you’re ordering panna cotta).

Fiamma on Urbanspoon


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