Quick Bites: Foodies Love Fiore’s

It’s amazing how moving a restaurant can make or break the business. With Fiore’s Café and Italian Cuisine, the owners didn’t have much time to worry. After moving from their tiny location of two and a half years (which once housed Latinos Y Mas and Las Palmas) to the old Giordano’s next door on Pine Avenue. Fiore’s seems to be packed nightly now.

While dining with friends, I heard compliments non-stop. Check for yourself online where the reviews brim with positive comments. You’ll understand why from the moment the mile-high salads, which are meals unto themselves, arrive at your table. The bread knots were fresh, chewy, and served in a dish of garlic and butter. The eggplant Parmesan was crispy around the edges, and the lasagna looked and tasted like it came from Mom’s kitchen. Thick and delicious, the pasta fagioli is loaded with pasta and beans. The pizza is raved about throughout downtown Ocala and the surrounding areas.

This, folks, is fine dining at its best, yet the prices are reasonable at the same time. The servers are dressed professionally and disappear and reappear only when needed. The ambiance of an old wine cellar fits the cuisine perfectly. Beer and wine is available,and Fiore’s will soon be open for lunch, offering pizza by the slice, subs, and smaller portions of their dinner menu.

Luis Luna, one of the owners, takes as much pride in this restaurant as he did his others in South Florida. Originally from Spain with roots in Italy and Colombia as well, he has been in the restaurant business since he was a boy.

Fiore’s is located at 207 South Pine Avenue and is now open seven days a week. A website is currently in development, but the restaurant’s menu is available at urbanspoon.com and the phone number is (352) 789-6980.

Joe and Helen Barbazon have closed the doors to Barbazon Sports Bar on Hwy. 27 and reopened with Barbazon’s FrontRow Grill in the old Roadhouse Grill on 17th Street, where Latinos Y Mas was temporarily serving during renovations to their building on Pine Avenue. When jokingly asked why he didn’t learn his lesson and close the doors for good, Joe replied with a chuckle, “If I stay busy, I stay out of trouble.”

In actuality, the Barbazons have been married for 28 years and work well together. They own a local Thoroughbred horse farm, Pleasant Acres, and were recently voted Florida Breeder of the Year by the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association board of directors.

A few changes have been made to the restaurant. The dining area is much more open and over 60 flatscreens are available for your sports-watching pleasure, including 15- and 19-inch screens at booth tables.

“And we’re still adding more,” says Joe.

The menu consists of a huge variety of appetizers, steaks, sandwiches, seafood, burgers, wings, soups, and salads. A banquet room is available for parties or meetings, and Happy Hour is from 2pm to 7pm daily. Free WiFi is available. For more information, call (352) 304-6805.

Nibbles: A look at Stevie B’s Pizza Buffet on SR 200, Tommy’s Barbecue in The Forest, and The Dugout Sports Bar in future issues. Ruby Tuesday is now offering brunch, and Mandarin Buffet is opening in the Shores. Quiznos is coming back close to Regal Cinemas, and Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken has opened another location further west on Hwy. 200. Krazy Kones has its signage up on West SR 40, plus Gruffs Tap & Grill in Dunnellon moved from its Rainbow River location into the old Dinner Bell on U.S. 41.

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