IMAGE VIA IL FIORISTA NYC | FACEBOOK
It may not be entirely common to see loads of flowers around the streets of NYC (unless they’re on a flower wall at your favorite millennial brunch spot), but at Flatiron’s new Il Fiorista, owners Alessandra and Mario De Benedetti have incorporated flowers into every single aspect of their restaurant.
“Flowers have so much more to offer than their beauty,” Alessandra says. “Of course, we love the color and cheerfulness they bring to our space, but Il Fiorista is about celebrating all aspects of flowers. They have the power to elevate a dish, provide health benefits and bring people together.”
The pair moved from Milan to NYC to open their first restaurant in NoMad (open as of September 16, 2019) as a way to build a business out of their passions. “A few years ago, I started studying flowers and fell in love with their beauty and health benefits,” says Alessandra. “Owning a restaurant is something we've always dreamed of, so it seemed like a natural fit to incorporate flowers. [Plus,] we love good food and good wine.”
The menu is focused on bringing these benefits of flowers into every dish in one way or another. Whether that’s via chamomile rubbed on chicken for seasoning or crudos (similar to beef tartare) topped with pickled fennel flowers, you can expect a sprinkle of flora in every bite.
Aside from the beauty and flavor the flowers add to Il Fiorista’s menu, the De Benedettis wanted to keep the food beneath the flowers as fresh as their floral counterparts. “Beyond treating ourselves well, we are committed to treating the planet well by sourcing our food locally and using water-reduction and composting methods,” says Alessandra. “We use the most fresh, seasonal vegetables, fruits and meats too, always sourcing locally and regionally as much as possible.”
As far as recommendations go, the De Benedettis are singing the praises of the Gnocchi di Patate with spinach, ricotta salata, and basil. “It's simple and light, not covered in any heavy sauce so the full flavor of the gnocchi and basil has a chance to shine through,” she told Fitt.
The space at Il Fiorista features flowers equally, from a colorful, geometric mural by artist Leanne Shapton to floral centerpieces at each table. “All of the design elements were thoughtfully selected to make the place comfortable, bright and inviting,” says Alessandra, “but to really let the flowers take center stage.”
In addition to eating flowers in the restaurant portion of Il Fiorista, you can also drink them at the bar, visit the flower shop to bring them home with you, or stop by the education center for a flower class, all under the same roof.
What’s more, if you’re getting married and want to nix the cost of a florist, you may be in luck — one of the classes the De Benedettis are looking to offer at the education center at Il Fiorista is DIY bouquet-making. This is still in the works though, so stay tuned for more. In the meantime, keep Il Fiorista in mind when the Nor’easters start to drag you down — reserve a table at the restaurant that’s always in bloom.