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Fiorella’s: Experience, Hospitality and Service

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Sometimes you walk into an experience expecting one thing, and it’s something totally different. That’s what happened to me for the tasting at Fiorella’s. I’m a Kansas City girl, so I know and love the Fiorella’s Jack Stack restaurants, but I wasn’t prepared for the beautiful new space, the incredible experience and, most remarkably, the taste at Fiorella’s. It’s something they call “beyond barbecue,” and that’s a total understatement!

Let me start with the space.
A fourth-generation family business started by Russ Fiorella in 1957, Fiorella’s isn’t new to catering or private dining. Nearly 30 years ago, Jack Fiorella opened the private dining experience at the Jack Stack restaurant in Martin City, Missouri. In 2018, the company had five restaurants throughout Kansas City (today there are six), a corporate office and a warehouse; they were looking for a catering office and facility. “We wanted a place where we could host truly amazing events for a variety of clients. Somewhere big groups could celebrate and big memories could be made. Somewhere that had room for the largest gatherings but still felt like home,” said Scott Kautzi, Director of Sales.

The company discovered the former Ritz Charles near 135th and Antioch was for sale. This large space could unify all of Fiorella’s and Jack Stack’s offices into one space but more importantly provide an opportunity for a ground-up creation of a new, one-of-a-kind event plus catering space branded as Fiorella’s. Maybe it’s not exactly what they’d originally intended, but looking at it now after about 12-months and several million dollars in renovations, I can’t imagine this could have turned out any better!

“Fiorella’s is an opportunity to bring fine dining event experience that you’re not going to get anywhere else in Kansas City,” said Kautzi. “You can go to a lot of nice venues where you have to bring in catering or you can find a lot of good caterers who don’t have a space like ours. We have everything here.”

The entire 15,000-square-foot space was gutted and renovated with a beautiful stone and iron entry, new walls, flooring and fixtures including high-end finishes, dark wood tones, leather and wrought iron, giving every interior space a rustic modern feel. If you’ve been inside a Jack Stack, you know what that ambiance feels like and understand that attention to detail. All of that extends to the space at Fiorella’s.

Now, let’s get to the food.
Fiorella’s Executive Chef Chris Hall isn’t new to preparing food for large groups after beginning his career and working in the hotel catering business. The Fiorella’s chef has a passion for all varieties of food; he might be making an Italian feast one night for a corporate dinner, a charity ladies luncheon featuring quiche, salads and peach cobbler the next day or a rehearsal dinner for 50 with filets cooked to perfection.

Fiorella’s menus include breakfasts, themed buffets, plated dinners, passed hors d’oeuvres and so much more. In fact, Chef Hall has been known to make themed dinners for Indian weddings with input from the families, take personal requests (can you imagine Jack Stack’s famous carrot cake as your wedding cake?) and even make your treasured great-grandma’s recipe for a special occasion.

I was blown away by what they call “beyond barbecue,” describing to all of us that Fiorella’s is so much more than what’s on a Jack Stack menu. And yes! You can have burnt ends for your event too!

I was seated in a beautiful event space at a white tableclothed dining table with a lovely centerpiece; the tasting began with a thick and buttery seasonal soup. This delicious Butternut Squash Soup had a hint of goat cheese, tamarind and fried leeks. Immediately after the first course, we enjoyed a unique and gorgeous Pear and Apple Salad with tiny slivers of pears, apples, carrots, shiso leaves and butter rosettes garnished with a honey champagne vinegar.

But never in my life have I ever tasted a filet as soft and tender as the Fiorellas’s Grilled Filet Mignon with cabernet demi glaze. My butter knife sank into the steak with each bite. It was served with a trio of sweet potatoes cooked to perfection, stacked neatly for aesthetics, and poached beets.

The Braised Veal Osso Bucco over mushroom risotto Milanese and tiny roasted carrots was superb. But I’m a seafood girl and I knew I’d love the olive-oil-poached Chilean Sea Bass. It was buttery delicious. Served with Torgarashi Spiced Couscous, golden beets and a little wasabi, this dish was just right in every way.

It was a knock-down, drag-out fight to win the title of best-tasting dessert. I just had to keep eating to find the true champion. First, I tasted a Frangipane and Apple Tart Tatin. For those of us who have no idea what frangipane is, it’s a velvety almond crème with a hint of vanilla. This dessert was outstanding, and I couldn’t get enough of the thick, rich, flaky crust of the tart. The Tiramisu was perfection and it was served with a full-sized Cannoli. The two together (I don’t think I’ve ever had the pleasure) was an Italian dessert heaven. Amore! Grazie! No clear winner; I’ll call it a tie.

Last but not least, the experience.
The space is unbelievably versatile for weddings, corporate events, galas, rehearsal dinners and family reunions. Accommodating 50 to 1,200 people, the event space encompasses five salons that can be opened up and altered for groups and includes AV, a large convenient parking lot, event planning and more services.

According to Kautzi and their in-house wedding specialist, Alisha Richardson, they’ve been able to continue to host weddings and other small events during COVID-19 restrictions, demonstrating the venue’s personal service, versatility and flexibility. Also, during the pandemic, Fiorella’s has provided food for virtual events showcasing their abilities to create high-end meal kits for pick-up or delivery. For example, this Valentine’s Day, Fiorella’s expects to offer a meal kit complete with reheating instructions and video of Chef Chris preparing and plating the food.

But I think what surprised me the most when I walked in was the whole experience. I wasn’t expecting the combination of the beautiful new space, the superior service and the wonderful food. Now you don’t have to be surprised as I was, but you don’t want to miss a chance to experience Fiorella’s.

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Written by: Megan Neher

Journalist-turned-PR-professional Megan Neher has never forgotten her true first love: writing. Today, Megan owns her own PR firm, Megan Neher Public Relations; she’s a wife, mom, marketer, student and spends a lot of time cleaning up after her four pets and two teenagers. Her dream is to live on a tropical beach somewhere where she can stroll barefoot to a nearby grass hut for a fish taco and margarita.