We know it’s been some time since our last post. But dear readers, we haven’t forgotten about you! As mentioned in our last post, this is a time of transition for the What To Eat team. Never fear: we didn’t stop eating. Phew.
Since we last wrote, our founders moved to Pittsburgh. Our entire team continues to read your emails, messages, and notes. And our Birmingham crew is keeping dibs on what’s happening in the Magic City’s food community. Which has been a lot, so stay tuned for more in the coming weeks.
First things first, let’s discuss Fero. When we met at Urban Standard to work on transitioning What To Eat, we discussed how much happened this summer in terms of new restaurants and things to come. After taking look at the list of the newcomers to the scene, we decided to explore Fero. (Together, we went as a team to a complimentary preview dinner, with several of us returning weeks after the opening.)
Fero, which opened last month in the northwest corner of Pizitz Food Hall, is the second full-service restaurant to open in the food hall. (Ghion Cultural Hall was the first.) Italian with a (U.S.) Southern influence, it’s run by Fourth Earl Hospitality, which also runs Pizitz/ Choza Taqueria and The Louis Bar. Designed by Appleseed Workshop, the restaurant seats 85 and will later feature outdoor seating.
Fero complements Birmingham’s existing Italian offerings. The long established Gianmarco’s offers old-school classics and family recipes in the heart of Homewood. Fero is closer in concept to Bettola in a modern interpretation of Italian on 2nd Avenue. There’s room for them all.
As for Fero, with a bar, an open kitchen, and a private dining area, the restaurant, with its sleek decor, is designed to become a destination onto itself.
There was a good bit of advance press for Fero (which means “steel” in Latin). Co-owner Chef Akhtar Nawab of Brooklyn brings a distinguished pedigree, working among San Francisco and New York’s top chefs, and at restaurants like Gramercy Tavern, Craft, and his own restaurant, Elettaria. Oh, and he was also on Iron Chef.
We know, we know. That’s great and all. But how is Fero’s food?
We’re pleased to report that it lives up to the buzz.
First, Fero’s menu is divided into four parts: starters, pasta, mains, and vegetables. We ordered family style, and recommend that you do the same. Servers are friendly and attentive, happy to help you order depending on your appetite and preferences.
The oysters are incredibly fresh, notable since they are from Nova Scotia. Served with black pepper and horseradish granita, they’re the perfect way to begin the meal. (Though we’d also link to see Alabama oysters on the menu, hint hint.)
The buckwheat crepe provides a savory note. Filled with Fudge Farms pork belly and black cabbage, and served with parmesan crisp, it’s a welcome addition to Birmingham’s crepe-sparse menus.
The Vitello tonnato is a dish popular in both Italy and Argentina that features thinly sliced braised veal, tuna aioli, and arugula, served with a poached egg. Savory and delicious.
Two pasta items are standouts: the free form ravoli with braised lamb, harissa and smoke ricotta:
And the the quadrucci, a charcoal pasta with duck ragout, black olives and tomatoes, has become a favorite for the What To Eat crew:
For the mains, the black grouper is served with an excellent vadouvan curry and baba ganush. (One member of our party, a notoriously picky eater, commented that the curry was a perfect complement to the fish.)
The scallops are served about four to give to a plate, served with a coconut beet yogurt, farotto, charred broccoli rabe, and dukkah.
The Fudge Farms Porterhouse Chop is a generous portion and was a hit at our table.
For vegetables, the outstanding dish is the crisp brussels sprouts, served with chile, honey, and pecorino. It’s perfect as a starter or side dish and a must-order.
With prices starting at $9 for an appetizer, pastas starting at $13, and mains starting at $23, pricing is on par with upscale restaurants around town. They are currently open for dinner only, and do take reservations, which is a plus. We’re looking forward to seeing how Fero continues to evolve. If you go, let us know what you think. And save a plate of quadrucci for us.