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Fall in Love with Folino

The solid stone building that houses Folino Estate sits on a rise near rows of grapevines on a pure-country stretch of Old Route 22. At night, the building sparkles with light, its Italian-style piazza interior welcoming diners who yearn for a complete, full-on Italian dining experience, starting with smooth, full-flavored Pinot Noir and Vino Rosato, fruity Moscato, or crisp Folino Estate Fumo Bianco. They’re wooed by the hand-breaded calamari, the antipasto panini, the prosciutto-wrapped filet, and Lidia’s Lasagna, named (of course) for the owner’s mother. 

Original recipes, homemade sauces, the freshest of salads, virgin olive oil, authentic Mediterranean specialty ingredients, and wines drawn so close to the cask — what a formula for romance! Do consider calling early for reservations around Valentine’s Day, knowing that every tasty detail will be lovingly delivered to your table. One of the nicest aspects of Folino is that there is absolutely no sense of being rushed — it’s time for wine, talk, food, more wine, more food and lots of intimate conversation. Nonetheless, each course appears in good time, perfectly plated, enticing to see and explore.

It’s no wonder Folino Estate has — in the space of just one year since it opened in November 2015 — emerged not only as a fine dining destination but a hot wedding space as well. By December of last year, no fewer than 80 weddings had already been booked for 2017.

 

Italian Beekeepers and Red Wine Meatballs

With a full bar and restaurant seating for 117, complete with roaring fireplace, Folino offers more than just remarkable wines and bruschetta. The creative cocktails list includes a Tiramisu Cocktail, a Vidal Blanc Margarita, and an unforgettable Italian Beekeeper. The latter drink carries a true sting ’n zing, with each ingredient unusually distinguishable in every sip: it’s a fab mixture of bourbon, Disaronno, lemon, honey and Angostura bitters.

For an appetizer, try the Red Wine Polpette. These cute, gourmet red-wine-infused meatballs are served in a cast-iron crock bathed in a gorgeous tomato sauce, with a full clove of garlic. Gently luscious and magically seasoned, they’re absolutely perfect with Merlot or — for a bold change — Lorenzo Forte, with its stunning color and thoroughly delicious, blended bouquet of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot.  

Another wonderful dish is the Fontina dip, the cheesiest-ever appetizer, served in a small cast-iron skillet: Fontina unabashedly melts in olive oil and pesto, sizzling, awaiting toasted crusts for scooping. Mmm.

 

Zuppa & Insalata

Have a cup or bowl of the Salsiccia and Faggioli Bianco Zuppa, where finely chopped pieces of sausage pair with cannellini beans; this superb soup calls for long simmering in Italian herbs and lingers fondly afterwards in the memory with its earthy, addictive flavor. It’s underwhelmed with beans — a truly welcome relief from other faggioli soups out there, which always seem to overcrowd the palate.  

While the Estate Caesar Salad and the Tomato & Fresh Mozzarella are sure favorites, there’s high-flavor wealth in Folino’s house salad, Insalata di Casa. What a refreshing course! The well-chosen crunch and munch combination of field greens, red onions, diced cukes, gorgonzola and roasted Marcona almonds is lifted up by a subtly citrus limoncello and grapeseed-oil vinaigrette. 

 

Wood-Fired Pizza, Drunken Pasta, Pappardelle Bolognese

Ample, well-utilized space is one of Folino’s greatest assets. Chef tosses several intriguing varieties of smoky pizzas into a wood-fired oven. The gnocchi, tagliatelle, and pappardelle pastas are all made onsite.  

Wide, wavy noodles are the star in Pappardelle Bolognese. They whirl about in a sauce made of ground beef, veal, prosciutto and pork — a sauce that takes literally hours to make until it’s just right. The just-chewy noodles, sauce, and a sprinkling of peas are topped by fresh-carved Parmesan cheese, arriving with an aroma that wafts seductively into the nostrils of every diner on his way to the table. More wine shows up; more mineral water is poured; more bites of pasta enrapture the mouth. Yet 15 or even 20 minutes later, the entrée appears barely touched — that’s how generous the portion is. 

The same happy dilemma is true of Lidia’s Lasagna, a multi-layered, towering block of this very traditional, homestyle favorite, delivered via a stomach-satisfying secret recipe. This soulful lasagna is meaty and hearty, so take your time. Here, on the hill, in the heart of good Pennsylvania wine country, is a mini-Italy to simply enjoy. After all, there’s always the option to box up a dish and have sumptuous leftovers tomorrow. 

 

Cappuccino and Chocolate Cheesecake, Anyone?

No surprise: Folino’s Tiramisu is everything it ought to be: soft, melting with mocha mousse, and cake-y (request two forks). A large cup of hot cappuccino complete with frothy top delivers a tasty, requisite caffeine jolt for the ride home.

Chocolate Cheesecake is a true treat, too, with chocolate deeply suffused throughout the smooth, firm cheese, marrying well with a thin, dark chocolate crust. A sublime ending for a marvelous meal indeed.

 

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