LIke so many other buildings in Cortland, the exterior of Fabio's is modest to say the least. The interior is a bit better-- "homey" would be polite, but "campy" would also be accurate. The food is another matter altogether. We came for Easter dinner with a party of 26 people. Wine and appetizers arrived promptly, and all throughout our meal the service was adequate if a bit awkward (we were consistently served from the left). Our meal commenced with a green salad, which was fresh but suffered a bit from having been made earlier in the day. The antipasto plate caught my attention, because all of the cured meats were of unusually high quality. But the taglierini with cheese and arugula made me want to stand up and cheer. As with all the greens Fabio served us that evening, they were fresh and unusually verdant (how does this man get his braised greens to stay so damn green?). The cheese, home made pasta and more than a touch of butter and garlic all came together perfectly and launched this dish into the stratosphere. We also sampled the spaghetti Bolognese, and the braciole, but the lamb osso bucco was truly extraordinary. How did he manage to prepare this so that the meat melted off the bone and dissolved in your mouth, but was still pink and delightfully rare near the center? I wish I knew.
Should you find yourself anywhere in the neighborhood of Ithaca or Syracuse, this resto is a scant half hour from either city, and WELL worth the trip. If you're with a large party, it is highly probable that Fabio himself will come out of the kitchen after your meal (along with a tray of limoncello and anisette, served gratis) to say hello. Rest assured that you'll want to toast both his health and his skills.
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