Wednesday, August 26, 2015

While I've Been: Facci Ristorante Surprised Us With Even-Better Pizza And Even-More Pasta

Pizza and pasta at Facci
While I've been out, Facci Ristorante turned itself into an even-better restaurant -- and surprised us into making it one of our go-to dinners.

The Italian restaurant on Johns Hopkins Road has been a popular spot since it opened more than five years ago, but it never welcomed or excited us as much as we expected -- especially since it is one of our closest options.

While I've been slow with the blogging, we have eaten a few times at Facci, and we loved all the dishes.  First, we remembered that wood-fired pizza is so much better right out of the oven.  We've done take-out a few times.  It's good, but Facci's pizza is crunchy magic when it skips right from the fire to your plate.

The wood-fired oven
All of these gourmet pizzas depend on the skill of the specific person who throws your pie.  As I have written about other places, quality can vary.  But Facci's quality has run recentlyfrom really good to absolutely perfect.  They do a pistachio pizza with sliced red onions that came out slightly charred and perfectly topped.  The crust was still hot and crisp that I was pleased when Lil' Chow declined a slice.

This is part of my "While I've Been Out" series to restart the blog.  Late last year, the blog got some serious competition.  I'm still working out how to keep writing while I'm doing so many other new things as well.  Tomorrow, my suggestion for a great local adventure for exercise and delicious food.  (Plus puppies!!!)

Lil's Chow never declines noodles.  So he has been pleased by our second discovery:  That Facci now makes many more pastas in-house.  I assume Facci expanded the pasta-making when they opened a second location in Turf Valley in Ellicott City.  Instead of two or three options, there is an entire menu section -- from simple fettuccine through gnocchi and stuffed ravioli.

Spaghetti with all-the-parmesan-he-can-get
Your first try should be the sacchetti cheese pears.  These are small pockets of pasta filled with pears and gorgonzola cheese.  There's technique in the pasta-making.  There's 're in balancing fruit with blue cheese.  The pasta was sweet, salty and perfectly toothsome.  It makes me confident to explore other parts of the restaurant because I can tell that they're paying attention to the details.

I'd recommend an exploration even if you're one of the people who hasn't visited in a while.  Facci had rough service in the early years.  I remember being turned away so brusquely that we didn't return for a long time.  But the Facci folks were really great on both visit.  On one visit, our waiter worked with the bartender to find a wine that fit exactly what Mrs. HowChow wanted.  On both visits, folks have catered to Lil' Chow with multiple cheese gratings -- each Parmesan shower making him happier to suck up his spaghetti.

Facci has changed impressively over the years.  They expanded onto a patio.  They added a special bar with artisan meats and cheeses.  I'm not at a happy hour stage of my life, but I recommend it for anything from fancy dates to casual happy hours, from 5 pm toddler dinner to late-night drinks.

The second Facci is in the Turf Valley shopping center.  The original is on Johns Hopkins Road in a shopping center full of food, including Kloby's Smokehouse for barbecue, La Palapa Too for Mexican, and Tandoor Grill for Indian.  In the blog's main political statement, I need to emphasize that they aren't in Laurel.  The post office thinks they're in Laurel, but the center sits west of Rte 29 just south of Columbia.  As I've written, I love Laurel.  This just isn't Laurel.  This is Tribeco.


Scenemaker said...

The area is really in Fulton; but the Laurel postal zip code includes the subject area.

Marcia said...

Been there countless times. Love their happy hour deal for appetizers - half price! We've made a meal on them especially with a group so you can share.

The Turf Valley location has been noisy but have gone early to a quieter meal.

Anonymous said...

Facci is grossly overrated. The pastas are ordinary at best. Their ingredients are subpar (the tomatoes are a joke). And the pizzas, while fine, do not compare to many of the Neapolitan options in DC. Howard County deserves a better Italian spot.

Dan said...

i like Facci but it's often super busy. Coal fire is good too.

Anonymous said...

we had a bad experience at the Facci in Turf Valley (soggy pizzas, underdone pasta) and have not gone back since. Has this location improved?

Anonymous said...

Have had three bad experiences at Facci (rarely do I come back to a restaurant after two). By far, the BEST Italian restaurant in Howard County is Tino's! Been going there about once a month for years and the food, quality and service are consistently excellent!

Anonymous said...

We were pleasantly surprised when we dined at Facci in Turf Valley on Saturday evening, June 20, 2015. We arrived at 5:45 P.M. and we were greeted warmly at the hostess station by a young lady who immediately sat us at a nice booth along an open window. Our waitress, Jamali, was incredibly prompt, as she greeted us within two minutes of being seated. She remained courteous and uber professional during our entire stay and we found her to be one of the best servers we have encountered in Howard County. She is definitely a keeper. We began with the Veggie Flatbread as an appetizer. The flatbread itself was grilled and crisp and easy to handle. It was adorned with artichoke, peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, goat cheese and an excellent balsamic glaze. It was exceptional. Our entrees came from the Lite and Healthy section of the menu. The Salmone alla Rossi, which consisted of grilled salmon, scallops, shrimp, and crabmeat in a scampi sauce served over a bed of fresh mixed vegetables, was plated beautifully. All of the seafood elements were prepared well (often a problem with scallops and shrimp) and the vegetables were seasoned and cooked perfectly. The Germano Candile was, likewise, perfect in every respect. The blackened salmon was excellent, with a crisp edge and a juicy, perfectly cooked middle. It was also served on a bed of fresh vegetables that included asparagus, spinach, and broccoli. The kitchen is not afraid to use salt and pepper when necessary, and the seasoning on this dish was spot on. We also enjoyed a few glasses of Matua Sauvignon Blanc. The restaurant itself is visually appealing, and when crowded as it was when we departed around 7 P.M., moderately noisy. There were a few things that could be improved: the music was barely audible, but when it was, the selections were odd for the dinner hour; the bread that was immediately brought to the table was tasteless; and when people sat in the booth behind us,I kept being propelled forward every time someone in the adjoining booth would push against the shared portion of the seat. That said, Facci is still clearly the best option available in the new Turf Valley Town Center--far superior in every way to Grille 620, Alexandra's and Xitomate, all of which we have tried and have crossed off of our dining out list.

andrea412 said...

I agree with anonymous that the other offerings at Turf Valley are lacking. Xitomate was a huge disappointment the last time we ate there--terrible service and mediocre, lukewarm food. We've dined at Facci at least 6 times and with the exception of one lunch (I think our server forgot to enter our order in the computer and it took forever to get our food) we've had good luck. The food is tasty and the outdoor seating is a rarity in Ellicott City.

So glad you're back to posting BTW! But no pressure, post when your schedule allows! Lil Howchow is only lil once!

keishagrrl said...

The food is fine, but the owner and management are completely horrendous. If you knew how horrible he was you would never eat there. Just ask any staff member who works there currently, as I still do to. Nearly every practice he does is illegal, including paying the entire kitchen staff in cash to avoid paying them overtime. They work open to close 6 days a week. They don't mind the work because they are all illegal. Not all of those delicious pastas are fresh... Fresh from a plastic box my friend. I would keep going, but I'm sure u will delete this anyways

Junior Barnes said...

I went a couple of times to Facci several years ago, but was never a fan because of 1 major reason: the (ab)use of oil(?). If you looked at the napkin in the bread basket it would be soaked in oil and same for the pizza plate. Yuck!! :)

But inspired my Howchow's post, I decided to give them another try. The bread isn't ordinary and has no noticeable oil. Instead there is a side dish of oil and vinegar you can dip the good/fair bread in. I had the "Gamberi alla Sambuca" which is pieces of shrimp served over fried tomatoes with a creamy white sauce. There was something about the batter on the tomatoes with a little help with the sauce that made it quite tasty. I also had the "Bianca Neve" pizza which wasn't my favorite but at least it wasn't soaked in oil. :) I will have to give them another try sometime in the future especially since I now work a few minutes away.