Fabio on Fire Panini & Gelateria - Peoria Italian Sandwich Shop

The Valley of the Sun, and all that is tasty therein
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Skillet Doux
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Fabio on Fire Panini & Gelateria - Peoria Italian Sandwich Shop

Post by Skillet Doux »

The OG Fabio on Fire has been a West Valley gem since it opened, so it took me way too long to get to Fabio's new(ish) sandwich and gelato shop. But my son and I dropped by Sun City West and took the grandparents out to lunch recently, and I'm really happy about this place. (And if I were on that side of town, I'd be even happier about it.)

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It's a chill little joint. You're basically looking at the entire restaurant here. And for some reason I was under the impression that it was next door to the original FoF, but it's a few miles away.

In any case, Fabio's keeping it simple — panini and gelati, as the name suggests, nothing else. There are about a dozen panini, all built on the same bread that he's cooking in the wood-fired oven on site. I'm not educated on the finer points, but I understand it's a type of bread called puccia, which comes from Apulia... opposite end of the country from Ceschetti's native Domodossola, but hey, good bread is good bread :-)

Anyway, we sampled a few.

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The Donna di Cuori is probably my favorite of the ones we tried. You'll recognize the mortadella, of course, and the cheese is stracciatella di bufala — a buffalo mozzarella that plays like burrata in that the curds are stretched and mixed with cream. It's about as rich and creamy as you expect. There's also a healthy smear of pistachio pesto, arugula and olive oil. Nice quality on the ingredients, great combination, but even classy fillings like these are almost upstaged by the bread.

The bread's really nice. It's a high-hydration dough that he's fermenting for 72 hours, and it tastes like it. Great developed flavor. But this is so perfect for sandwiches. He's getting a really nice, robust crust, but it's light bread that goes down easy. And it's baked in a thin oval shape so that you can fill it full of stuff without it getting unwieldy.

The Delicata was also rather nice — a big pile of roasted red peppers with artichoke cream, provolone and Parmesan cream. I think this one needed better peppers to really shine, but to be fair I'll be damned if I've ever been able to find a bell pepper as good as the ones at every market stand in Italy.

The Porchetta is mighty fine, too, but whoa buddy, our sandwich maker wasn't messing around with the mayo :-D

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Roasted onions, pecorino, arugula... and a really nice herbaceous bite from the porchetta. If this was their usual balance, I'd request easy mayo. But that aside, another damn fine sandwich.

We tried some of the gelato as well, and I want to make another pass. Nice flavor on the pistachio, but awfully soft, even for gelato. And I just wasn't getting the flavor out of the chocolate that I hoped for. But all caveats apply — one visit, two little samples out of a whole case. I wouldn't read too much into it.

But those sandwiches and that bread... this is worth seeking out if you're going to be in that part of town, and if I lived in Peoria, I'd be here constantly. This is an excellent little joint, particularly for that neighborhood. I hope it finds the audience that it deserves.

Fabio on Fire Panini & Gelateria
24775 N. Lake Pleasant Parkway
Peoria, AZ 85383
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