Folino’s Wood-Fired Pizza (Shelburne, VT)

A recent trip to Burlington, VT for a visit to the Mini dealer up there gave us an excuse for a long-overdue visit to a place that had been on our hit list for a while: Folino’s Wood-Fired Pizza. Folino’s is nestled in a small building across the street from the Shelburne Museum, and it shares the building with one of our favorite Vermont brewers (of many, the way the Vermont beer scene is these days): Fiddlehead Brewing. It’s a particularly good combination: beer and pizza are already a natural combination, and Folino’s adds to this by being a BYOB joint. So you order up your pizzas, head next door and buy a few growlers of beer, and head back over to Folino’s to settled back with some frosted glasses and enjoy your beer and salad while waiting for your pizzas to be ready. It’s quite the nice setup.

It’s obviously pretty busy at times at Folino’s (it wasn’t, however, for our Friday 11am visit), since the menu has one of the better customer-behavior screeds I’ve seen on it, having “rules of engagement” for ordering pizza. But despite the soup-Nazi-like rant, it’s actually a really good pizza menu. They’ve got both your tomato sauce classics, ranging from the simple mozzarella, to the classic Margherita, to various meat pizzas. And they’ve also got several non-tomato sauce pizzas with olive oil, such as the buffalo chicken, 3 cheese and asparagus, and Italian (Basil, Pine Nuts, Romano, Garlic, Fresh Tomatoes, Mozzarella). Looking over the menu, we opted for a trio of pizzas: the classic Margherita, a pepperoni pizza, and their Prosciutto di Parma with basil. And one of their large salads to start things out.

At a surprisingly large number of pizza places I go, the salad is a second-class citizen (usually some tired lettuce mix or package romaine, overly dressed), but the house salad at Folino’s was no slouch: a very large bowl of nicely prepped lettuce with diced Peppers, cucumbers, shredded carrots and beets, and goat cheese, and served with oil and vinegar on the side, this was a very pleasant bowl of greens and a great start to the meal.

The pizzas were definitely no slouch, either. Let’s start with the Margherita. One of the very classic pizzas, a good Margherita is a great way to tell the character of a pizza place, since you really aren’t hiding the ingredients behind anything. It’s just tomato sauce, cheese, and basil, and any of these can be screwed up quite easily. BBut Folino’s delivered. Working up from the crust, it had a beautiful dark crust that showed they are really getting a good temperature in the oven (I can’t count the number of places I’ve been that have put together wood-fired brick ovens, but never get them hot enough to do a great crust).

The tomato sauce was very fresh and tangy, with a light amount of herbs. The mozzarella was particularly flavorful and nicely cooked just to the point of starting to pick up a char. And the basil was still fresh, green, and herby. Overall, one of the better pizzas I’ve had in the last year.

The prosciutto pizzas was essentially the same pizza as the Margherita, but with the addition of several slices of particularly flavorful prosciutto, just starting to crisp as they stick out from the cheese. This addition took an already great pizza and elevated it another notch.

And for the pepperoni (which I generally refer to as an “ANSI Standard Pizza”)? Also a very good pizza: a nice crust, just enough crispiness on the pepperoni to make it crispy without being too greasy, and a really nice combination of cheese and sauce.

Overall, Folino’s was very pleasant. They’ve got a seriously good lineup of pizzas, some good salads, and a perfect location with plenty of top-notch beer available right next store. This visit to Folino’s was not my last.

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