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Northwest Bentonville
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Get Into the Holiday Spirit at Fiamma Ristorante

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Bentonville is such a great place to be during the holidays. Each year, my family and I drive up from Little Rock for a weekend with the sole intention of soaking up the Christmas spirit.

The main draw is the Bentonville Square.

At night, thousands of lights adorn everything in sight, cascading from branches, engulfing trees, and illuminating the ground. Music plays in the distance while folks mill about, taking pictures and enjoying the cold weather. Outside of The Capital Hotel’s lobby in Little Rock, it’s hard to imagine a more perfect Christmas setting in Arkansas.

But, you know me, food is always going to play a big role in my fun, so after 30 minutes, we walked across the street to Fiamma Ristorante for dinner. The location made it an ideal setting for a post-Christmas lights celebration. The restaurant features a focused menu of Italian and American fare, and, among other things, specializes in housemade pasta.

Make no mistake. There are plenty of excellent dining choices on or near Bentonville Square. Pressroom, Table Mesa, and Tusk & Trotter are a few spots that come to mind. But Fiamma Ristorante is new to me and came highly recommended, so I was eager to try it out.

From start to finish, everything about the restaurant, from the warm and attentive service to the well-executed dishes, was absolutely delightful. In fact, my wife and I thought it was one of the better dining experiences we’ve had in a long time. To start, we gobbled up the complimentary housemade, seasoned focaccia like we hadn’t eaten in days and followed it up with a small plate of fried potatoes with chili aioli. We consumed the potatoes with the same ferocity as we took town the bread.

Entrees of Gnocchi and Shrimp, Pappardelle, Linguini Aragosta, and a salmon special hit the table. All received high marks from our table of discerning diners. My linguini had the perfect bite to it, as did the beautiful, wide sheets of al dente pappardelle. As expected, the Gnocchi and Shrimp was a heavy dish, but the basil pesto-soaked potato dumplings, while a little larger than I prefer, were delicious. The salmon is a must-order if you’re looking for a non-pasta dish. My bites were both tender and flavorful. It was also quite evident that this was a quality piece of fish.

Fiamma Ristorante proved to be an excellent choice for dinner. On this Saturday night, the entire restaurant exuded such an inviting atmosphere, making it a wonderful follow-up to the outside festivities. The food was fantastic, and my family was in the holiday spirit.

Job well done, Bentonville Square and Fiamma. We’ll see you next year and every year.

Fiamma Ristorante
101 W Central Ave, Bentonville, AR 72712
Hours: Monday 4 p.m.–9:30 p.m.; Tuesday-Thursday 11 a.m.–2 p.m., 4 p.m.–9:30 p.m.; Friday 11 a.m.–2 p.m., 4 p.m.–10:30 p.m. Saturday 5 p.m.–10:30 p.m.; Sunday 5 p.m.–9 p.m.
Phone: 479-268-4935 (reservations accepted)

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Kevin Shalin is a food writer living in Little Rock with his wife, Sara, and two daughters, Natalie (12) and Sydney (7). He started his own blog, The Mighty Rib, seven years ago while living in Houston. Six months later, he began writing for Eating Our Words, a Houston Press food blog. After a year in Boston, he moved to Little Rock, where he’s been for almost five years. During that time, he’s written for Little Rock Soiree, Rock City Eats, Treatsie, and Bourbon and Boots.

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