I fell in love with Fiore Market Cafe in South Pasadena, and as I researched about the restaurant that left such an impression on me I fell into the love story of Anne and Bill Disselhorst, the couple who opened Fiore in 2010.
There is a very wholesome and genuine intimacy to Fiore. I was struck by the feeling of welcoming and comfort on my initial visit, perhaps because of the home style decor and appearance of the kitchen, dining room and surrounding garden space. After leaving, I scoured the Internet and social media to learn anything about this restaurant that captured my attention. From there I fell into the beautiful love story of husband and wife duo Anne and Bill Disselhorst.
Thanks to Bill maintaining an under the radar but significant online presence of blog posts and insights into his life, I was fortunate enough to learn the story of Fiore. The Disselhorsts m et as a forbidden romance as Bill was a manager at a restaurant where Anne was a waitress. The couple fell in love, then married and had careers of their own until Bill was laid off in 2010. It was then that they decided to join together in a restaurant once more. Although this time they did it as owners.
Bill’s blog posts and early Instagram posts piece together a wholesome scrapbook of a marriage united through their love of culinary traditions learned through family trips to Italy. Through Bill’s blogs on the Fiore website he writes in simple, yet beautiful prose about his wife, the art behind bread making, starting an edible garden, and gives an insight into the early days of Fiore. He summed up their contributions in a post on the day they signed their lease: “Anne has the artistic vision. I have the food vision. Together we plan to meld our imaginations into something really creative and unique.”
In 2017 Anne unexpectedly passed away. The couple had been married for 30 years. It was a loss for the family and the South Pasadena community. As Bill wrote in 2010, before Fiore opened, “Tomorrow we begin work on a project that is all ours. It’s our vision and our dream to create a European style cafe with the charm and character of something you would find along the Seine in Paris.”
The couple accomplished their goal and was able to watch their dream come to fruition and now it stands as a testament of love and a beautiful romance that came full circle. Bill runs the restaurant, every day fulfilling the goal they set out to accomplish together.
Fiore Market Cafe was a spiritual experience that evokes James Taylor songs and picnics. Fiore is intertwined with the Fremont Centre Theatre, filling the exterior of the theater with an edible garden and patio seating. Fiore is a modestly sized space. There seems to be a perpetual line out of the door, partially because the interior dining room is small, but mostly because the experience is worth the wait. There is patio seating and an edible garden under the veranda outside, where they also feature live music every afternoon.
The menu is simple enough — baguettes, sandwiches and salads, but all done with a gourmet Italian punch up. All of the breads are made in-house at Fiore. In fact, homemade bread is the centerpiece of Fiore’s entire menu, and for good reason, as Disselhorst honed the art of bread making before opening the restaurant and then built the menu around the bread. They are committed to serving the bread fresh, meaning you will never get a loaf that was not prepared the same day.
The roast chicken sandwich is the perfect summer sandwich with a basil walnut pesto, mayonnaise and burrata cheese ($11). The flavor is nothing too complex, with perfectly roasted chicken that’s never dry, and the creamy burrata meeting its perfect complement with the pesto.
Of the mini baguettes, there is the piccolo sopprisotto ($6.50), with bleu cheese and kalamata olives, which essentially rolls up the best parts of a charcuterie tray into a fresh, flavorful, much easier to eat baguette.
The daily specials are the secret stars of the menu. On the Tuesday that I visited I was blessed to come on the day the pork belly bahn mi ($11) made its appearance on the specials board. Served with carrots, jalapenos and ginger mayonnaise, the incredible mixture of rich pork belly cut by the acid of the vegetables made for one of the most pleasant sandwiches I could have asked for on a warm summer day.
The finer details are the icing on the cake of an already incredible experience. The vegetable and herb garden lining the patio is not only beautiful but filled with gorgeous heirloom edibles that find their way onto the fresh, seasonal menu. Sandwich leftovers can be packaged up with the parchment and twine at one of the utensil and water stations. Cold brew coffees ($3.50) and their homemade lemonade ($3) are served in carafes which is a welcome Italian touch.
The dining room and patio make for a beautiful, breezy, casual lunch. Dine-in for the ambiance or take the carefully crafted flavors with you as the absolute quintessential picnic at your next outdoor concert or event.
At Fiore Market Café, the care, consideration and love are evident in each detail.
Fiore Market Cafe
1000 Fremont Ave.,
Major Credit Cards Accepted