Victor Fiorillo, Travel Writer + Outspoken Philly Restaurant Reviewer

Victor may be Philly's bad-boy dining critc, but he's a very good travel writer

Philadelphia City Hall
©Getty Images/Eric Bowers Photo

A Real Philly Boy (and Journalist, Performer, Foodie, Dad)

Guest Author Victor Fiorillo is a Philly boy through and through. He was born and bred in the Philadelphia area and continues to call it home. He is the Senior Reporter and Arts & Entertainment Editor for Philadelphia magazine, where he writes about pretty much everything, including luxury travel. Mainly, he's a Philadelphia restaurant reviewer.

From the Jersey Shore to the World: When Victor was a child, family vacations amounted to trips to the Jersey Shore and St. Petersburg (Florida, not Russia) to visit relatives. On one occasion, his daring parents brought the kids to Niagara Falls. As an adult, Victor has rebelled.

Victor's sense of adventure developed dramatically. The young Philadelphian's first trip abroad was to Morocco and Mauritania. He fell in love with this flavorful part of North Africa and has returned twice with his backpack. Other off-road journeys have taken him to far-flung and not-the-same-old destinations such as Haiti, Guatemala, Ecuador, and India.

Victor also enjoys more relaxing vacations of the swaying-palm-tree variety. He has spent time in te Caribbean (on Saint Lucia, Turks & Caicos, the Bahamas) and on Mexico's Caribbean coast, in Cancun. Victor honeymooned in upstate New York and Montreal. His dream trip, he says, is the Vietnam-Cambodia-Laos Circuit. "I need to ride an elephant and wear one of those conical straw hats, he says. "I think that living the way they do tropical Asia would stir up some interesting dreams."

"In the middle of nowhere, you'll find Zen," Victor says. "Every place that I travel to, I try to find the spot that feels like 'the middle of nowhere." What I mean is a place that you didn't expect nd can't really describe: someplace that's the opposite of familiar. There's a little bit of danger in a place like that, a sense that anything can happen there." Victor says, "Then and there: that's when I feel most alive."

So where has Victor found Zen in the middle of nowhere? The top of a mountain in Séguin, Haiti; on Mauritania's endless, rolling expanses of the Sahara; and on windswept Cap Point, the remote, un-touristy northern tip of St. Lucia, where the Atlantic surf churns against volcanic cliffs.

Understatement: Victor likes to stay busy. He writes monthly contributions to the print version of Philadelphia magazine. His subject is often dining, but he covers "everything that happens in this unpredictable town," he says. Victor also writes frequently for websites that Philadelphia magazine owns, ThePhillyPost.com and the very popular Philadelphia restaurant blog, Foobooz (don't eat out in Philly without consulting it!)

Victor doesn't mind a little controversy. This is a high-profile journalist and no shrinking violet. He thrives in the spotlight both onstage and on the page. He's known for calling it as he sees it, and for writing honest critical restaurant reviews. "I'm anonymous when I review, and I hate rude service as much as anyone," he says."Sometimes a restaurant's popularity creates a snotty velvet-rope attitude," Victor observes. "I need to tell readers what they'll experience at that place."

A performing streak runs through Victor's family. He is also a musician, having studied classical piano since the age of four. He is the keyboard player in the popular Philadelphia band The Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret, which also performs in New York's prestigious Joe's Pub, in the Public Theater.

Victor's dad's hobby will surprise you. "I get my showmanship from my father," says Victor. He was a Philly businessman who, after hours, was a magician.

Like the universe, the Fiorillo family is expanding. In his spare time, Victor is the proud father of two youngsters, a boy and a girl. He is a doting husband to his wife, Suchita, who was born in India and is a social worker ni Philly.

Where to Catch More of Victor Fiorillo: follow him on Twitter; read him on the popular Philly dining site Foobooz; watch Victor perform with The Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret (he's on keyboards, and you'll be glad you watched this)/

Read Victor Fiorillo's Latest on Luxury Travel: It doesn't get more central than this in Manhattan: The Westin New York Grand Central Hotel.