There's no little old Italian lady in the back of this restaurant!
It's not that grandma's recipes aren't delicious and comforting, but they have a time and place and a trendy dinner on Alberni Street is neither of those things. The stylish setting starts right from when you walk in the double glass doors and the hostess offers to take your coat.
The dim lighting is modern and a creates a romantic balance amongst the greys and metallics found in the remaining decor. It's the perfect setting for an intimate date or birthday dinner with a group of friends.
Travel upstairs and you're transported to a slightly brighter setting with red walls and a central bar. Great for business meetings or dinner with the folks.
Our meal started early on a Wednesday night to accommodate my newly adopted older lifestyle. We sat near the floor to ceiling windows on the second floor where we could view neighbouring restaurants and the now famous Alberni Street and it's must see clientele.
First things first, you don't go for Italian food and get out of there without having a bomb ass red wine, which is exactly where we started. We shared more than a few glasses of the Campofiorin (the 50 year celebration bottle) as recommended by our lovely waitress. I've been a red wino for a while now and it's always nice to find a good bottle, with a fresh palette, and a fair price tag to boot!
Our first course was a delicious arancini with a spicy sauce. The amuse bouche was amousing. If you aren't interested in puns I'll do my best to keep them to a minimum but can't make any promises.
Round 2 of 4 was carpaccio. The complexity of flavours created a depth you don't anticipate from/thinly shaved beef. In my view the unique aspect of this dish was escalated with the crispy polenta, pickled onions, and Dijon sauce that accompanied some more standard elements of a good carpaccio. The true star of this dish was its ingenuity, too often carpaccio is served with day old crostini's which leaves a desire for creativity at the beginning of your evening. Polenta with carpaccio! It doesn't matter how fleet your resident Italian grandmother is, the only way she's serving your carpaccio with crispy fried Polenta is if the polenta's taking up space in her fridge.
Round 3. We shared two mains the Wild Salmon and a Truffled Spaghetti & Signature Meatballs. Did I mention the truffles? Not just truffle oil, but real, fresh shaved truffles!!! Topped of course with fresh shaved parmesan. Have you ever gone to a restaurant and had your waitress ask you to "say when" while referring to fresh Parmesan? On this occasion we definitely pushed the limit! Cheese like snow on top of our perfectly cooked pasta. Typically meatballs aren't my go to but these had such flavour and played perfectly with the marinara that I would definitely order it again.
I don't want to leave the salmon as second place because it deserves better than that. Served with crispy skin and accompanied by golden beats, grilled onions, and olives with a agrodolce (Italian sweet and sour) sauce. The salmon skin was perfectly executed and not oily, the onions were sweet and tasteful but not overbearing. You wouldn't think by glancing at the menu that this would be a full entree but it holds true. The portion of fish was sizeable and at the end of the shared two entrees we were full (even took some to go).
Dessert! Even on a bad day dessert has an opportunity to steal the show. Perhaps it's just the kid in us knowing that we shouldn't indulge but that no one can stop us. I'm happy no one stopped us this night and even happier that we didn't pick the dessert ourselves. Selected for us by Freddie the restaurant manager was the Zeppole - homemade chocolate ganache filled "mini" doughnuts. The not so miniature doughnuts were a delight to all of our senses. They looked and smelt so good the table next to us ordered theirs before we even tasted ours. The taste and fun of cutting open a powdered doughnut filled with rich chocolate ganache was far better than any cheesecake in town...I'm willing to run the comparison.
Whether you're looking for a dinner, business lunch, or a fun night our with friends Italian Kitchen has got you covered. It's upscale dining in a price range that means you can celebrate life's little moments and still afford to pay rent. I recommend a reservation and if you're going with a big group inquire about the platters. If you decide to follow my recommendations and order the Zeppole for dessert make sure you get an extra seat because I may just show up to share it!