Have you ever been to a restaurant that had a great general manager? Adam Jeal at Trattoria is a gentleman and clearly passionate about hospitality. Young, vibrant and an obvious floor leader as smiling staff whirred around him serving equally smiling patrons discreetly loosening their belts under the table. We were greeted and sat at an initiate table by a window near the heated patio which was still bustling at night in late September.
In Italy a Trattoria is an eating establishment, less formal than a ristorante, but more formal than an osteria. In Kitsilano, the beautiful West 4th to be exact, Trattoria is Vancouverite for upscale Italian dining lounge. Dark and sultry with red shimmering candles centring each table and backlight wine displays lining the walls. Romantic for a Valentine's Day celebration, which we've done, or casual for a couple drinks after work.
We started our culinary experience with a couple drinks because, you know, palate cleansing and all that. I went with the Fig Fashion, a take on the Old Fashion featuring the ancient Egyptian delight; the fig. Maker's Mark Bourbon, fig syrup and angostura bitters. This drink is very tart and may surprise the average patron in its composition. This is not your grandpa's Old Fashioned! I definitely appreciated the extra dilution once the ice started to melt a bit, but a very imaginative cocktails that hits its mark! The Italian Mule varies from its Russian cousin by way of grapefruit bitters which gives it an Aperol-esque Italian tinge. Stoli vodka, lime, the aforementioned grapefruit bitters, simple syrup and ginger beer. Extremely refreshing!
Adam "the Real Deal" Jeal recommended for us the Feature Platter for 2 which Trattoria basically donates to its customers at $60!
- Veal or Chicken or Eggplant entree
- Classic pasta
- 4 Jumbo tiger prawns
- Brussels sprouts and potatoes
- Bottle of House red or white from 49th Parallel
For our entrée we went with the Veal Parmigiana;
breaded and topped with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. Let me preface those meal, as I'd be remiss if I didn't, by saying I am uncomfortable at the notion of killing baby anything: humans, dogs, dreams or cows. I'm sure I'm not the only one? I also hate the thought of full grown cows, shackled on conveyor belts, meeting their end by sledgehammer to the skull yet I devour the rarest of steaks viciously, primally, as though I landed the death blow myself. It's a tough tightrope to walk being a carnivore yet objecting to shark fin soup, for example, or the age at which age it's acceptable to harvest the subservient bovine's flesh. With that in mind I dove into the veal, perhaps only my second venture into the infant meat, though my mind balked at being asked to recall, and I enjoyed it. The Parmesan and tomato sauce bath it received gives it a distinctively Italian flavour, the meat was tender and tangy and it is quite delicious.
The Jumbo Tiger Prawns were plump and perfectly cooked. And we were still munching when our Short Rib Pappardella arrived looking all sexy. Braised short ribs, pine nuts, wild mushrooms in café au lait. Best. Pappardella. Of my semi-young life! Tender and beautifully seasoned short ribs swimming in a creamy, coffee sauce with fresh mushrooms and pine nuts. It would take a very cynical man, half a shell of one really, to find fault with this dish!
Because, in hindsight, he was trying to kill us by stuffing us until we ballooned into a giant blueberry, à la Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Adam also suggested we also try the Risotto of the Day; Truffle Mushroom. Trust me when I tell you the platter is more than enough! The risotto was perfectly cooked, not too al dente and not too mushy; the perfect firmness! If you're a fan of the blog you know that I don't adore truffle now do I swoon for fungi, but this dish turned my head. Cheesy, creamy and rich and without the truffle overpowering it as it so often does. Well balanced, fresh and flavourful. If you read these words and decide to go and are disappointed I will eat my hat!
For dessert we had the Crème brûlée. I was once served crème brûlée, at a fairly upscale restaurant, that was little more than pudding, perhaps store bought, that had been blow torched on top to form a crust. The "crust" of this signature dish whose name literally translates to 'burnt creme', mooshed away as wedove our spoons in her. We were left with a dessert Bill Cosby might like, not because it was passed out, but because it was essentially a bowl of $2 Jello pudding. This ain't that! A hard crust that resisted my initial attempt to pierce its golden skin as though it was John Snow protecting the Wall. 'Thud' as my spoon feebly slid along the top like an ice fisherman failing to break all the way through to the water. When I finally penetrated its protective coating the light, smooth, lemony creme enveloped my mouth with a velvety brûlée decadence almost unrivalled outside of France. You need this dessert on your life, trust me! I'll often have a nice port or sweeter cocktail with my desert and we went with the Shaken Espresso which starts with Stoli vodka and Kahlua and adds in a beautiful espresso brown simple syrup. Don't let the martini glass or the name sway you this is an easy sipping cocktail that is both at home as an accompaniment to a dessert as it would be at a ski chalet!
Trattoria is a fantastic restaurant and the Glowbal Group is the best restaurant conglomerate in Vancouver. Period. They do casual seafood in the Fish Shack as well as they do mind blowing seafood at Coast. Glowbal Grill and its jaw dropping architecture, decor and ambience is the one of best restaurants in Vancouver and Black & Blue is right there with it. Give them a quick Google. There are happy hours and lunch specials and seasonal promotions to tempt even the most frugal diner and Adam's GM service is not the exception he is the rule. Franklin at the Glowbal Grill can make you feel like royalty, Mikey Moore at Black & Blue and Frenchy and crew at Coast delighting restaurant goers. Do yourself a favour and splurge! No one is promised tomorrow.