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Posts tagged ‘Italian food’

Restaurant Review: Villa Firenze

Location: 610 1 Ave NE

Although this is not my first time at this restaurant, it’s my first time coming here that isn’t a work function.  I do apologize for not uploading this in a timely manner, but with the weekend I’ve had it’s been hard.  I’ve been trying to battle this cold/flu, finished off a rotation in litigation, started a rotation in corporate, and went to a wedding.

Every experience I’ve had here has been a pleasant one, this was no exception.  After work, a friend, Carmen, and I set off to the restaurant.  It was a short 10 minute walk from her law firm.

We were promptly seated and presented with menus.  We decided on two appetizers: their famous Portobello Mushroom and a Caesar salad.  I decided to try the Gnocchi Pesto alla Panna and Carmen had the Linguine con Vongole.  The Portobello Mushroom was absolutely delicious.  With it’s mild grilled flavour and a texture that was slightly reminiscent of steak, smothered in a cream sauce.  There wasn’t a speck of mushroom or sauce on the plate when we were done with it.  The Caesar was more classic.  It was a little more aggressively dressed than I would have liked, but the amount of garlic was just perfect.  Sure some may say it was too garlicky, but as you guys know, there’s no such thing with me.  By this time I was actually almost full.  I probably could have just done with a calamari and called it a night, but no, our entrees came.  Gnocchi, being potato and pasta, is a lot of carbs and therefore, is very filling.  I barely got in more than five bites before I had to call it quits.  It was good, but it wasn’t exactly what I had expected.  It was clear that the pesto was made in house, which I appreciated, but I wanted a little more olive oil and a lot more garlic.  While I don’t know exactly what Carmen’s linguini was like, clams in white wine is a classic combination and based on the fact that she cleared her plate, I knew she had really enjoyed it.

Based on this experience and past experiences I would definitely come back.  Although next time I do hope that I won’t be sick and that I’ll be able to better appreciate the intricacies of the flavour profiles that each dish has.  Next time I would want to try the calamari and perhaps even a dessert…say a tiramisu?

I would rate this experience a 4.5/5.


Appetizers: Portobello Mushroom with a Cream Sauce, Caesar Salad, and complementary bread with olive oil and vinegar


Gnocchi Pesto alla Panna


Linguini con Vongole

Restaurant Review: Via Cibo

Location: 101-104 Country Village Rd NE

Years ago, I went here with my parents and sister after our trip to Italy, but I don’t remember much of it.  The only thing I remember of that trip was getting a macchiato and having my dad say, “That’s even stronger than what I drink.” It made for a good laugh.

This time, I had the fortune of going with my boyfriend, his cousin, and her kids. The best part about this was that we got to share everything family style, allowing us to try out more dishes off their menu. Via Cibo isn’t like your typical sit down restaurant. It’s setup more like Vendome’s is: you order at the counter and are given a number. Once the dishes have been prepared, they are brought out to your table.

Most everyone had a generic drink (soft drink or juice), but I ordered an Italian soda. Since they had cherry, I went for it. Usually it’s my sister who has the Italian soda, but today I felt adventurous. There was a nice balance of syrup to carbonated water making it so that it wasn’t too bland or too sweet.

That evening we ordered a pepperoni pizza for Braeden and two formaggio (cheese) pizzas off the children’s menu (which is actually a meal combo which comes with a drink and gelato) for Cindy’s kids, Keenah and Taye. The pepperoni pizza isn’t like the chain pizza joints’ style of pepperoni pizza. The crust was thin where the toppings were and airy around the edges.  It was garnished with rosemary which set it apart from most other kinds of pepperoni pizza, giving it an almost more high class, refined taste. And the pepperoni tasted like cured meat usually tastes, unlike pepperoni on store bought or chain pizza restaurants, which tastes just like salt.  Cindy and I ordered the Gnocchi and Steak Italiana to share. The Gnocchi was a no brainer as it had been a recommendation from Cindy/a friend of hers.  The Gnocchi consisted of a Gorgonzola cream sauce, pancetta, and slow roasted tomato, garnished with green onion and Grana Padano. I am typically apprehensive about dishes that contain Gorgonzola or any form of bleu cheese because of its strong taste and smell. However, this was not the case with this dish. For those who don’t know, pancetta is essentially Italian bacon, which of course enhanced the flavour of the dish, potentially masking.  Another reason could be that Gorgonzola is a milder bleu cheese than others I have had. One bite of the gnocchi was all it took to send me to cloud nine. If luxury was a dish, this would be it. The richness of the dish made me feel as though I was dining in a high end, expensive restaurant rather than a place serving Italian street food. My only reservation about this dish is the addition of the tomatoes. They did not serve to enhance the flavour or add anything to the dish. The second thing, I’m not sure if this is a reservation or not, but the balance of gnocchi to pancetta was off. I’m not sure if that was originally how it was or if it was because the gnocchi was so good that we were too focused on eating that and not paying attention to the pancetta. The Steak Italiana was something more reminiscent of Italian street food. It consisted of Grilled Steak, arugula, carmelized onion, slow roasted tomato, Grana Padano, and a Pesto Aioli. The steak was perfectly cooked.  The tomatoes had far more utility in this dish than in the gnocchi. There was a nice balance of sweet (tomatoes and onions), salty (steak and Grana Padano), bitter (arugula), and richness (onion and aioli) in the sandwich. The sandwich came with a small salad that provided the acid the dish needed. However, since we got so much food, I wasn’t able to finish the salad on my own. Lastly we got Tuscan fries to share (regular for the kids). The Tuscan fries were aggressively seasoned with rosemary and salt with a hint of white truffle oil, garnished with Grana Padano and served with a spicy aioli. I found the fries to be a little on the salty side, but they had good flavour and crunch.

For dessert the children consisted of Nutella gelato. Brae got the mango pineapple gelato, and I got a pistachio affogato. Turns out Brae loved it so much that after we left, we actually came back later that evening to get another one and came back again the following day. This was my first time getting an affogato. An affogato is  gelato with a shot of espresso. Although I chose pistachio, I feel like coconut or something creamier (chocolate -which they were out of- or vanilla) would have complemented the espresso better because pistachio has such a light flavour that it got lost. The next day, when Brae came to get his mango pineapple gelato, I got the coconut one. It is more like a sorbetto than a gelato and I’m thinking it probably wouldn’t have worked any better.

If I had another stomach I would’ve tried the mushroom pizza they had on special. If their pizza was anything like the one I had at Scopa, I would have died. That pizza is truly the most amazing, delicious pizza I have had in my life. Maybe next time I go they’ll still have it.

Based on my experience this time, I would rate it 4.5/5 and would definitely return. I love restaurants with an open kitchen so that I can watch them cook, but also because I can see exactly how far along they are along with my dish and watch them walk my food out to me. The wait staff was patient and very helpful and friendly. I can’t wait to come back here again another day.






Formaggio (Cheese) Pizza


Tuscan Fries


Steak Italiana


Pepperoni Pizza


Mango Pineapple Gelato


Pistachio Affogato

Restaurant Review: Fiore Cantina Italiana

Location: 638 17 Ave SW

Tonight after work, I was pleasantly surprised when we arrived at Fiore Cantina. I had walked and driven by on several occasions, always wondering if the food was any good. I was happy to finally be trying it out. We arrived at Fiore for an early dinner and found the restaurant to be quite empty with the exception of four or five other tables, so we were quickly seated and presented with a menu. Though the menu was not huge like Chianti’s or Boston Pizza, it didn’t give the feeling that there was no choice. Once we were seated, the waitress came immediately to fill up our glasses, but neglected to ask if we wanted anything else to drink.
We started with a calamari, as we often do because it is one of my favourite appetizers. For our mains, my dad and I had the Combo Italiana, my mom had the Bocconcini Pizza and my sister had the Tortellini Bombay. We didn’t have to wait long for the calamari to arrive at our table. Though the menu specified that we had a choice of marinara or tzatziki sauce, the waitress didn’t ask and just brought us the tzatziki sauce. Personally, I didn’t mind the tzatziki because it was fresh and the cucumbers added a cool refreshing aftertaste in my mouth. My dad would have preferred the marinara because, as he said, it would have provided a bit of acidity to counter the deep fried oiliness of the calamari. The calamari itself was lightly breaded and had a wonderful, audible crunch to it. The only issue I had with it was that it was unevenly seasoned, leaving some pieces saltier than others.
The Combo Italiana, is not unlike Chianti’s Combinazione della Casa. This dish is a trio, in a sense, a sampler of three different pastas. Like Chianti’s, it features a veal stuffed cannelloni, spinach fettuccine alfredo, and chicken parmesan. Unlike the Combinazione della Casa, it was hot, but also unlike the Cominazione della Casa, the spinach fettuccine was very piece, in other words, it was like the pasta had been broken into little bits to fit into the pot to be cooked and served. Firstly, if I order fettuccine, I expect it to be in one strand. Secondly, when I order any kind of pasta at an Italian restaurant, I expect it to be al dente…it was not. The cream sauce was rather bland and not as rich as an alfredo sauce ought to be. Frankly, the fettuccine component of the dish was an utter disappointment, making me glad that I didn’t decide to order the fettuccine alfredo instead of the Combo Italiana. This dish, however, was not a complete disappointment. The cannelloni and chicken parm were done perfectly; they were moist and flavourful and the cheese was so stringy! My sister’s tortellini was another dish I was contemplating ordering, but decided against it when it listed that it would be served with broccoli. The curry cream sauce gave Chianti’s curry cream sauce a run for its money, but Fiore has the upper hand on this one in that the curry cream had a bit more heat than Chianti’s, which is something I expect from curry. The unfortunate thing is that the curry cream was the star of the dish not the tortellini. The tortellini itself was rather dry. We had difficulty discerning what the ground up meat inside was. Upon rechecking the menu, it stated it was chicken, but either way, it was overcooked, while the pasta was a little under. And broccoli is broccoli, there’s nothing good, bad, or exciting I can say about that. I would have to say the best dish of the night was my mom’s bocconcini pizza. She opted to add bacon to it. In the end we all agreed that that had been unnecessary and having the pizza as it was would have been just as good. The pizza was almost as good as the ones that we had in Italy. The crust was perfectly crispy. I’m glad it wasn’t burnt like it was in Italy. There wasn’t too much on the pizza and therefore, the crust didn’t get soggy like the pizza my mom had at Pulcinella’s. The bocconcini pizza was essentially a caprese salad on a pizza minus the balsamic vinegar reduction, which was fine. The only thing was, was that the bacon made the pizza really salty. So again, it really wasn’t necessary to add it.

The restaurant is self-described as being modern Italian and the restaurant’s interior really reflects that. It is different from most Italian restaurants because there aren’t heavy velvet curtains covering the window and there are lots of windows to let in natural light. My only concern was the torch like contraption by our table…it was being held by two thin coils of metal. I was afraid that it would fall on us. It was probably a completely irrational fear, but anyways.

The biggest thing for me for Italian restaurants is how well they prepare their pasta. If they can’t prepare it to perfection, it’s no different from going to a burger joint and ordering a pasta there. For that reason, I’d rate this place 3/5.

Calamari with Tzatziki

Calamari with Tzatziki

Combo Italiana

Combo Italiana

Bocconcini Pizza

Bocconcini Pizza

Tortellini Bombay

Tortellini Bombay

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