The Gist: The expansive new restaurant located on the CNE grounds is an authentic Italian restaurant serving lunch and dinner weekdays, and dinner on Saturdays.
In addition to a taste of Italy, the restaurant offers a picturesque view of the water in an open, modern, comfortable space where you can linger over your meal and drinks.
Grub: Chef Tomo Kovacek (previously of Capocaccia, Quebec, and Auberge Lakeview Inn, Knowlton, Lac Brome) creates authentic fare from regions across Italy. From housemade ‘nduja sausage and homemade soppressata to made from scratch sauces, pastas, pizza and focaccia, the food is sophisticated but not fussy.
"I enjoy simple, good quality ingredients," Kovacek says, so he carefully selects each item – olive oil, fish, and tomatoes, for example – to ensure maximum flavour, and doesn’t rely on many spices. He wants you to taste the ingredients.
Dishes include antipastos, insalates, pastas and risottos, pizzas, pastas, seafood, poultry and meat, as well as dessert, and an offering of daily specials.
Libations: Savour wines from Italy, Spain and California by the glass ($7-$12) and bottle ($32-$165). Enjoy beers on draft and bottle including Birra Italia ($8) and a selection of Moosehead ($9), as well as specialty cocktails including: Orange Blossom with Panarea Gin, Campari, lime juice, rhubarb bitters, and orange blossom mist; and Purple Rain featuring Heavy Water Vodka, black currant juice, lemon juice, and Peychaud Bitters.
Fixtures & Fittings: The casual restaurant has a sleek upscale look thanks to extensive renovations. The space’s former room dividers have been removed to give it an open airy feel with clusters of lantern lights draped from the sky-high ceilings.
One of the most striking features is the curved tiled wall behind the bar that shimmers in the light. Another feast for the eyes? A piano set center stage. Painted in Ferrari red, the instrument made in the 1860s boasts original ivory keys and see-through glass top.
Off the Menu:
Housemade Foccacia (complimentary) with olive oil and balsamic. It’s almost impossible not to devour the addictive warm housemade focaccia, but do save room for the rest of the meal.
Barbebietole ($15) Light yet satisfying, a medley of earthy beet wedges are set atop dressed arugula and topped with a hearty sprinkling of goat cheese.
Grilled Octopus ($16) Thick, tender octopus is grilled to perfection, nestled next to grilled zucchini, eggplant and red pepper, finished with oil and balsamic reduction, and topped with a small tuft of fresh sprouts.
Diavola Pizza ($19) The signature pizza of tomato, housemade soppressata, housemade n'duja, and mozzarella is a spicy one, but delivers tons of flavour too. The Roman-style crust is thin and crispy with just enough chew.
Gnocchi della Casa ($20) Toothsome housemade butternut squash gnocchi is tossed with Italian sausage, red peppers, and rapini resulting in a robust dish that doesn’t weigh you down.
Zuppa di Pesce ($34) You’ll be transported to the Italian seaside between the view of the lake and this seafood stew with plump scallops, shrimps, calamari, mussels, moist salmon fish fillet, served in a fresh, light tomato sauce.
Agnello Scottadito ($32) Grilled New Zealand lamb chops are accompanied by sweet potato puree, rapini, and grilled zucchini, eggplant and red pepper.
Warm Flourless Chocolate Cake ($8) This dessert proves that gluten-free can be delicious.
Panna Cotta ($9) The classic chilled Italian dessert is infused with vanilla. Crushed pistachios on top add crunch.
At the Stove: Chef Tomo Kovacek
Head Honchos: Joe Dominelli
New Business Development: Elvira Muffolini
Map It: 50 Prince Edward Island Crescent (on CNE Grounds)
Visiting Hours: Wed to Fri 11am-10pm
Phone It In: (647) 496-0472
Deets: The restaurant seats 160 guests (15 in private dining room) with room for an additional 200 on the patio. Free wifi and parking are available.
How Cool is This?! Old Italian movies play throughout your meal on TVs set behind the bar. And that piano!
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