527 Brant Street
|Logo property of Eatalia|
Let me begin by saying that Italian food has never been my favourite type of food. There was a time when I was younger (I am actually old enough that I can start a sentence that way) and wasn't a foodie, that I considered places like East Side Mario's good Italian food. Boy, have I grown and learned. My first foray into real Italian food was probably during our vacation to Italy. Before our trip, I quickly learned in my pre-trip research that East Side Mario's isn't even close! We were not going to find "Linguine Chicken Tetrazzini" on any menu in Italy!
Since then, I have had the pleasure of experiencing some very good authentic Italian...there's Capri's in Cambridge and Scarpetta in Toronto. But honestly, I can say that I have never been wowed by an Italian eatery...that is until I tried Eatalia!
Edgar made a connection with Linda from Tourism Burlington on Twitter and she in turn connected us with the manager of Eatalia, Ozgun Intepe who invited us to come down and try Eatalia. I am so glad that all these connections happened because it resulted in a wonderful meal.
We arrived at the restaurant and were greeted by Oz himself at the door and quickly shown to our table. Our server Lisa was energetic, bright and very helpful. She explained a few thing to us and then got us some water while we decided what we wanted to drink and eat.
I order a glass of the "Chardonnay Verduzzo San Tizano". Our server quickly explained that this was a light wine. I told her that that would be perfect. I wanted a refreshing glass of wine to accompany my meal.
The wine was as she promised. It was a very young, light flavoured wine. I rather enjoyed its uncomplicated flavours. Our server Lisa brought us a beautiful bread basket to start munching while we picked what we wanted to eat.
We ordered two appetizers to share. The "Polenta Fries with Truffled Brown Butter Escargot" and "Calamari", we opted for the lightly dusted and fried version served with "Chili Roasted Garlic Aioli".
Wow, wow, wow, wow, wwwwooooowwww...the polenta fries with the truffled brown butter escargot was to die for! The polenta itself was creamy on the inside and crispy on the outside...just amazing and the escargot...what can I say...the sauce was flavourful and delicious. Absolutely out this world good.
The calamari without a doubt was the best I have ever eaten! It was lightly dusted so no heavy exterior just a light, not greasy texture and the calamari itself was perfectly cooked and seasoned. Incredibly delicious. The accompanying aioli was the perfect match to the calamari.
For my main course, I ordered one of their speciality pastas - simply labeled as "Pappardelle" on the menu. It was served with a "truffled cream sauce, poached chicken, baby spinach and double smoked bacon".
This was hands down the best pasta I have ever eaten to date. Sorry if this upsets anyone but I can not lie. OMG! This was decadent and delectable all rolled into one and put into a bowl. The truffled cream sauce was rich and flavourful with the truffle shining through in the sauce. The chicken, spinach and double smoked bacon were the perfect accompaniments to the perfectly cooked pappardelle noodles. I was truly blown away by how good this pasta was!
As for dessert, we opted for one dessert, the "tiramisu" and we could share it! But Chef Jake insisted on sending us out the "torta al cioccolato" as well. All I knew was that the tiramisu is made in house by "a tiny lady in the kitchen" - that's what our server said anyway! And that the torta took fifteen minutes to bake since it was scratch made in the kitchen.
Again, I was truly impressed. The tiramisu was delicious...light and airy. It wasn't served in the traditional square slice but rather it was scooped with an ice cream scooper and topped with berries. You get four little delectable tiramisu scoops each topped with a blueberry. As our server said...it's so light...the calories don't count. I totally agree!
The torta al cioccolato was very reminiscent of a molten lava cake only done the Italian or rather Eatalian way...topped with pistacho gelato and served with what looked and tasted like a caramel sauce. Decadent and delicious. I've been saying that a lot during this post, but I can't help it...the whole meal was outstanding.
At the end of the night, Chef Jake came out for a second visit and actually took the time to sit with us and talk food. You can definitely see the passion that this chef has...he has done an amazing job of modernizing Italian cuisine and bringing it into a whole new light.
I truly enjoyed my dinner at Eatalia. It was outstanding and I would not hesitate on returning or suggesting it to anyone who truly enjoys Italian food.
In his opinion:
Italian food can take on many shapes and forms. Especially on this side of the Atlantic! I find that in this country, most Italian restaurants are either trying too hard to keep it traditional or on the flip side, are going in the opposite direction and changing it up too much. In my travels through Italy, I found that traditional still reigns supreme but an infusion of new items and flavours have creeped in, without the blunt attempt of modernizing or changing Italian food all together.
This is what I expect to see more and more in Canadian-Italian restaurants and luckily on this fine evening, I found it at Eatalia. Eatalia is an Italian eatery situated in Burlington in a former bank location on Brant Street. The setting is very nice, highlighted by an all glass main room with very high ceilings that somehow still give a warm feeling to the room. The restaurant combines style and design in both the space and their food.
After being greeted and shown to our seats by Oz, the very pleasant and attentive restaurant manager, we were again greeted by an equally attentive waitress. The menu spans all the expected ranges of Italian dishes such as pizzas, calamari, risotto and traditional pastas; however, in between the familiar words on the menu you will find some hints that this is not exactly an extremely traditional Italian menu. This is in part because of Chef Jake Rujevic's vision that pushes the food at this restaurant to be all it can be, beyond your usual "Nonna's recipes" per se.
I started by ordering a glass of Chianti Ca'del Doge, a medium bodied, ruby red colour with fruity aromas and well balanced tannins. The bread basket came to the table and featured Focaccia bread which was spongy, full of flavour from the tomato or garlic toppings, house made flat bread with herbs and an excellent eggplant spread. A good sign of what was to come...
For appetizers, we shared 2 dishes that promised a lot of excitement. The first was "Polenta Fries with Truffle Brown Butter Escargot". Now, for a foodie like myself having words like truffle, butter, escargot and polenta in the same sentence is like achieving nirvana. The polenta was served in 2 long pieces, not deep fried like they do it in my hometown but baked and served with a decadent truffle cream sauce. I cherished every single bite of that polenta and its sauce to the point of "scarpetta" (scooping the leftover sauce with some bread). Excellent pairing for the polenta by the way...the escargot nestled between the polenta fries was probably the best escargot I have ever had, with due respect to all the great French Chef's that I have had the pleasure of sampling from throughout the years and around the world.
The second appetizer was a bit more predictable in the form of calamari. The rings were lightly dusted, still together and tasted as fresh as if it had been picked out of the ocean that morning. Perfectly cooked and served with a delicious "Chili Garlic Aioli" dip.
For my entree, I selected "Risotto #2". A tomato sauce based risotto surrounding a medley of wonderful sea creatures such as cultivated mussels, jumbo shrimps, bay scallops, calamari ringlets and clams. The seafood tasted very good, again super fresh and it was an excellent compliment to the risotto. I did not get any scallops in my dish but I'm sure it was just a selection issue. I also did find the risotto itself a little more "saucy" than I'm used to, but without losing any flavour because of this.
I had a chance to sample the papardelle pasta and I must admit that the truffle cream was in a league of its own. It is very hard to make a sauce so abundantly rich in truffles without overpowering the dish, but Chef Jake R. was able to do it.
For dessert, I got my usual espresso and it wasn't too bad...for those that know me that's a compliment as I'm super picky with my espressos. We also shared a tiramisu and a gift from the kitchen in the form of a baked chocolate torta with pistachio ice cream. The torta was creamy and delicious and what I can only describe as something between a brownie and a molten chocolate lava cake, but twice as tasty. The tiramisu was actually served in 4 perfect spheres and topped with blueberries. It was light, fluffy and not hard on the stomach as some traditional tiramisus can be...bonus!
We had a chance to talk to Chef Jake and I was very impressed with his humble and simple approach to Italian food and cooking in general. He is not afraid to take risks and the proof was in the great meal and discerning ingredients that he obviously combines to make this food so exceptional. I had read some mixed reviews about this restaurant but given the quality of the meal and the service I experienced, I wonder if these other people actually "ate" there? I for one, was more than pleasantly surprised and that doesn't happen very often.
The Good: Outstanding flavours in a well prepared Italian meal is what you should expect to find at Eatalia. The atmosphere is great, the staff is friendly and the menu has something for everyone.
The Bad: Again my unfounded complaint is that it isn't closer to my house and no scallops were found in my seafood risotto.
The Verdict: It takes a fair bit to impress us both, especially as far as Italian food is concerned. We have traveled through Italy in search of culinary wonders, but would go as far as saying that the food at Eatalia is as good or better than any place we ventured to in Italy. Chef Jake has found the right formula to elevate Italian Food to what it should be and seldom is, palate excitement!
I give it 4 out of 5 Olives as rating