In her opinion:
Del's Enoteca Pizzeria was formerly known as Del Dente. It is part of the Charcoal Group and a personal favourite of mine. Once upon a time in our desolate region there was even less choice then there is now and Del Dente was the place to go to for all those special occasions...birthday, engagements, anniversaries, etc. But as new and different restaurants opened up...it got placed in a small recess of my brain. So this last week when we were trying to figure out where to have dinner with friends and little light bulb went off and I remember Del Dente...only it's not called Del Dente anymore!
Del's Enoteca Pizzeria is the reincarnation of Del Dente...it has a new menu, new look but it has kept the tried and true features. When I called to make a reservation for 7 people on Friday night at 6 pm, I was initially told that they couldn't accommodate us until 7:30 pm but when I explained that we had children and that time wouldn't work...they bent over backwards to make it happen. I was very impressed.
When we arrived, the first thing I noticed was that the wonderful sign that hung facing King Street East with the kitchen utensils was gone. I was a little disappointed since I had always loved that sign...however, when we parked I noticed that they had recycled part of the old Del Dente sign and had indeed used the utensils near the entrance. The interior is also new and nicely decorated. Loved the vespa parked by the washrooms.
We were shown to our table and were greeted right away by our server Jesse who was friendly and prompt. She filled our water glasses and asked if we wanted anything else to drink. After discovering that they served Coca Cola products, I ordered my usual Diet Coke.
We were then visited by the Manager, Jesse. It seems that Jesse plays soccer with Edgar...it really is a small world. Our server brought over the famous flower pot bread and a couple of savoury butters and the manager Jesse sent over a couple of appetizers for us to try. The first one was the Mozzarella Frico. This which consisted of crisp mozzarella, tomato sugo, olive oil and fresh herbs.
This was really lovely. The mozzarella had the right amount of gooey goodness and the tomato sugo was delicious.
The other appetizer was the Bruschetta. This consisted of artichoke, oven dried roma and fresh cherry tomatoes, red onion, arugula and grilled focaccia.
This was also really good. The flavours worked well together and there was a gorgeous stream of balsamic vinegar trying the whole thing together. Just excellent.
After studying the menu, I had opted to try the Veal Marsala. It is described in the menu as veal cutlets, caramelized onions, mushrooms, wilted baby spinach, spaghetti with garlic oil and fresh herbs with marsala cream sauce.
This was blow your mind good! Best veal marsala that I have had in a really long time. So incredibly tender and delectable. The spaghetti was cooked perfectly and the marsala cream sauce was just so lovely. It was well worth the $24 price tag.
I wasn't planning on dessert as I was incredibly full but Jesse sent over a sample dessert platter for us to sample what they had available. This consisted of the lemon tart, the house made Sicilian cannoli and a scoop of raspberry sorbet.
The sorbet was light and lovely. The cannoli was so fresh and delicious. But the show stopper was the lemon tart. The best lemon tart that I have ever had...definitely the stuff of dreams or at least my foodie dreams!
I loved our dinner at Del's Enoteca Pizzeria! What a great dinner...it won't be ages until we return again.
In his opinion:
Revamping an old classic is always a tall order and I'm sure re-inventing the early success of Del Dente was on the forefront of The Charcoal Group's mind with this make-over. The restaurant now called Del's Enoteca has a totally different feel than it did before even though the space still kept the familiar layout and overall look. It feels fresher, more sophisticated and brighter.
Bringing Mark Andrew Brown (Chef de Cuisine) with his experience from the Breadalbane Inn and from teaching at Stratford Chef School is a great move and probably the reason that the focus is so high on local fresh ingredients.
We were shown our table quickly and the waitress was prompt in welcoming us and taking our drink orders. As I looked around, the room was filled with people enjoying themselves and that seemed somewhat oblivious to the background music that was a bit loud for regular conversation. After our drink orders went in, I had a chance to take a better look around and admire the nice new decor.
As I was browsing the menu, it was nice to see that not everything was changed in this restaurant. The hot bread in the clay pot survived the renovation and that was motive for joy, I really enjoy that bread and especially with the variety of spreads available for it. We were treated to some appetizers by the manager Jesse Corrall and that started our night off on the right foot. "Mozzarela Frico" with tomato sugo. This crispy mozzarella was perfect in consistency and the tomato sugo was very good. This was a bit different from the normal typical Italian sauce that we are used to but just as good. Olive oil and fresh herbs topped the plate for added taste.
For my entree, I ordered one of my favourite not Italian (but sounds like it should be) dishes, the Tetrazzini. Luisa, the Italian Opera singer for which the dish is supposed to be named after would have been proud. This was also the dish that I cooked when I proposed to my wife, so it holds a special place in my heart.
The dish was well presented, smelled great and completely covered in Parmesan at my request. This dish was made with fettuccine, generous pieces of herb roasted chicken, a combination of portobello and cremini mushrooms, fresh herbs, marinated tomatoes and a creamy yet subtle cream sauce. The pasta was perfectly cooked. It wasn't stuck together even though large amounts of Parmesan were present. I truly enjoyed this dish and it will rank up there with some of the best tetrazzini's that I have ever had (but slightly below my own of course)!
As I had devoured endless bread with my large portion (you get a choice of small or large size) of pasta, I had no room for dessert. Jesse was kind enough to send us a treat for dessert and it was much appreciated. It consisted of a small Sicilian cannoli, a lemon tart and a scoop of raspberry sorbet. I enjoyed the cannoli, brought me back to our old traditions of getting cannolis while watching episodes of the Sopranos but enough of Italian American references for this blog.
Unfortunately, we didn't get to try the pizza this time around but the reviews I heard about the "Stone Heart Oven" pizza were very good. A must for our next visit.
The Good: Well made food, very good service and an ambiance to match.
The Bad: Background music was a bit loud and I missed the old "Learning Italian" tapes playing in the washrooms.
The Verdict: Successful renovation with a great injection of life into a tired concept. The place feels alive and the change in cuisine, concept and ingredients add to the success of this place. The atmosphere is lively yet refined enough for a date night.
I give it 3 1/2 out of 5 Olives as rating