Tuesday, February 1, 2011


When January hits, it not only kicks off a new year, but the beginning of a new food tasting season.

As an avid frequenter of all things food festival, I make sure to visit at least one restaurant during Winterlicious, Summerlicious, The Taste of Burlington & The Taste of Downtown Oakville.

This year, the Winterlicious restaurant chosen was Joe Badali's Ristorante Italiano (156 Front Street West) http://wx.toronto.ca/inter/se/restaurants.nsf/Winterlicious/DCCD77BE51F4253F85257004007A12EC?OpenDocument

Although named a "Ristorante Italiano", I would classify it more of an "Italian Kelsey's" or "Fancy East Side Mario's"

This restaurant was selected based on rave reviews from previous customers (one being of Italian heritage) and for the menu that offered vegetarian options for my dining partner, Sarah, who after many years as a vegetarian is new to the meat eating world but not quite into red meat. I, on the other hand, am a newly found carnivore and the menu had me at "steak".

The menu selections looked promising, and at a welcome $25 per person for dinner, we were quite excited.
What we had:
Robyn (me)Sarah (friend)
Butternut Squash & Pear Soup
EntreeSteak Diovolo Pasta Penne pasta with top sirloin steak slices marinated in a pesto chili rub, tossed with portabello mushrooms and caramelized onions in a port wine and beef jus reduction.Pollo alla ParmigianaLightly breaded boneless chicken breast baked with fresh tomato basil sauce and mozzarella cheese. Served with pasta and garden fresh vegetables.
DessertDouble Chocolate CakeWhite Chocolate Vanilla Cake
Folonari Valpolicella Classico

The meal was also accompanied by mini ciabatta with and olive oil & balsamic.

I can't say much for Sarah as she genuinely seemed to enjoy her meal. I can say that I was less than impressed and truly understood the meaning of a $25 three course dinner.

The soup was less than comforting, with a runny texture and very little flavour.
The entrée of Steak Diovolo Pasta tasted more like penne in a brown gravy hunter sauce with no hint of pesto nor chili. The steak was very tender but there were only about 4 small slices present, a disappointment to say the least.

As for dessert, I'm not entirely convinced that my Double Chocolate Cake was not in fact, a McCain Deep & Delicious with shaved chocolate added to the top. A dry consistency with a pale hue, hardly considered "double chocolate".

The wine was marked up more than one would generally find. Though not a great wine, Folonari Valpolicella Classico was light enough for a Monday and not too overpowering. With a menu price of $20 per 1/2 bottle (375mL), and $8.95 for a 6oz glass, the wine mark up is astonishing as it has an LCBO list price of $7.95 for 375mL.

I may just have to splurge on one of the $45-$55 menus at a better restaurant to remedy this experience.

Care to join?