BY BRYAN LAVERY
Abruzzi is stylish but casual, with an elegant white marble bar just inside the front entrance. There is an elevated communal table in the centre of the dining room that seats eight. The chairs and banquettes are comfortable. The simple, striking décor with bare brick walls and lots of mirrors, the innovative lighting, and the friendly ambience are all central to the Abruzzi experience.
The menu offerings capture the distinguishing essences of the Italian culinary repitoire. They are intuitive, often iconic, prepared with locally-sourced and quality ethnic ingredients, executed with skill and an eye to detail. The kitchen has a long-standing commitment to procuring local and sustainable ingredients.
Chef Lamers has the ability to take the earthy Italian culinary vocabulary and imbue it with both his idiosyncratic style and a culinary dialect that is responsive to the seasons. Lamers’ stresses simplicity and freshness as foundations of the Abruzzi kitchen philosophy. This is the authentic gastronomic spirit that makes cooking and eating absolutely central to family life, whichever part of Italy you are in.
There is plenty of fresh seafood on the menu, a nod to Lamers’ Martime roots and Italy’s incomparable seafood dishes. Chef prepares everything from scratch on the premises — pastas, gelati, salumi (house-cured pancetta and guanciale) and an array of desserts. Lamer’s brother’s butcher shop in Woodstock supplies all the meats, including 28 day dry-aged beef, which are sourced from the region.
There is a lot to like on the menu. Signature dishes include an appetizer of perfectly cooked grilled octopus, with roasted grape tomato, olives, arugula, fingerling potatoes and romesco (red bell pepper) sauce; and the creamy, all’onda (wavy), and perfectly al dente wild mushroom and prosciutto risotto with Pecorino cheese and distinctively fragrant truffle oil are magnificent. The taste is both delicate and savoury.
Braised wild boar and goat cheese ravioli are outstanding. I recall having braised rabbit with house-made pillow-shaped gnocchi, arugula and house-made ricotta that had a delicious subtle game flavour.
Previous favourites have included: grilled beef tenderloin, with crispy gnocchi, mushrooms, spinach, green beans, red wine and veal stock reduction is a house favourite. Succulent slices of Everspring Farms duck breast accompanied by oyster mushrooms, Swiss chard, caramelized baby carrots, and house-made butternut squash tortellini with dried cherry jus all combine to create a faultless marriage of flavours. This is a stellar dish and drop-dead delicious when ordered medium-rare. Newer to the menu is duck confit crespelle with Savoy cabbage, shiitake mushrooms, foie gras jus, house-cured duck egg yolk.
The superior wine list has plenty of interesting consignments; it reads like the Magna Carta (in a good way) and like the cuisine, is never static, changing to reflect the seasons. Regional wineries – Lailey, Tawse, Pondview, Burning Kiln – all make their way onto the Abruzzi list from time to time.
Food Day Canada is a chance for all Canadians to join hands in one massive celebration in praise of our farmers and fishers; our chefs and researchers and our home cooks.
FOOD DAY CANADA MENU
Available from July 20th to August 1st.
Loco Fields Summer Vegetable Salad, herb dressing
Your Family's Butcher Shoppe Suckling Pig Terrine, sour dough crostini, organic seedlings, house pickled mustard seeds
Pan Seared Weaver Fish Co. Pickerel, Loco Fields new potatoes, Encounter Farms organic carrots, pea puree & snap peas
Your Family's Butcher Shoppe Dry Aged Sirloin Steak & Roasted Bone Marrow, sous vide med-rare, Denboer Family Farms celery root puree, Loco Fields beans & dino kale, red wine jus.
Loco Fields Organic Grilled Zucchini Ravioli, house-made ricotta, basil pesto, confit cherry tomatoes Gunn’s Hill Handeck Cheese
Heeman’s Strawberry Shortcake whipped cream, milk crumble
Heeman’s Cherry Pie, organic honey gelato
$40 per person
Menu may change without notice. Price does not include applicable taxes, alcohol or additional menu items. Please contact us in advance to make reservations and ask about select menu
Abruzzi is one of about 250 restaurants that celebrate Food Day across Canada. Contact them at the number below.
Abruzzi est l’un des 250 restaurants à travers tout le Canada qui participent au Journée des terroirs.
119 King Street,
119 King Street,
519 -675 9995