Enoteca, little sister to Cioppino’s, is not a lesser version of its sibling; it is an intimate casual dining experience highlighted a visibly extensive selection of fine wines, impeccably prepared dishes, and attentive staff. The dining room is enveloped in warm honey tones contrasted against the rustic brick of the original construction. Always a popular destination, this is a favourite hangout of the glitterati – there is no shortage of those who want to “see” and be “seen”. A warm welcome from manager, Celestino, always starts off this dining experience positively and hints at wonderful things to come.
Both of my visits resulted in a very satisfied experience. The crab and avocado salad is a wonderful start to stimulate the palate, the avocado perfectly complementing the crab. A huge fan of ravioli, I chose, as my primo piatti, the veal and spinach selection with the sage butter sauce and I was not disappointed. However, my entree brought my dining experience to new heights – the braised short ribs just fell apart as my mouth closed upon the fork. Served in a red wine reduction, there was a hint of sweetness which added a touch of lightness to a traditionally heavy dish. My dining partner chose the ahi tuna which was lightly seared and served in a delightful tomato soy vinaigrette; it was reported to have melted in his mouth. It disappeared before I could have a taste! Likewise, the lobster ravioli, which another chose as their main course, was rich and flavourful accompanied by a lovely tomato cream lobster sauce.
Celestino assured us that the kitchen could accommodate any special dietary needs. Unfortunately, the menu is a challenge for vegetarians as there are few meatless choices; however, if the kitchen obliges, vegetarian versions are available upon request.
An extensive bar and cellar serves to round out the menu. We chose to complement our dinner with local wines because the 56 page wine list was too daunting for us neophytes. However, the wine selection would be a joy for those who consider themselves aficionados. An impressive display of single malt scotches situated beside our table hinted at what was available after dinner.
I must also add that we had a dedicated server who waited upon our party of 6 the entire meal – now that’s service!
Sated by my meal, I chose to end it with another favourite, the crème brule, which was served three in three flavours, vanilla, chocolate and pistachio. A late harvest Chardonnay provided the right balance for my rich dessert. My partner had the chocolate cake which satisfied his sweet tooth admirably. We chose grappa for our digestif, which provided further warmth for our bellies. Wonderful European coffee (no one makes coffee like Europeans) ended a delightful night of food, drink and good conversation.
Reviewed by: Sandy Copping
Last reviewed: January 14th, 2006