I’ve eaten out at a lot of restaurants in my soon-to-be 25 years. And when it comes to judging restaurants, this is what I’ve realized: it’s the added touches that can totally sway my opinion on a restaurant.
This is what happened with Del Dente. JZ and I made reservations there for our 6 month anniversary, and based on the website it looked like a moderately upscale but not too frilly Italian restaurant. My impression slightly changed when I walked inside – it had more casual decor than I expected and was filled with families and kids. My first thought was “Oh no, I’ve walked into East Side Mario’s”. But my perception was once again changed by the food.
To start they brought us out bread. But not just any bread. This bread was freshly baked in house and served warm with two types of butters: herb and apple cinnamon. I expected a mediocre pre-baked and reheated bread, so this really impressed me.
For my appetizer I had the Villagio salad with mixed greens, olives, cucumber, grape tomatoes, pickled fennel, balsamic port vinaigrette, and Woolwich goat cheese. I liked that this wasn’t just your average Mediterranean salad – the pickled fennel made it really unique and added a great bite to the dish. Also the use of local ingredients was nice to see!
After much deliberation (as usual), I decided on the pizza with San Marzano tomato sauce, local prosciutto, Ontario fior de latte, and lemon truffle arugula – an ordinary pizza made extraordinary by the thick, flavourful prosciutto and soft local cheese. It was so good that I was full after half, but ended up eating all but once piece!
JZ had the chicken parmigiana on top of in-house handmade pasta. Even upscale Italian restaurants I’ve visited don’t make their pasta in house, so this gives Del Dente major points in my eyes.
We were in the middle of deciding whether dessert would be worth the food coma, when our server brought us out a complimentary dessert to celebrate our anniversary. It was such a nice added touch! Unfortunately the dessert was covered in hazelnuts, so the table beside us got the dessert and we got to select another option. While we don’t always like the same entrees, JZ and I definitely see eye to eye when it comes to desserts: we both immediately pinpointed the house made ricotta cheesecake with orange and lemon marmalade and salted caramel brittle. I loved this twist on cheesecake – the ricotta added such a nice texture and richness.
The overarching theme of our dinner here was all the added touches – the homemade dishes and ingredients, the unexpected flavours, the local ingredients, and the complimentary dessert – all of which transform this restaurant into a place worth writing about!
Do you find that the added touches can change your experience at a restaurant?