Neighbourhood: Osborne Village
Address: 684 Osborne St
For those without Italian grandmothers to nourish souls and stomachs, there’s Monticchio Ristorante Italiano. For more than 30 years, this south Osborne mainstay has been serving up Nonna-approved dishes worthy of old-country kitchens.
For the last decade, it has done so in an elegant setting that blends new world sophistication with classic recipes in the style of south Italy. Contemporary stone accents and scenes of the homeland adorn the neutral walls. Red checked tablecloths, it seems, are not required to vanquish cravings for pasta, pizza and veal in cream sauce.
Warm garlic knots appear on the table almost immediately, giving diners something to chew on while perusing the extensive list of appies. Eggplant involtini are a hit, stuffed with ricotta, mozzarella and Romano then baked in a marinara sauce.
The benchmark of any great Italian joint is, of course, spaghetti and meatballs, and Monticchio does it right. Pasta, your choice, is cooked perfectly el dente and slathered with a meaty, sweet and spicy sauce. The meatballs alone spark return visit dreams—large and lightly-textured, each bite a comfort.
Proving the art of veal is not lost to time, the menu offers no less than five such entrees. Veal Dolce Vita takes top honours. Medallions of the tender meat are bathed in a light and lemony cream sauce, dotted generously with fresh sage.
Other options show the kitchen’s prowess past red sauce. Fusilli alla pistachio is draped in nutty sauce, lifted by plenty of lemon, and tossed with chicken, sundried tomatoes and goat cheese. Penne vodka proves that simple can be sublime. A rose sauce is spiked with liquor and a kick of heat. Fettuccine Portofino nods to southern Italy’s bounty of seafood. A creamy blend of salmon, mushrooms and shrimp is infused with a hint of red pepper.
For those craving pizza, options abound. Those in the know sate hankerings with a meat-and-cheese-stuffed stromboli. At 14 inches long, it delivers the punch of capicollo, garlic, and Italian sausage.
For those who have room for sugar, a variation of tiramisu is first rate. Vanilla cake layered with whipped cream, espresso and chocolate replace the traditional espresso soaked lady fingers and the rendition is sensational.