Neighbourhood: Fort Garry
Address: 2077 Pembina Hwy
For more than three decades, Nicolino’s has been heating up the south end of the city with its contemporary Italian fare that pays homage to owner Nick Zifarelli’s Italian heritage while incorporating locally-sourced ingredients.
The Fort Garry favourite eschews red-checkered tablecloths for something modern. Warm pendant lighting washes over the open dining room. Tables are spaced out, allowing for easy conversation between family and friends.
Appies deliver bold and rich flavours right from the get-go. Served atop a crispy slice of crostini, earthy Manitoba wild boar is nicely juxtaposed against the sharp notes of shaved Romano cheese.
Classic dishes with house-made everything are key to upholding rustic recipes. Sauces, dressings, bread and desserts are all made from scratch, but it is the pasta that’s the talk of the town—al denté fettuccine, delicate sheets of lasagna and pillowy gnocchi are but a few of the exquisite varieties made daily.
Dressing that fettuccine, a sauce of airy whipped Romano pops with wild mushrooms, plump prawns and vibrant peas. Lasagna Emiliana, true to its namesake, is made in the style of this Northern Italian region, with tangy béchamel a revelatory addition to layers of Bolognese and gooey cheese.
A pool of basil pesto is the basis for a simple yet elegant dish of melt-in-your-mouth gnocchi and tender salmon, crisped in brown sugar, a take on traditional Mediterranean seafood played out with a closer-to-home fillet.
Salads offset carb-loaded feasts with colourful greens—and more cheese. A feta salad balances the salty crumbled cheese with peppery arugula and olives. The Sorrento salad has been on the menu since the restaurant’s inception. This classic mix pairs salami and ham with sweet tomatoes, a sprinkle of mozzarella and a light oil and vinegar dressing.
Finish the evening Provencal-style with dessert and an espresso. Stick to the classics with a divine piece of tiramisu or a cannoli, or try the fluffy carrot cake topped with dollops of sweet mascarpone icing.
Traditional recipes and flavours delight at Nicolino’s, revealing that sometimes going back to one’s roots is the best way to move forward.
Nicolino’s is open Mon-Sat 11:30 am-close, and Sun 5 pm-close.