Neighbourhood: South Osborne
Address: 684 Osborne Street
Entree: $14 – $23
Through the door of Monticchio Ristorante Italiano, diners find walls adorned with eye-catching artistry, exposed brick wainscotting skirting a lower-level dining area, and a two-tiered setup under a lofty ceiling that includes an intimate dining room and a visually appealing lounge. But Chef Michele Di Fonte’s menu, with its focus on traditional Italian dishes, subverts the expectation set by the white-tablecloth space.
A basket of pillowy pane fritto makes for an ideal entrance to an eating experience sure to require eventual belt-loosening. A gently bronzed exterior and a dusting of sugar imparts a subtle dessert-before-dinner feel. One bite into these clouds of dough reveals a steamy and soft interior begging to be dipped into a delicately sweet house marinara. Select from one of three soups, including a vegetable-laden minestrone in house tomato broth. It’s a warm, soul-soothing starter.
Though shareable plates set the tone with the classic comfort one expects, one of the undoubted main attractions include piled-high pastas.
Fettuccine carbonara straddles the line between upscale elegance and old-world charm. Smoky, crumbled bacon rests upon ribbons of al dente fettuccine in a creamy sauce with hints of parmesan. Dashes of pepper and nutmeg enrich the dish. Mozzarella and a fresh tomato basil sauce sing overtop fluffy gnocchi that seemingly melt away.
This is a beloved spot for veal, as five preparations are present, including dishes featuring cream, wine and red sauces. Chicken is also a favourite, and chicken portafoglio is a standout. A deep brown breaded crust conceals tender and juicy chicken breast, though its stuffing of provolone, capicollo, sun-dried tomatoes and basil is what truly enhances the dish with sweet, smoky and sharp profiles. Rich rosé sauce has a lusciousness that acts in harmony with every flavour.
With whatever room remains reserved for dessert, it’s impossible to miss with a take on tiramisu–vanilla cake stands in place of ladyfingers–somehow light enough to keep from bursting buttons.
Monticchio is open Sun-Thu 4:30 pm-9 pm and Fri-Sat 4:30 pm-10:30 pm.