MONA LISA RISTORANTE ITALIANO
Neighbourhood: River Heights
Address: 1697 Corydon Avenue
Entrees: $14 – $38
As Winnipeg’s restaurant scene regains momentum and vibrancy, it is clear pandemic pivots and challenges are shaping strategies permanently. Shorter menus, keeping kitchens focused and streamlined, and fewer hours of operation are common across town.
At Mona Lisa Ristorante Italiano, a downsized dining room may be a function of necessity, but to our delight, the rustic, brick lined space, glowing under soft accent lighting, couldn’t be more cozy or hospitable for the lively laughter of friends, lovers and families filling it.
Not to be outdone by the lovely setting, Mona Lisa’s kitchen, now led by the family’s next generation, continues to deliver pleasing southern Italian favourites – traditional pizzas, pastas, chicken, veal, seafood – ensuring sauces, pastas, breads and desserts are made fresh in house every day.
Start with classic house made meatballs so tender, they barely need chewing. The perfectly seasoned beef blend waltzes with an herb infused tomato sauce in perfect step. This luscious dish tastes of familiarity for any fortunate enough to have or have had a Nonna in their life’s path.
Fettucine con manzo is equally impressive. Fresh noodles lathered in plum tomato sauce laden with slow braised beef are slurp-able and satisfying. The generous bowl garnished with thickly shaved parmigiano Reggiano is shareable, though we almost guarantee you’ll regret that.
In a savoury modern update on a classic salmone al piccata, a pan seared Atlantic caught filet is seared rare, revealing sweet tender flesh. The delicate bites of fish are brightened by sour lemon imbued butter sauce punctuated with briny capers. Garlic laced capellini, nestled beside in a tangle, finishes the dish like a flying circus performer doing back flips across the palate before the applause.
Desserts, the final tribute to signature family recipes, should not be missed. Tiramisu is among the best we have ever had. Each piece packs a wonderful espresso punch and is so light and airy it would most certainly be swept up with the slightest breeze.
Mona Lisa Ristorante Italiano is open Tues-Fri 4pm-11pm, Sat 4pm-11:30pm.