By GWENDOLYN RICHARDS
NEW: Cotto Italian Comfort Food
At Cotto, chef and co-owner Giussepe Di Gennaro returns to his passion for simple, timeless Italian dishes. The menu is peppered with traditional favourites, such as a spaghetti carbonara, a pappardelle ragu, bruschetta, panini, and Gennaro’s trademark arancini.
Heritage Beef Carpaccio at Raw Bar
Traditional beef carpaccio takes paper-thin slices of tender meat, tops it with some peppery arugula, nutty Parmesan and lemon or a dressing thickened with egg yolk and spiked with vinegar. But at Raw Bar in Hotel Arts, this dish gets a modern Asian makeover, keeping only the base of beef the same. Arugula is swapped out in favour of Thai basil and heat from chilies, while the dressing is replaced with a citrusy nuoc cham; spicy peanuts offer a bit of crunch. The bright and bold flavours are the perfect counterpoint to the rich beef. In the summer months, enjoy it in the sunshine out on the patio next to the Hotel Arts pool, slipping into the water to cool off between bites.
• 119 – 12 Ave SW, www.rawbaryyc.ca
The menu is well curated and peppered with traditional favourites, such as a spaghetti carbonara, a pappardelle ragu, bruschetta, panini and Gennaro’s trademark arancini. Even within the realm of classics, the dishes show signature creativity. The carbonara comes topped with a meaty portion of pork belly, while the caprese features soft, roasted red peppers instead of the standard tomato, beneath a silky ball of mozzarella and crispy slices of salami for crunch. The Milanese pork chop is well seasoned, breaded and fried to golden and matches perfectly with the healthy-sized side salad studded with pickled cipolline onions and roasted cherry tomatoes.
The space has a rustic feel with barn wood walls brightened with white paint, white marble-topped and dark wood tables and a bar running along one wall. Between the welcoming space, the warm, attentive service and tempting menu, it’s easy to settle in for a comforting meal.
• 314 – 10 St NW, www.cottoyyc.com
TRIED AND TRUE: Las Canarias
A small slice of the Canary Islands is now nestled onto 17th Avenue SW as Las Canarias has made the move from the northwest corner of the city, bringing its Spanish ingredients—like the iberico and serrano hams, cheese and chorizo—and true tapas menu to the inner city. Nibble on papas bravas, marinated olives or an assortment of montaditos—slices of bread topped with smoked oysters, chorizo, white anchovies or omelet – while awaiting a sizzling hot pan of paella made from Valencia rice and speckled with various combinations of seafood, chicken, beef and chorizo. (Dig down to scrape up the deliciously crispy edges and bottom of the dish.)
Enjoy it all with some sangria or any of their selection of Spanish wines and pretend for a moment you’ve escaped to the Mediterranean.
• 1129 – 17 Ave SW, www.lascanarias.ca