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Hot Dining: Best New Restaurants 2011: Brooklynn’s Bistro

With Italian restaurants seemingly on every corner in Winnipeg, it can be hard to separate prime pasta from ‘past their prime.’

Brooklynn’s Bistro is firmly entrenched in the former category.

For starters, owner Sam Colosimo hired Chef Darryl Crumb, a charismatic rising star to command the kitchen. Earlier this year, Crumb wowed judges and viewers on Top Chef Canada with his classic French cooking.

Calabrian chili mussels, hand-rolled gnocchi and parmesan-crusted lamb are all executed with ace technical skill.

The kitchen also boasts another, less flashy but no less talented star: a bona fide Italian Nonna, aka Sam’s mother, who cook up batches of meatballs and other traditional cucina bites for the masses.

Pizza, the star of any Italian menu, is baked with the smoky authenticity of a Naples pizzeria inside a massive, wood-burning oven, the show horse inside this Exchange District restaurant.

All that, and Brooklynn’s succinct, sophisticated and carefully curated modern Italian menu makes it one of our choice destinations of the year.

With high-ceilings, dramatic chandeliers and an open floor plan, the restaurant buzzes like a New York City eatery. Servers are attentive and knowledgeable.

To begin, settle into a beet salad. Spicy arugula and the smooth tang of goat cheese balance the natural sweetness of the local root vegetable.

Juicy wild mushrooms and truffle oil lend a strong, earthy flavour to a golden risotto. The creamy rice is the foundation for this Manitoba-flavoured meal, which includes roasted pickerel fillets and fried leek slivers served  in a gravity-defying tower.

Forbidden Pasta is a tangle of house-made, black squid pasta. Capers, minced tomatoes and a punch of chilli pepper liven up squid ringlets and tame the tang of natural brine.

The roasted veal  chop is exceedingly tender and easily satisfies a meat craving.

Finish with a generous dollop of ultra-rich zabaglione, a traditional Italian custard made with eggs, sugar and sweet wine and whipped into luscious submission.

Brooklynn’s is open Mon-Fri 11:30 am-2 pm; Tue-Thu 5 pm-9 pm; Fri & Sat 5 pm-10 pm.

Exchange District

177 Lombard Ave

204- 415-4112

Entrées $16-$30

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