For many a diner, it can be hard to find a restaurant with that elusive blend of good food, a lively, laid-back atmosphere, and owners who truly care about the restaurant they run. Fresco Bistro Italiano ticks all three boxes. The menu is Italian-inspired and features mains like duck confit and braised lamb shank, as well as flavourful pasta dishes, salads, pizzas, and more. The decor has the modern/rustic balance down pat, with old photos of Ottawa landmarks hung on the exposed brick walls. After hours, head upstairs to the Guest Room for tapas, drinks, and music.
354 Elgin St., 613-235-7541, www.frescobistro.ca.