De Luca’s Specialty Foods, Cooking School & Restaurant - 1.85MB of Digital Deliciousness, served up by this master chef

1.85MB of Digital Deliciousness, served up by this master chef

By: PegCity GrubOctober 11, 2012 // Italian


Watch your pasta being made by hand on De Luca's mezzanine restaurant, open Monday through Saturday. A chef lays out lasagna noodles which will be used in a vegetarian version of the classic Italian dish.

De Luca's Specialty Foods, Cooking School & Restaurant
Address: 950 Portage Avenue
Phone Number: 204-774-7617
Neighbourhood: Wolseley

My mom and I had the pleasure of meeting up with a room full of food-loving strangers and learned to cook De Luca's style.

Inside the basement kitchen cum dining room cum classroom, a small team of cooks, a dishwasher and a couple of servers opened my world to the simple delight of freshly formed, lightly cooked, al dente gnocchi with dried porcini mushrooms, oodles of crushed garlic, whipped cream, vodka and parmesan reggiano.

Over five courses, we drank wine and watched while chefs chopped, tossed, crushed, puréed, sautéed, sauced and plated their dishes.

We gobbled every course up from the chicken and spinach salad to the pork tenderloin with balsamic to the potatoes with rosemary, Parmesan and caciocavallo.

It wasn't Italy but it sure felt like a Roman holiday.

The Italian market, bakery, cheese, butcher and wine shop, and cooking studio still draws droves of food lovers and friends today. (For my part, I still have the recipes from that night stashed in my favourite recipes binder.)

The Winnipeg landmark, located in Wolseley on Portage Avenue still teaches authentic Italian cooking classes in its basement. (Insider's tip: Treat your food enthusiast to a class as a gift. Get fed, drink wine, learn the Italian way—all without washing a single dish. For a current list of cooking classes and space availability click here.

delucas_oliveoilUpstairs, De Luca's market is a epicurean's orgy of fresh pastas, pickled produce, cheeses from every first world country, an extensive butcher shop with house-made sausages and a wall of hundreds of olive oils—the elixir of every Italian meal.

The main market is divided into three areas—a grocery store, cheese and butcher shop, a produce section and a bakery. (There is also a neighbouring wine shoppe, which can be accessed from another entrance on Portage Avenue.)

If cooking isn't your thing, head upstairs to the mezzanine for a lunch of pasta, pizza or salad. Catering staff serve lunch Monday to Saturday from their wee, open-concept kitchen. The menu is small and includes a few varieties of (all-you-can-eat) pasta and by-the-slice pizza which change daily.

If nothing else, grab a slab of your favourite mozzarella, a warm crusty baguette and some sliced-to-order proscuitto and make your own, no-fuss but authentic Italian repast.

What Italian restaurant would you like me to review next? Drop a comment below, email or follow @pegcitygrub on twitter.