Monticchio's Ristorante Italiano: Easy to miss, hard to forget - Flavours of the ocean

Flavours of the ocean

By: PegCity GrubApril 6, 2013 // Italian

Lemon chicken Monticchio's
The aftermath of Lemon Chicken and Fettuccine at Monticchio's.

Monticchio's Ristoranté Italiano
Address: 684 Osborne Street South
Phone Number: 204-477-4773 or 204-477-4776
Website: none
Neighbourhood: South Osborne

There's a lot of food buzz in South Osborne thanks to the expanded Bistro 7 1/4 and the award-winning Deseo Bistro.

A few steps from both of those hotspots sits an Italian gem that pre-dates all the buzz on the street.

Monticchio's Ristorante Italiano has been in business for about 30 years. From the outside it's easy to miss this 90-or-so-seat restaurant and lounge.

Outside, the blue awnings are not only dated but barely legible. We actually walked right by it and had to retrace our steps to the front door. (Monticchio's also shares an entrance with a fitness and yoga studio on the second floor.)

As you walk inside, you'll wonder what kind of decorative time warp you're about to enter.

But no dated wall paper, distressed flooring or grungy corners await within. Instead, you'll find two modern, well-lit dining rooms adorned with pictures of life in Italy. One piece of decorating advice for Monticchio's: retire the fabric flowers from the tabletops.

The restaurant lounge is at the back of the house up a few short steps. In the summer, a large patio springs up on the backside of the restaurant facing the alley and parking lot.

A pleasant and cheery server made spot-on food recommendations. Both our seafood sambuca and lemon chicken with fettuccine were splendid. (More on that later.)

An overflowing basket of oven-fresh crusty bread knots were delivered warm to the table. We devoured most of the basket, pulling apart chunks of bread and slathering butter on each morsel.

House and garden salads also came with our meals. Both were generous, snap fresh and dressed with a tangy house vinaigrette. The house salad came with shredded mozzarella and slices of deli ham while the garden salad was loaded up with cucumbers, tomatoes, red peppers and sliced red onions.

Seafood Sambuca came on a bed of linguine loaded with mussels, shrimp and scallops. While the latter were the smallest scallops we've ever seen, the shrimp was among the plumpest we've ever tasted. The light licorice-flavoured sauce complemented the shellfish without overpowering them. It's a perfectly balanced meal for diners seeking more subtle flavours.

The Lemon Chicken, on the other hand, was a citrus rush. Vivid notes of lemon illuminated every bite from the pan-fried chicken breast cutlets to the quartered sautéed button mushrooms. Diners have a choice of sauce (either marinara or meat) to toss with the accompanying fettuccine. Insiders tip: Go with the lemon sauce for an extra couple of dollars.

Portions were generous. Prices were quite reasonable. Monticchio's delivers great value from start to finish—including dessert.

A $9.99 special includes a choice of desserts (Tiramisu anyone?), a shot of Sambuca or Galliano, and an espresso.

Reservations are recommended on weekends.

Seafood Sambuca and Lemon Chicken with fettuccine at Monticchio's.
Seafood Sambuca and Lemon Chicken with fettuccine at Monticchio's.

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