781 Denman St.



Open for Lunch & Dinner: Monday, 5 p.m. to late
to Saturday; noon to late


Signature Drink: Bellini
Signature Dish:

Rating: ****1/2
& drinks for two:

menu’s Italian, but the room could be right out of a bistro in the Latin
Quarter. Tiles, mirrored walls, and bright red bar stools emphasize the comfort
factor. The menu is beyond simple. A few pastas, pizzas and mains, some good
antipasti, and a couple of desserts is about as complicated as it gets. A fresh
sheet offers a few extra choices, but simplicity seems to be du rigueur—no
surprise when you realize the owners come of good Tapastree lineage.

started with the buffalo mozzarella salad ($10) off the fresh sheet. Yes, it
was real buffalo mozzarella, from Vancouver Island’s Fairburn Farm, drizzled in
an olive oil so pure, I could practically smell the leaves. Chicken liver
crostini ($6) were enormous, fresh and surprisingly moist. Crisped onions on
top was just a bonus. Gnocchi with aromatic mini meatballs ($15) were delicate,
fluffed-up pillows that almost dissolved on the tongue.

We made the mistake of ordering
another main, the ricotta pizza ($14). Mistake, because we were already full,
so we could only work our way through a couple of slices before giving up and
getting it wrapped up to go. A paper-thin crust under black olives and roasted
garlic was crisp and chewy, albeit a tiny bit overcooked around the edges. No
room for dessert this time around, but we’ll be back soon.

Cabernet Sauvignon

This mountainous region of
Argentina is better known for its Malbec production, but a growing interest in
Cabernet Sauvignon has yielded some interesting results, like the 2007 Pascual
Toso. The high altitude and stony soil makes for an interesting palate of
blackberry, dark chocolate and toast. Concentrated tannins require a little
breathing space. Match with roasted meat or strong cheese, or both. BCLS

Top Shelf

of Victoria

for a road trip? Taste of Victoria’s first annual Festival of Food and Wine
kicks off on July 16 at the Victoria Conference Centre’s Crystal Garden. Sip more than 150 different B.C. wines, and indulge in nibbles from the island’s top chefs. Visit for more info.

Dining Out

Lab Restaurant
(550 Denman St) is now offering a three-course pre-theatre menu
daily between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. for $29. Choose from sockeye salmon, Guinness
cheddar prime rib burger, crème caramel and more. Call 604-568-4606.

Street Grill
(1009 Hamilton St) will be hosting a $25 wine tasting of the
organic and biodynamic wines from Emiliana Orgánico on July 13 and 14 at 5:30
p.m. Includes three wines and three food tasters. Call 604-331-1511.

Food in Brief

has officially opened in its new digs at 1054 Alberni Street, along
with the brand new O Lounge.

The old Wingnuts location at 4444 Main Street
will soon be home to more upscale comfort food. Chaise Lounge is scheduled to
open in the next two weeks.

Latest From ...