Thursday, October 18, 2012

Fresco Bistro Italiano, Pure Gelato


VN and I visited Fresco Bistro Italiano for a late birthday dinner. We originally wanted to try out Union 613, but no dice, they were booked until 9:30pm. Lame. We walked down to Fresco Bistro Italiano, which was practically beside Pure Gelato.

We walked into the dimly lit restaurant and were promptly seated in front of the bar. The main reason I wanted to try out this place was because Lucy raved about their amazlingly fluffy gnocchi (not pronounced ga-knock-e). I’ve never had legit gnocchi, so I thought I’d give it a try.

VN got the chicken diavolo, while I ordered the gnocchi with a pesto olive oil instead of the cream sauce. I was very tempted to order the braised lamb shank, but I wanted to try their gnocchi. I’ll have to go back and try the braised lamb.

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There was a slight smoky aroma coming off of the mountain of gnocchi. It was probably from the pancetta and seared chicken. I was not expecting such a large portion of gnocchi. Let me explain my thoughts, as I tucked in:

First bite – 3rd bite:
Umm… okay… that’s hot! Hmm… Why does this feel like soggy bread wrapped around a soft potato nugget? Is this what gnocchi is supposed to taste like?

4th – 9th bite (approximate):
The gnocchi are quite light and fluffy – oh, what’s this smoky taste? Mushrooms? The mushroom tastes great! Holy crap – I’m actually enjoying mushrooms in a dish! Smoky pancetta? Yum. Pieces of seared chicken? Womp womp womp womp wowowowowomp…

10th – 14th bite (approximate):
Why is the outside of the gnocchi so mushy? Er… must keep going… Another piece of mushroom… bleh. Suck it up Christine! Stop being a baby. They’re just mushrooms. 
Why is everything so soft in this dish? Why is there so much oil?

15th – 17th bite (approximate):
Must keep eating... Why is there still so much left?

18th bite (approximate):
I’m done. Can’t eat any more.

I tried to enjoy the gnocchi. It’s just not my thing. Maybe I’ll try to make it from scratch and see if it tastes any better. At first, I enjoyed the mushrooms, but then half-way through, it lost it’s appeal. There wasn’t much textural contrast in the dish other than the few pancetta bits. That was the main reason I got tired of the dish so quickly. I doubt I’ll order this again.

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VN’s plate of chicken diavolo looked great! Let’s start at the bottom of the plate: I think the sauce was just pan drippings (delicious pan drippings, I might add), roasted fingerling potatoes, vegetables, roasted chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, and a little grated Romano cheese. I was very impressed with the moist chicken. I mean, I rarely go out to restaurants like these, but the chicken was spot on. VN quite liked the sauce. It was a well thought out dish. There were textural contrasts (crisp veggies vs soft chicken), flavour contrasts (tasty sauce vs lightly-seasoned chicken, sun-dried tomatoes vs chicken). One great thing about the chicken diavolo dish was that were wasn’t a lot of carbs, so VN didn’t feel weighed down like somebody else.

We talked about their desserts for quite a bit, but decided to go next door for some gelato instead.

It was my first time at Pure Gelato. Everyone was talking about Pure Gelato during the summer, and why not? We had a summer that felt similar to Taipei’s hot and humid weather.

We both settled on a small cup of gelato. The small cup gets you three scoops of whatever gelato you choose. While mulling over all the choices in the brightly-lit place, we joked that we should just buy a litre of gelato instead. Next time… maybe next time.

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I went with pistachio, lemoncello, and strawberry shortcake, which the lady recommended. The refreshing lemoncello hit the spot. It helped cut through the heavy dinner I had. The creamy pistachio was alright. The strawberry shortcake was quite sour, which I liked, but it didn’t really taste like strawberry shortcake to me.

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VN went with a scoop each of lemoncello, coconut, and watermelon gelato. The coconut gelato was surprisingly rich. It had shreds of coconut too. I didn’t get to taste the watermelon gelato, because I was too busy trying to eat all of the strawberry shortcake first. Save the best for last...

In the middle of our conversation, VN suggested that we could probably catch Argo at the Empire Theatre in World Exchange Plaza. We weren’t far. We booked it for the theatre. But once we got there, there was a long line up at the ticket booth and box office. I remembered that there was another ticket booth. We got the tickets, walked through the doors (where they usually check your tickets), flashed the movie tickets at the imaginary usher, and walked into the packed theatre.

The movie was… how should I say this?




Argofuckyourself.


~ * ~
Addresses:
Fresco Bistro Italiano
354 Elgin St.
Ottawa, ON
613-235-7541
Fresco Bistro Italiano on Urbanspoon

Pure Gelato
350 Elgin St.
Ottawa, ON
613-237-3799
Pure Gelato on Urbanspoon

Empire Theatre 7
111 Albert St.
Ottawa, ON
613-688-0198

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