Wednesday, April 15, 2015

7 Enoteca

If you're ever looking for exceptional Italian food, try venturing outside the downtown core to Oakville's 7 Enoteca (Twitter: @7Risto, Facebook: 7 Risto). Yes, I said Oakville! I know it's a bit out of the way for some of you urban dwellers living in downtown Toronto but if you own a car and don't mind driving a bit further for good food, then I highly suggest you check out 7 Enoteca (and if you're already in the Mississauga / Hamilton / Oakville then you have no excuse).

Serving authentic and inspired dishes from Italy, this upscale pizzeria in Oakville's Town Square strives to bring to their diners the authentic Italian dining experience. With many of their products flown in from Italy - from the wheat flour for their Neapolitan pizzas and cheeses, to truffles and wines - 7 Enoteca is fully dedicated in having the most authentic Italian ingredients and flavours on their menu. Having said that, the restaurant still sources fresh seasonal ingredients from local vendors whenever possible.

7 Enoteca reminds me of the restaurants in the King West neighbourhood; the crowd is bustling and lively, and the decor is modern with a touch of rustic. Those uber cool Edison light fixtures immediately caught my eye when I walked in. I want one in my house.

Notice the cowhide-lined marble bar. And FYI, those bar stools are upholstered in Lamborghini leather.

This is my first time seeing arched ceilings at a restaurant. So pretty.

Patrons can dine at the pizza counter and see the pies made right in front of their eyes. The wood-burning oven, actually the bricks themselves, were flown in from Naples then built on-site at the restaurant.

My table for the evening was right in front of this wine wall. Most, if not all, of 7 Enoteca's wines are exclusive labels from various regions in Italy that you can't find at your local LCBO. Their wine list includes award-winning Italian wines from top producers to limited production estate-bottled wines that would rarely otherwise make it into the country. 

My plan for the evening was to have chef Christian Fontolan and sous chef Edward Furlani of 7 Enoteca feed me whatever they wanted until my stomach surrenders. I know I sound like a broken record but having the chef decide for you is honestly the best way to dine out.

Prosciutto wrapped figs stuffed with lemon mascarpone, focaccia, coppa, grigio sardo cheese

Mixed winter greens, mixed carrots, herbs, blood orange dressing

Even though I'm not seated at the pizza counter I still had a pretty good view of all the pie-making action.

Not for show. Chefs and cooks came out of the kitchen throughout the night to use them.

Classic DOP tomato sauce, mozzarella di buffala, basil

Risotto, braised cocks comb, black truffle, sherry vinegar

Seared red snapper, aqua pazza, salt spring mussels, pan roasted vegetables

Date mostarda, sautéed cabbage, potato and butternut squash pave with 8 year old American cheddar

Poached lobster, dehydrated and apple wood smoked cherry tomatoes, bisque, fresh chervil

Poached pears, roasted pistachios

Vin santo crema

What a treat! A huge thanks to chef Fontolan and sous chef Furliani for spoiling me with such exquisite food at 7 Enoteca. I seriously couldn't have asked for more. First of all, I have to say I'm incredibly thrilled that I no longer have to trek downtown every time I'm craving authentic Neapolitan pizza. My goodness...that Margherita pizza with its crispy, pillow-y crust and characteristic charring and blistering was absolutely divine. Finished with big creamy dollops of buffalo mozzarella flown in every other week from Italy, I was one very happy girl. The dishes that followed were as equally top-notch, starting with Fontolan's parmigiano risotto with braised cock's comb. This was my first time having cock's comb and I'm certainly hoping it's not the last. Braised for three hours with a light veal stock, the cock's combs turned out soft, fleshy and a bit gummy (but in a good way). Although the cock's combs themselves didn't offer much flavour they added a different texture element to the creamy risotto. Finished with a splash of sherry vinegar and shaved black truffles, this risotto dish was definitely the highlight of the evening. Speaking of highlights and first-times, that night was also my first time having aged pork. Nagano pork, a product of Yamachiche, Quebec, is known for its marbling and its exceptionally juicy, tender and flavourful meat. At 7 Enoteca, the Nagano pork was aged for 45 days, sous vide with herbs then finished in the pan. The pork was served with a side of date mostarda consisting of dried dates, green apples, whole grain mustard and a bit of vinegar, as well as a potato and butternut squash pave. The date mostarda was nice and much needed between bites of that rich pork. Perhaps due to the 45-day aging process, I found the flavour of the Nagano pork to closely resemble that of a gamey lamb. Interesting, right? It's certainly a good thing though because I love lamb. The red snapper with acquapazza (or "crazy water" in Italian") was exquisite. I fell in love with the fish broth after the first sip; it was light yet so fragrant, and I could really pick up the saffron from it. Ending off our savoury dishes was the poached lobster squid ink taglioni. Even though I was close to tapping out I insisted on having it...and thank goodness I did (the chefs were surprised I still had room!) Huge chunks of poached lobster meat served with thick noodles in a light bisque, I cleared the plate. Let me tell you, it's rare that I finish all the pasta on any given plate, especially this being the last course, but I couldn't help it! It was too good! Dinner ended on a very high note with the desserts. I never order panna cottas on my own because I don't enjoy them; I usually find them flavourless and overly rich, thick or gelatinous (like jello). But this one at 7 Enoteca was softly set and smooth. Paired with poached pears, the end result was a melt-in-your-mouth, light and refreshing dessert. See why it's good to have the chef feed you? If not for this experience I would've ruled out panna cottas forever! The second dessert and the final course of the evening was chef Furliani's warm Castengolo fried dough. The mascarpone and orange zest in the dough mix made these doughnuts extra fluffy. Served with Vin santo crema (bascially Vin santo wine reduced to a light syrup then folded into a vanilla cremè anglaise) one can get easily hooked on these bad boys. Dangerously good. The two plates that I wasn't overly impressed with were actually the first two. I love figs but I wasn't fond of the warm prosciutto wrapped around it (key word being "warm" since they were roasted). I thought the winter salad was bland and needed more dressing. All in all a marvelous meal! 

I'm extremely glad to have discovered 7 Enoteca in Oakville and I'm looking forward to my next visit. Spring is here and I'm sure the talented chefs there already have an exciting new menu in place (this dinner was back in February). One thing I should mention before I go is that 7 Enoteca does not take reservations so be prepared to wait for a table, especially on the weekends.

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