Sometimes it is easy for us to forget about the restaurants that have seemingly been around forever. With the latest and greatest hogging all the social media buzz, I tend to get restaurant ADD. My head is literally on a swivel getting dizzy with the opening of new spots every week. That is partly why it has taken me so long to actually do a post on Cafe Il Nido on Robson (also the fact it is completely hidden too). It actually took an invite from Tangoo promoting their #FirstDateFever rewards where one gets a little something something just by flashing the Tangoo app on their mobile device.
We got all of our appies at once and after I took my photos (thank goodness everyone was patient with me!), I dug into the Polpettine bathed in tomato sauce and topped with grated pecorino cheese. These were meaty and lean with enough moisture from being considered dry. They were mildly seasoned, however, the tangy tomato sauce provided all the flavour the dish needed. Next, I tried the Calamari sauteéd with jalapeno, Napoletana tomato sauce and topped with EVOO. The squid rings were appealingly chewy while still tender to the teeth. There was a definite spicy aftertaste from the jalapeno which really helped liven the zesty tomato sauce.
Onto the 24 month aged Prosciutto with cantaloupe melon, we were treated to some buttery smooth meat. Yes, it was still chewy, but in a pleasing manner. The meat was mildly salty exhibiting a definite richness. The ripe melon added the necessary sweetness to balance out the taste. Continuing on the flavour train, we had the Funghi sauteéd with garlic, scallions, thyme, jalapeno and lemon. These were buttery and tender with the expected woodsiness. Again, they were not shy with the seasoning as there was definitely enough salt which was complimented by the garlic and spiciness of the jalapeno. The extra jolt of acidity from the lemon really helped keep things even.
Our one lighter option was the Caprese Salad with vine-ripened red and yellow tomatoes, fior di latte, extra virgin olive oil, basil and arugula. This featured fresh and bright tomatoes that were sandwiched in between large slices of soft fior di latte. There was a very conservative amount of dressing which allowed for the ingredients to speak for themselves. On the other hand, I personally would've preferred more impact.
Moving onto the mains, I sampled the Risotto with asparagus, zucchini, Italian sausage and grated Parmesan cheese first. Despite being slightly overdone, the rice still retained some chewiness. There was definitely enough cheesiness to go around, yet the risotto was rather thick in consistency. I enjoyed the meaty and spiciness of the sausage as well as the vibrant and not-overcooked veggies. Onto the Pesto Penne with green beans and potatoes, it occurred to me that I really enjoyed the little nuggets of potato. They were soft, yet intact, where they soaked up all the aromatic pesto. As for the penne, it was still toothsome while the green beans were still crunchy.
An interesting dish was the homemade gluten free potato Gnocchi with tomato sauce and ricotta salata. Whenever I see gluten-free on the menu, my immediate reaction is "oh no". But this was decent with a soft, albeit somewhat crumbly, texture. The accompanying tomato sauce was fresh and tangy while smoothed out with the ricotta. Moving onto some actual mains, we had the Capone di Mare or red snapper pan seared and baked, served with salsa verde. Appearance-wise, the fish was nicely browned on the top and in fact crispy. However, the fish was overcooked. Flavours were nice though with a brightness accented by a touch of acidty.
Lastly, we shared the Vitello or veal breaded scaloppine served with Marsala mushroom sauce. Although the breading was a touch thick, the veal itself was firmly tender and well-seasoned. The mushroom sauce was creamy and Earthy with enough marsala to give it some body. So the food was only one component of the meal because we were discussing how Tangoo could be a great way to find the ideal spot for a first date (or subsequent dates) where one could choose based on many factors (such as mood, class of restaurant and/or a good place for an ice-breaker). Makes me wish I was single again... Uh... Viv you didn't just read that.
*All food excluding beverages were complimentary*
- Cute little spot with a garden hidden right on Robson
- Decent eats
- Decent but can be even better
- Pricey but it is Robson