Sherman's Food Adventures: Italian Kitchen

Italian Kitchen

It's been awhile since I last visited Italian Kitchen.  I remember that the meal was actually pretty good, but that was 9 years ago.  Much has changed since then including more restaurants added to the Glowbal Group and a change in location. They aren't located on Alberni anymore as rent on that street has skyrocketed.   Hence, they moved into the old Don Francesco's spot across from the Sutton Place Hotel on Burrard.   Recently, I was given the opportunity to do a tasting at the new location with Tina.

We were treated to 2 appies to start including the Bruschetta alla Toscana with cannellini beans, cauliflower and spiced walnuts atop garlic crosta.  Beautifully plated, the crostini was light, crunchy throughout and aromatic from the garlic.  The mixture on top was creamy with intermittent firm beans throughout as well as the crunch from the walnuts.  It was seasoned ever-so-lightly, hence we could taste the beans and cauliflower individually.  A touch more salt and/or acidity would've put this dish over the top.  Uniquely arranged, the Vitello Tonnato featured tuna mayo on the bottom rather than the top.  The roasted veal was lean and tender while the sauce was mild with the natural taste of ahi tuna at the forefront.  We found that each bite needed the capers and castelvetrano olives for a salty impact.

Onto the pasta course, we were presented with both the Torchio alle Verdure and Fennel Pollen Casoncelli.  Being a vegetarian pasta, the torchio with roasted squash, sunchokes, kale and bell pepper succo blew me away.  I didn't have much expectation for this, but layers of flavour were developed that created plenty of umaminess.  There was an earthiness accented by enough natural sweetness from the veggies and savouriness from the spot-on seasoning.  Moreover, the pasta was just right being al dente with a firm chewiness.  Now this was good, but the casoncelli was even better.  The thin pasta was tender with a bite and the fennel pollen added a mild sweetness as well as a faint anise finish.  It was filled and topped with plenty of duck confit for full-impact.  Finished with roasted duck stock and a bit of foie, there was a luxurious silkiness that was "ducky" and full-bodied.

Moving along, we were served Salt Crusted Bass for 2 with peperonata, leeks, lemon and caponata. This was roasted for half-an-hour in the salt crust which helped keep the moisture and natural flavours locked in.  That it did as the fish was moist and flaky while not being over-seasoned (salty skin was removed).  The squeeze of charred lemon brightened up the fish and added the necessary acidity.  Our red meat dish of the meal was the 7 oz Beef Tenderloin with ricotta & egg yolk ravioli, roasted vegetables and extra virgin olive oil.  The filet was perfectly medium-rare and properly rested.  Therefore, the meat was super tender and moist.  It was well-seasoned so it tasted great on its own.  On top the ravioli featured chewy al dente pasta while the egg yolk was no longer runny since we were too busy taking pictures.

For dessert, we had their signature Zeppole with vanilla creme anglaise.  This was good sporting airy and soft doughnuts with a crispy exterior.  It was dusted with powdered sugar and filled with chocolate ganache, yet wasn't overly sweet.  Our favourite dessert was the Lemon Crostata with a tangy fresh lemon cream filling that was accented well by an equally tangy and sweet raspberry sauce.  The flaky pie shell was appealingly firm and crispy.  This including the rest of the meal was surprisingly quite good.  Glowbal restaurants often get a bad rap (including from myself), but I was pretty happy with the dishes we tried.  I was especially impressed with the pasta as the textures were spot on.

*All food and beverages were complimentary*

The Good:
- Well-executed proteins
- Texturally on point pasta
- Comfortable dining space

The Bad:
- On the pricier side, but it located in a prime space
- Some items could've used more salt


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