Vaughan: Where to DINE in Woodbridge

AlFogolar Al Fogolar
We enter through Famee Furlane (Friulian family); the restaurant itself is old world; the food is the traditional regional food of Friuli. Hand hewn wood beams and cream coloured walls speak of a rustic country manor. Known for their fresh gnocchi, we sample this pillowy pasta made only moments earlier: light tomato with basil; pheasant; wild mushroom; and quattro formaggio each seduce my palate. Not to AlFogolar2 be outdone, risotto is kissed with a truffle essence and accompanied by tender sliced AAA New York strip and a rocket salad with grilled artichoke spears in balsamic drizzle. We are wowed by two plump crab cakes wrapped in prosciutto; thick meaty lamb chops rubbed with rosemary and drizzled in Merlot reduction; and the most generous portion of charcoal grilled veal paillard. A comfortable setting, the who’s who of Woodbridge dines here.

castello Castello Ristorante Antico
This family-run restaurant, one of the largest in Woodbridge, is multi-functional, and reflects the cuisine and style of Carnello (near Rome). Better than a home-cooked meal, dining here is about the quality and the flavour more than any fancy presentation. The menu reads, “there is no love more sincere than the love of food.” Homemade pasta in castello2 tomato basil sauce, and rigatoni with porcini mushrooms, prociutto and tomato sauce, are simple delicious plates of pasta. “Did you enjoy your pasta?” we’re asked. We nod an obvious “yes” in appreciation. Panko crusted truffle infused risotto balls with tomato and fresh herbs are a decadent mouthful, while the the veal chop, marinated in Amarone and drizzled in rosemary sauce, is hearty and flavourful succulence. A plate of crisp fennel is offered to cleanse the palate. Its the pure ingredients and the love in their preparation that makes all the difference here.

dimmi Dimmi Bar & Trattoria
Prime real estate in Yorkville for years, the duo of Raymond Commisso and Leslie Chan have broadened their horizons, and our options, by opening in the most coveted spot of Market Lane in Woodbridge. The same menu of fresh al dente pasta like angel hair spagheti al pomodoro and basilico, and tagliollini with black tiger shrimps, arugula, and dimmi2 cherry tomatoes, is irresistible. Charbroiled or cornmeal encrusted calamari; humoungous calzone; lightly breaded lamb chops stuffed with prosciutto, spinach and mozzarella–we’ve enjoyed them all again and again. The pasta sauce is rich and tangy, and pasta is also served whole wheat or gluten free. A relaxed patio with refreshing cocktails and a sociable vibe; it’s easy to linger here well into the evening.

Nove2 Nove Ristorante
Nove means “nine”, but with a grill like no other, dining here is a clear “ten”. From the moment we open the doors we are welcomed by the aromas of the charcoal grill and wood-fired oven. Cornish hen, tender and crisp, is the star of a platter of grilled meats from NY strip steak to Ontario lamb. Chef Rick Antonucci makes his rounds to ensure his guests are content. Nove We are. Risotto with field mushrooms and reggiano cheese, simmered in white wine and mushroom stock, is a luscious mouthful of flavour. The pizzas are chock full of a garden of ingredients, and we devour the crunchy thin crust. Fresh linguini simmered in a white wine tomato broth ribbons around a medley of king crab, shrimp, calamari, mussels and clams. We arrive early, knowing tables fill up, for the love of good food.

OcaNera Oca Nera
If we didn’t know it was there, we’d never know… Located behind a gas station on Islington we find one of the more inventive Italian chefs, Corrado Giliberto, whose virtuosity enables classic Italian cuisine with a twist. Forget about filling up on gas; we prefer wild boar gnocchi, espresso lamb chops and brick-pressed free-range chicken. A signature dish and must-try, is crisp spaghetti-wrapped OcaNera3 shrimp with a strega cream emulsion–a delightful confluence of cultures, textures and flavours. While the menu changes, one staple is the house rotating selection of Rodney’s oysters. Branzino, served crisp, is crowned by crunchy lotus root and yuca chips, and sits atop a chowder of seafood and pork belly. Every nuance of this dish sings. For dessert, a light mascarpone-filled chocolate ravioli. Amore!

Vinsanto2 Vinsanto Ristorante
Chandeliers sparkle, a jazz musician alternates between instruments, and an extensive wine menu and eclectic dinner menu dazzle us. As waiters with humoungous salads pass by, we are excited by our arugula salad with baked crisp oyster mushrooms and parmigiano cheese. Pasta, like gamelli with a fondue of four cheeses, pork belly, and a parmesan crisp; or pink Vinsanto3 beet-linguini with Nova Scotia Lobster, fennel, cherry tomatoes and a lobster veloute, are rich and sumptuous. We’ve never had it so good. A decorative platter of branzino and gigantic shrimp with a colourful array of vegetables is so generous we are in disbelief. A sweet punctuation to our evening is a velvety, chocolate-encrusted cheesecake infused with raspberry coulis and white chocolate chunks. Warm and inviting, this is a celebration of taste. Salute.

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