Monday, 29 April 2013

Oliveto Trattoria Edmonton, AB - big pastas, baby rack of lamb and amazing Bolognese sauce!

Reluctant birthday boy. He loves Italian food. Add in friends, a tasty Italian restaurant with great service and we have a recipe for a great birthday dinner! We had a list of good Italian restaurants and we narrows our choice down to Oliveto’s as some of our friends haven’t given it a whirl yet, as well as its tasty food and service in the last couple times we dropped by – previous reviews here and here. Anyways, onto a night of garlic, seafood, pasta and yum!


the DRINKS
They have a decent selection of wines, cocktails and a small selection of non-alcoholic bevies. Wish they would start carrying the fruit flavored San Pellegrino’s though! Anyways, I’m not sure who’s drink and what this cocktail was, but it was pretty!

I didn’t take pics of the beers, or wines, but here’s a mean moderately spicy Caesar. Would have liked some pickled asparagus, but the olives were good too. Mmm!

the APPYS
While we chatted, and mulled over the menu, we grazed... devoured and then asked for more of their warm crusty loaves of bread served with little pats of softened butter. A bit of flavored salt would have been nice to go with the butter, but the warm little loaves of bread was a warm welcome compared to the weather outside!

We were warned the appetizers were on the small side for sharing with a large party, so we ordered both types of mussels thinking there would be enough for a taste and still save room for entrees and dessert. First out was the sautéed artichoke hearts and prawns with olives, tomatoes, creamy lemon and thyme reduction. We should have ordered 3-4 more orders as this while a balanced and refreshing dish, was more suited to be a appetizer salad.

The mussels with chile, garlic, herbs, white wine were swimming generously in white wine and aromatic with garlic and fresh herbs. Portion size is quite smaller than other Italian restaurants around town, but I guess its so we can save room for dinner dinner. We had intially ordered one order of one mussel flavor and two of another, but the kitchen gave us two orders of each and comped one.. so we ended up having lots of mussels!!

I was more drawn to the mussels with spicy tomato sauce than the garlic white wine version (though usually I like garlic white wine mussels). Maybe it was the richness of the tomatos that added a bit extra depth to the sauce… perfect for dunking in extra servings of the warm crusty loaves of bread into! Mmmm!

the ENTREES
The kitchen was pretty good at serving everyone their entrees within a few minutes of each other, so we didn’t have to wait while the earlier arrivals tempted everyone else! In no particular order… one of our friends had the Penne Puttanesca w/ anchovies, capers, olives and tomato sauce – simple quality ingredients combined into a salty-tangy and savory yum!

Another fellow foodie had the Shell pasta filled w/ ricotta and spinach in tomato sauce, yet a great example of how simple ingredients can be transformed and elevated into a sum beyond its components. If you haven’t tried Oliveto’s scratch tomato sauce yet… do!

One of our friends after hearing we had tried the Tagliolini with sausage, prawns, scallops, broccoli, fresh tomatoes, artichoke pesto and chicken broth in the past, was quite happy with the seafood, veges and pasta worked with the simple pesto and broth.

Other fellow foodies went with the Tagliolini with mushrooms, tomatoes, wine cream sauce topped with smoked steelhead salmon – a heartier pasta that doesn’t go overboard with heavy cream sauce.

We also had the Spaghetinni with assorted seafood in a spicy tomato sauce - super simple and delicious.

A few of us went with the Gnocchi, braised beef, tomato sauce, au jus. I was hoping the braised beef would be melt in your mouth tender, but the cubes of meat while flavorful with red wine and juices its been braised in was overcooked and a bit on the dry side. The gnocchi was al-dente, and yet pillowy soft in the centre, absorbing the rich savory sauce like a sponge.

And a Gnocchi, braised beef, tomato sauce, au jus garnished with a bit of parsley… not sure why the other one wasn’t :P

Last but not least, was my entrée… which my boyfriend kept on stealing bites of. I don’t blame him, it was that good! I had the special: roasted herb encrusted rack of lamb with red wine reduction/jus, served with Tagliolini in Bolognese sauce. The baby lamb was rubbed in a herb crumb mixture and cooked to a beautiful tender rare with barely a trace of gaminess, pairing well with the jus reduction. However, the Bolognese sauce completely stole the show. Small little bits of pork belly? finely minced mirepoix, and a velvety savory tomato sauce with a perfect balance of sweetness in the cracktastic Bolognese sauce made it out of this world. Could not stop eating it. NOM! I experimented in the kitchen the next day with pork jowl to see if I could replicate the sauce – close but no cigar. Definitely heading back here to drink that Bolognese sauce!!

Most of us packed home parts of our entrees for lunch the next day – the birthday boy polished off his entire plate of pasta! The head waiter brought out a complimentary tiramisu with candle for the birthday boy (thank you!) and even after a digestion break, we nearly had to roll out the door.

the VERDICT
Again, a good show of great Italian fare, easily handling larger groups, with the kitchen always having a tasty surprise up their sleeve- this time it was a blow your mind Bolognese sauce Mmm! Oh yes, and a happy birthday boy! :D

Oliveto Trattoria
Address
500 Riverbend Square, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6R 2E3
Phone (780) 435-6411
Hours Mon-Fri 11:30am-9pm, Sat 5pm-9pm, Sun closed

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