Pazzo Taverna, Stratford, Ontario.

August 2018

This nice formal-style Italian osteria is the high-end half of the taverna/pizzeria operation located centrally in town.

It’s a classy room if you like dark wood, green muted colours, and a high ceiling. The table is a rough trestle with comfortable chairs, and our waiter was a tall dark Italian-looking fellow who however spoke Ontario university English. He was attentive and ironically uber-well-mannered: “May I show you the wine label before I pour it?” with a sardonic little smile.

One can start with a solid list of Italian standards: muscles, burrata, various salads, shucked oysters, fried artichoke, a couple of soups… We got two servings of burrata and one of the antipasti which disappeared happily with Italian bread toasts and olive oil.

The mains offered included grilled flat iron steak, braised lamb shoulder, whole hen (a little Cornish game bird); pastas featured clam linguine, spring pea tortelli, and a smoked trout gigli lemon cream pasta. I had the steak and Robin the trout pasta. Both were lovely, the steak cooked “blue” which meant rare, nicely beef flavoured but accompanied by too many slightly greasy thin fries and of course some greens. I think the trout with lemon was the prize-winner, perfectly balancing sourness that didn’t overwhelm the trout flavor.

I had a glass of a lesser Italian nebbiolo which smelled like the real thing but disappeared immediately in the mouth. Dinner was $136 pre-tip for two, a little steep for what we got but not outrageous. It’s on the list of the top three or four in town.

Food 8.0, service 8.8, ambience 9.0, value 7.8, peace and quiet 8.0.

About John Sloan

John Sloan is a senior academic physician in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia, and has spent most of his 40 years' practice caring for the frail elderly in Vancouver. He is the author of "A Bitter Pill: How the Medical System is Failing the Elderly", published in 2009 by Greystone Books. His innovative primary care practice for the frail elderly has been adopted by Vancouver Coastal Health and is expanding. Dr. Sloan lectures throughout North America on care of the elderly.
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