422 Preston Street, Ottawa – Website
Date of Visit – July, 2017
Allegro caught my eye because it has a very nice menu… Quite a few classic paste dishes, a good selection of veal preparations and, more importantly from my perspective, a nice range of appetizers. The place turned out to be quite pleasant, and the service decent, but I was less impressed with the actual food…
Allegro is very small, seating about 40 at maximum capacity, I would say. It is nicely appointed, almost upscale, but I was little taken aback to be seated by a young man in a t-shirt, shorts and sneakers. To be fair, I arrived a few minutes before the official opening time, and he did change later, but first impressions do count… Beyond that, the service was generally good and the place seems to be a local favorite. Several tables nearby were speaking Italian and the staff seemed to know many of the patrons quite well. The only quibble I had with the atmosphere was that there was a radio tuned to an Italian station and playing quite loudly. The music might have been easy to ignore but the high-energy announcers were irritating.
Prosciutto e Pera – This was described as pear and gorgonzola cheese slices wrapped in Prosciutto di Parma. It wasn’t, I thought, a very elegant presentation; moreover, the prosciutto was merely laid atop slices of chees and pear and thus a little tricky to eat. I am not generally fond of very sharp or pungent cheeses, so I tried this with some trepidation, but, in fact, the combination of flavors worked well here. The smears of thick Balsamic Vinegar on the plate helped cut the creaminess of the cheese but, actually, I thought the very nice Pinot Grigio I had with this worked even better. This wasn’t spectacular, but still pretty good.
Carpaccio -This was ‘marinated’ tenderloin thinly sliced and garnished with capers, onions, olive oil, and shaved Parmigiano. The beef here was suspiciously like the stuff you get for Chinese hotpots in the supermarket freezer section. It was quite nicely sweet but there was no hint of any marinade at all. The capers were fine, but the shaved cheese here was definitely not top quality, being quite bland. Overall this was not terrible, just not very good.
Salsicce al Sukhu – This was described on the menu as homemade Italian Sausage with peppers, Black olives and white wine. It was not quite what I expected… The sausage was balls of sausage meat rather than sliced sausage, and the peppers were the small hot variety rather than the more common mixed sweet type. There may have been some white wine lurking in the mix somewhere but, if so, I was unable to detect it. I probably would still have liked this dish (the sausages were nicely spicy and lively with fennel) but the whole thing was horribly over salted. One of those unfortunate kitchen mishaps perhaps, but it spoiled the dish entirely.
I wanted to like Allegro. It was a pleasant place and the service was generally good but the meal left a lot to be desired. Maybe it was just a bad day for them but I could only rate this place at a 2 out of 5.