35 William Street, Ottawa – Website
Date of Visit: March, 2019
I have passed by Vittoria Trattoria scores of times while shopping in Ottawa’s Byward Market, and have long meant to stop in for a meal sometime. I finally did so on my most recent visit to the capital and ended up having a pretty enjoyable evening…
The restaurant has a lower and an upper floor and the bottom half is divided into a small section with a bar and a few tables, and a much larger space that seats 40. I was seated in the latter and I found it very pleasant and comfortable, with simple, plain stone walls and pristine white table cloths.
The menu at Vittoria Trattoria is not extensive but it runs the gamut from simple to sophisticated. They do a fair range of pizzas here, in addition to some fancier dishes, and the wood fired oven gives the main seating area a nice cozy warmth.
Escargot – For my first course, I chose escargot sautéed with mushrooms in a tarragon-garlic cream sauce that was (apparently) spiked with vermouth. I can’t say I was overly impressed with this, all though there was nothing horribly wrong with it, but the cream sauce was bland and tasted very little of either tarragon, or vermouth. I also found that the split cornbread muffin it was served with did not go well at all. It was too sweet and the effect was jarring. Polenta might have worked, but the muffin was too sweet and just wrong.
Rack of Lamb – This was a sumac crusted rack with roasted potatoes and grilled Mediterranean vegetables. The vegetables in question were peppers and zucchini and, as with the potatoes, were pretty nicely done, if not especially remarkable. I ordered the lamb rare and was a little surprised when I got just that. Invariably, when I order lamb, and sometimes steak, it ends up being over cooked and so I was rather expecting a medium rare (which, in truth, I probably would have preferred). In any event, the chef did an excellent job and I liked the charring on the edge fat and bone. I can’t say I could really detect sumac here… there was a crust on the lamb that was peppery and had a herbaceous note to it, but I didn’t get the sharp taste of sumac at all. Still, the result was pretty decent overall and I managed to finish all the succulent meat with genuine enjoyment.
Anyway, my evening at Vittoria Trattoria was very pleasant. I wasn’t overwhelmed by my appetizer, but the rack of lamb made up for it and I would happily return for another meal sometime.