Arancini Poutine at Sorrentino’s

Arancini Poutine at Sorrentino's Italian Restaurant in Edmonton

Arancini Poutine at Sorrentino’s in Edmonton

I enjoyed a number of good dishes at Sorrentino’s in downtown Edmonton during a ten day stay in the City. The place is an upscale Italian restaurant of the white-tablecloth variety, and the service was excellent on each of my visits. The appetizer you see above is an attempt at a fusion of an old Italian classic with a Canadian favorite of more recent origin. I am not sure how successfully they captured the Canadian part of the dish, but the result was very interesting.

For those unfamiliar, Arancini are small balls of rice which are often blended or stuffed with cheese before being deep-fried with a light breading. The shape, along with the resultant golden color from the deep-frying, is what gives these appetizer the name ‘Arancini’, which means little oranges.

At Sorrentino’s, this Italian classic was given a bit of a twist by serving the little balls in a fondue of Fontina cheese, with porcini mushrooms, truffle oil and wild boar bacon, and it is obviously the use of the cheese sauce that inspired the restaurant to fuse the name ‘Arancini’ with ‘Poutine’.

That being said, the Canadian dish actually features whole cheese curds in a basic gravy and this very rich cheese fondue was nothing like that. To be honest, I think they could have come up with a better name as ‘Poutine’ is very much a down-market, everyday snack, and fusing the two names here is a bit like calling Spaghetti with Bolognese sauce ‘Sloppy-Joe Noodles’.

The Arancini themselves were as good as any I have ever had. There was cheese of some sort (Asiago, perhaps) blended in with the rice, and the balls were nicely fried with a pleasant texture. The Fontina fondue was actually excellent, and certainly well-made, but it was really too rich for an appetizer, especially with the added Truffle Oil and Wild-Boar Bacon.

Personally, I though that the Truffle Oil would have been overkill no matter how the Fondue was used but an appetizer is supposed to be a light affair to rouse the tastebuds for what is to follow. With this item, my tastebuds were more ready to stagger away, heavily-laden from the table, ready for a post-prandial nap. The Arancini Poutine at Sorrentino’s were executed skillfully and well, but the concept was a poor one as far as appetizers go. I felt I could only give this dish a Rating of 3 out of 5.

Comments, questions or suggestions most welcome!