Al Fogolar restaurant and event space has been a pillar of the Italian community in Woodbridge for forty years. Recently the restaurant has received a makeover. It’s the same Nonna’s in the kitchen, but a new chef and team have fancified the presentation so that all those rich flavours receive the elegant plating they deserve.
We order two pastas to share. Orrechetta with rapini and sausage is contrasted by the gnocchi with tomato sauce. Two basic dishes presented beautifully. Al Fogolar has long been known for its gnocchi. Those glorious doughy pillows lavished in rich tomato, garlic and basil are the ultimate comfort. The orrechetta is al dente and the dish is garden fresh.
Today’s fish is an oratta (European sea bream) with a generous ladling of lentils with lemon and tarragon that adds a vibrant herbal essence. The oratta is meaty and delicate, and we savour every bite. This kitchen has the finesse and restraint to ensure that no one ingredient overpowers; everything compliments and harmonizes. They are, after all, cooking for expert gourmets.
Sometimes the mark of a great kitchen is in its most simple dishes; how they’re elevated to optimize flavour but not deviate from they’re true essence. Tender charcoal grilled rib eye steak is in the right hands. Juicy and robust, it is cooked to the perfect a point. Spinach, fingerling potatoes and delectable hen of the woods mushrooms marry the flavours of the steak, and round out a dish that makes our taste buds dance. It is too good to share.
Our Dolce del Giorno is a light crisp crostoli with grand marnier rum and grappa that entices us to stay and linger over another espresso.
~ Al Fogolar, 7065 Islington Avenue, 905-851-1166 ~
Adam Waxman is an award winning travel journalist focusing on food, wine and well being. As well as an actor in film, television and formerly, the Stratford Festival, he is the Associate Publisher and Executive Editor of DINE and Destinations magazine.