Delizioso! An authentic experience on a budget – La Cantinella

Nestled away on the main street of St. George Ontario, home of the St. George Applefest, you will find boutique shops, a popular destination location tea house, history of the Women’s Institute and one of the desired hidden gems for Italian cuisine in Brant County, La Cantinella Ristorante Italiano.  

From the outside its appearance has decorative windows with its entrance covered with a large black awning, the name prominently etched on the windows, but what it doesn’t offer from the outside is the beautiful welcoming décor, wooden bar lined with wine glasses and fragrant aromas of simmering home cooked Italian foods.  On this occasion, I decide to explore this hidden gem that many have shared their stories of celebrating special occasions here because of the quality of authentic scratch Italian food and family traditions behind the menu.

It’s Tuesday night and we have traveled on two wheels to this quaint community to dive into the Tuesday promotion of “Two Can Dine for $39.99” at La Cantinella. I am curious about the meal selections waiting for us on the Tuesday night menu at a restaurant that which scaled as fine dining.  I enter through the heavy wooden door and am immediately welcomed with a warm hello and asked to select my own table. I am pleased already, as a lovely high top table for two overlooking the main street, was calling my name.

Menus offered, water poured, napkins placed and the scene is set for what I hope will be a delicious budget dining out experience.

One heavy menu for every day, one smaller menu for beverages, one paper menu copied back to back noting the $39.99 menu and on the flip side a $49.99 menu.  The servers were attentive to listen and nod with understanding that we were dining out on a budget on this particular evening therefore not partaking in wine or a beverage.

After browsing the “Tuesday Night Special” menu I understood my options as two appetizers, two entrees and a shared dessert.  When I flipped the menu over, it was a similar format for choices except there were a few more options for entrees with a protein at a higher price point. I was set on the budget dining out experience, as this was the point of the Tuesday night visit.  While making my selection,  I took a moment to peruse the price comparison from the Tuesday menu to the regular menu.  Interesting observation.  I was still deciding, and I had a difficult time making my entrée selection. I read the menu aloud one more time.  Menu closed, I was ready.  Warm bread arrived to the table with a plate of dark balsamic and olive oil to swoosh the bread and devour.  The balsamic was outstanding. Full stop.

Arriving to the table was the chosen appetizer Insalata Mista, a fresh baby greens salad topped with a beautiful pinkish radish and more, topped with a balsamic vinaigrette.   Next to arrive were the entrees.  Oh my! A bowl of fresh pasta drenched in a smooth aromatic alfredo mushroom sauce, that was calling my name.  Next to be plated was a dish of pasta covered in steaming red plum tomatoes with capers, anchovies and black olives.  Oh the unique aroma of this dish.  What we had before us was luxurious to say the least.  Delizioso! 

I was delighted to learn that the servers, throughout the entire visit of approximately 90 minutes, did not offer any difference in standard of service to our table because of the dining out on a budget conversation.  It was clear to see they enjoyed their work, were attentive to the details and made sure we were pleased with each course.

Let us not forget about dessert.  Two selections were on the menu and I will be honest, they are my two favourite selections. Crème Brulee and Tartufo.  The decision I made was perfection.  When the plate of cocoa dusted ice cream arrived to the table with a dollop of whipped cream, I couldn’t wait for my first taste. But not that fast!  First, let me take a photo!  A photo was required as the plating was perfectly St. George Applefest, featuring a cocoa dusted stenciled apple on the side.

The experience at La Cantinella was authentic, comfortable and affordable for fine dining and a treat to have such attentive service on a budget.  Now I know you might be thinking the service was exceptional and the food scrumptious because I have food toured to this location in the past.  I wondered if the owner would see that I was visiting on this particular evening and therefore may offer a varied standard of experience … but that wasn’t the case.  I quietly took a front window table, with no chef eyes in sight and comfortable that I would dine and eat from a place of an authentic experience that you can trust for yourself.

The final tally.  I wanted to experience the true Two Can Dine for $39.99 with no bells or whistles, no negotiating on price and yet wanting to know the full value of this same meal listed in the regular menu.  Was there a true savings by dining out on a Tuesday evening?  Oh yes there was, to the tune of three crisp ten dollar bills.

A ‘two fork’ high five to La Cantinella Ristorante Italiano who offer a local authentic experience with great service and the option on Tuesday to fine dine out locally on a budget, no questions asked!

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