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James Street North, in downtown Hamilton, is constantly adding new spots to dine. It’s part of a major revamp of Hamilton as a whole and I’m glad to see it happen. A month ago, I caught word of Lavo‘s opening. I’m always one for Italian food so it was only a matter of time before I popped in and sampled what they had to offer. I was joined by Marie & Kathy this time around.
We popped in on a quiet Wednesday. Sorry about the odd angled photos, I didn’t want to get anyone in the shots. I’ve never been one to try and pretend like I have any idea about interior design. I will say that I loved the fact the Pizza oven was in plain view. I’ve always been big on open kitchens, and while that isn’t the case here, the oven was a nice touch.
We received complimentary Flatbread brushed with with Basil and Garlic. It came with Hummus made daily in house. It had been suggested the Hummus wasn’t made fresh in the restaurant but I was assured by the manager that is not the case. It was a perfect way to get our evening started.
Caesar Salad – $9
Lavo makes all of their dressing in house, including their Caesar. Our server Alicia noted that there is Anchovie in the mix though. That’s a red flag for me as I’m not a fan. Marie didn’t mind though and ordered this to start. I gave it a taste and I’ll admit I didn’t get any fishy taste. I think I’ve been traumatized too many times by dressings that are overloaded with Anchovie. The Baby Romaine Lettuce was cold, crisp and enjoyable. I didn’t get in on the Pancetta or Focaccia. Marie noted she would have liked a bit more garlic, though that’d come up again later in the night.
Mista – $7
Kathy ordered this mixed green salad with Heirloom Tomato, Cucumbers, and Crumbled Feta. It was dressed with a Lemon Vinigrette. She thought it was fine but nothing special. I’m not one for mixed greens and took a pass. It should be noted that Kathy only got through half the salad because we were overwhelmed by…
Basil & Tomato Parmigiano Bruschetta – $8
Our server warned us this would be big and that it was meant for sharing. I’ve heard that so many times in so many restaurants it just flies in one ear and out the other. Well… she wasn’t kidding. This thing was a BEAST! It looked like a Large Pizza when it arrived. I hadn’t had carbs in basically a week so I was overjoyed to see this beauty placed in front of us. The Flatbread was baked perfectly. I’m all about that crisp bite. It was topped with Heirloom Tomatos and mixed Kalamata Olives but I got no sense of the latter. I’m actually grateful for that as I can’t stand Olives. This should have been eaten by 4 – people instead of well… me, with Kathy getting in on a bit of it. I’d order this to my face again easy.
Prosciutto Sliders – $9
You get 2 with your order and a side of mixed greens. I probably could have eaten 6. The Focaccia was warm and crisp upon biting into it. The Prosciutto was delicious. I was leery it’d be too salty but this was spot on. The Roasted Red Peppers were a a bit over but it’s splitting hairs. It’s probably the difference in a couple seconds to be honest. I’m not typically one for sliced Tomato (coming from the guy who just ate a Bruschetta to his face) but it worked well here. I told Marie to order this in the future without Tomato as she was definitely missing out not getting a taste.
Pizza Margherita – $13
Welcome to the lone mediocre experience on the night. Kathy ordered this pizza (I swear this girl is cursed when she eats with me). You know how some people say something is “fine.” Well this was exactly that. There was nothing wrong with it, but nothing really stood out to me either. The pizza itself was crisp. I found the sauce limp, lacking in any robust flavours. Buffalo Mozzerella is very mild and needs help from toppings. Considering it’s as basic a pizza as you can get, that’s a lose/lose situation.
Veal Parmigiano – $18
Marie‘s the veal girl and is pretty discerning about it. To say she enjoyed this would be an engrossing understatement. The Veal was pounded out perfectly, with fantastic breading and plentiful amounts of Mozzerella. I got in on a little of the action and was pleased with it. I’d probably lose my mind taking the Veal strip and putting it in freshly baked Focaccia. God… now I want it. I better learn to make Veal like this quickly. ANYWAY… Marie subbed in Linguine and then asked if they could load it up with Garlic. As I said after trying the pasta, the garlic punched me in the face. NOTE this isn’t the norm, this was done as per her request and she was very happy.
Carbonara – $14
You know how you take for granted a restaurant will cook your pasta Al Dente and most of them overcook? This was definitely not the case here. As a standalone, this pasta was cooked PERFECTLY! It’s rare I note something like that because I think I’ve grown used to restaurants simply overcooking their pasta. The delicious Bacon Lardon permeated throughout the dish and in every bite. Thin sliced Pancetta was strewn throughout but I’ll be frank in saying I found it lacking in amount. As a whole, the dish worked well though and I can almost still taste that Bacon.
White Chocolate Fudge Brownie Delight – $11
The photo may not do it justice. It was large enough for 4. I rarely eat dessert and I absolutely loved it. Sweet freaks may fight their friends over the last bite. Just… just eat it.
Another great addition to Hamilton’s James Street North. Mediocre Pizza aside, we thoroughly enjoyed everything placed in front of us at Lavo. As for service, our server Alicia was a complete sweetheart. She was attentive, funny, informative in answering our questions, and helpful in handling substitutions. I recommend Lavo. I’ll be going back sooner rather than later. Bring your appetite, you’re going to need it.
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