Eating Your Content: La Cantina
I”m a huge fan of Italian food. As my mom used to say “You better marry an Italian girl that can cook.” Words to live by no doubt. I haven’t had pasta in over a month so when I was looking at spots I wanted to hit up, La Cantina immediately came to mind. I was fortunate to be joined by Marie & Kathy (work sucks Jake) and we were off.
La Cantina is split into 3 sections. As the hostess explained, one section is primarily appetizers and pastas. One section is for premium dishes and one is for… both? Now I don’t know about you but I like having all of my options so why wouldn’t I want to sit in a section that gave me the most choices? Maybe there’s a method to the madness but I haven’t got a clue on that one. We were seated in the lower level across the beautiful bar. Our server was very sweet and prompt in getting our drink and appetizer order.
Bruschetta Mista – $11.95
I split this with Kathy. This was a mix of all available Bruschetta on the menu. I hadn’t been to La Cantina in 3 years. The last time I was there I had this dish but avoided anything that wasn’t in my comfort zone (aka I only ate one of 6 choices). A lot has changed in that time. Bruschetta alla Molisana (Sundried Tomato Puree, Goat Cheese, Garlic Olive Oil) was flat out amazing. That had to be the creamiest Goat Cheese I have ever eaten. I was thankful that Kathy didn’t want the second piece because I couldn’t eat it fast enough. The 3 diced Tomato Bruschettas (Tradizionale, Formaggio, Calabrese) were all very tasty. The tomatos were crisp and fresh. The Calabrese specifically was fantastic. They drizzled the bocconcini with peperoncini oil for a pleasant element of heat. I was a huge fan. The only piece I didn’t like was the only one not on the menu. One piece was just chopped Rapini and Olive Oil. It didn’t taste like… anything. I’m not sure why it was included as I would have much preferred any of the other pieces over this one. On a related note, I enjoyed this appetizer so much that I literally mulled over getting a second one for upwards of 10 minutes. Thankfully I took a pass as sometimes (most times?) my eyes are bigger than my stomach.
We received a complimentary basket of bread. I didn’t snap a photo and honestly it wasn’t anything to write home about. The Calabrese and butter were both cold. I don’t know if they typically warm up their bread but it’d have made a far stronger impression if it was warmer. Whatever, I’m not there for bread.
I’m on the hunt for the best thin crust pizza in Hamilton (or anywhere for that matter but ready access is always helpful). If you have recommendations on what you think the best thin crust pizza is please leave a comment or email me. As for this evening, I was overjoyed to find out both Kathy & Marie were getting pizza (and that I could scum a slice each).
4 Formaggi – $14.95
La Cantina offers an extensive Pizza menu. They had 20 offerings to choose from. Much to Marie‘s delight, they had seven White Pizza options to work with (she hates Tomato in all forms). This pizza was topped with Mozzarella, Feta, Goat Cheese and Asiago. The 4 cheeses all have their own distinct texture and it layered perfectly. I was especially fond of the slight graininess of the Feta against the other cheeses. The crust (is it odd that crust is my favourite part of pizza?) was really good as it was very crisp and brushed with garlic oil. There’s a good chance I’ll order this to my face the next time I pop in.
Margherita – $12.95
Kathy ordered this pizza and it was another home run. It’s topped with Mozzarella, Bocconcini and sliced Roma Tomatoes. She also added mushrooms ($1.50). Our server thought it was an interesting choice and figures she’ll do the same if/when she orders it herself. The star of this pizza in my opinion was the Bocconcini. It was melted down just enough and was typically topped over sliced tomato so you got a great sweet taste along with the cheese. I loved this pizza. I may end up on a pizza bender in La Cantina if they’re all this good.
Lasagna – $17.95
Well I wanted pasta and this definitely fit the bill. The photo doesn’t do the sheer size and depth of this dish justice. I found insight from our server interesting. La Cantina makes their pasta fresh every day. In a case like Lasagna you obviously can’t make it to order so it’s prepped twice per day. As the day winds down, the portion of the serving increases so as to ensure they don’t have to throw any out by the end of the night. I should show up at 8pm next time and fall into a food coma. A couple of negatives here. I somewhat ruined it’s full effect as I asked for Parmesan on top and it overpowered some of the flavours. That’s entirely my fault and a live and learn lesson. An actual complaint I had was in the texture of the Lasagna though. Everyone is different but for me I want to get a sense of the layers in my Lasagna. I could see it was layered well but when I cut into it, it was… too easy as the pasta was overcooked. It’s a total texture nitpick but had to be noted. It was delightful with rich flavours throughout. I couldn’t even finish as I took half of it home. That speaks volumes to the size of the portion considering I’m typically one to finish my plate.
I was more than satisfied with La Cantina. Cold bread aside, the rest of the experience was everything I’d hoped for. The pizzas were both delicious. I’ll be ordering pizza for sure the next time I’m there. My Lasagna was thick with great flavours. Our server was a joy and attentive throughout the evening. I’d definitely recommend hitting up La Cantina for an Italian Food fix.