Eating Your Content: Claudio’s Ristorante
Kathy dropped me a line a couple of weeks ago suggesting we try Claudio’s Ristorante (no web presence aside from a splash page). She passes by it on the way home from work and figured why not. Our first chance to try didn’t pan out as schedules didn’t gel. This time around, Marie and I joined her for some Italian cuisine.
I don’t typically make a note of complimentary bread but I thought this was worth noting. The bread, more akin to Crostini, was fantastic. It was served warm, and the crust was light and crispy. I absolutely loved this bread and was more than happy when our server brought a second serving for us in the latter half of the evening.
Insalata Mista – $7
Mixed Greens tossed with Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and White Wine Vinaigrette. Kathy ordered this to start and enjoyed. Extraordinarily vibrant colour in this salad. Everything was crisp and fresh.
Ave Caesar – $9
Marie and I both opened with this Caesar Salad. Romaine really shines through as it wasn’t overdressed like so many other restaurants. The finely chopped Double Smoked Bacon was warm and crispy. I was a big fan of the shaved Parmesan as well. This was a great way to start our meal.
Veal Picatta – $26
Marie ordered this dish. To say that she loved it would be an understatement. Her Spaghetti, lightly dressed with a hint of heat through the addition of Chili Flakes was cooked perfectly. I tried some of the Veal and it was very rich in flavour though the Lemon Sauce was a hair more acidic than I’d prefer. The generous portions of Veal were tenderized very thin, much to Marie‘s liking.
Bistecca Alla Griglia – $28
Please excuse the quality of the photo. I thought I’d taken a clear shot but when looking at it in editing, I could clearly see it wasn’t as sharp as I’d have liked. Moving along, Kathy ordered this dish; a Beef Striploin glazed in a Brandy Peppercorn Sauce atop a bed of Fried Potatoes. Much like the Veal, Claudio’s Ristorante didn’t mess around with portions. This was ordered Medium Well and cooked perfectly. I tried some (aka 1/3 as she couldn’t finish) and was impressed. The Brandy pushed through a little more than I’d have cared for as I got a tangy taste akin to a BBQ sauce, whereas I was hoping for more Peppercorn. I’d be curious to try this dish in a Medium Rare as this was far more cooked that I prefer.
Gnocchi 4 Formaggi – $20
I literally hadn’t eaten all day so I knew I’d gun for something on the heavier side. The sauce is a combination of Mozzarella, Parmesan, Provolone, and Blue Cheese. I was wary of the last one. I’m not a fan of anything in that family of Cheese and it’s typically overpowering. Our server reassured me that I’d barely taste Blue Cheese and he was right. This pasta was mind blowing. The Gnocchi was shockingly light. The sauce on the other hand was very rich. I’m a huge Cheese fan so I had no complaints about that. A generous addition of Black Pepper put this over the top. I would order this again in a heartbeat.
Tiramisu & Triple Chocolate Cake – $9
Marie had an… unpleasant experience with Tiramisu a few months ago at another Hamilton Italian restaurant and has been on the hunt for a better dessert ever since. This more than made up for her past displeasure. In fact, after finishing, she declared Claudio’s Ristorante her favourite Hamilton restaurant. Kathy and I split the Triple Chocolate Cake but I wasn’t that impressed. The cake itself was a little too rich and the Mascarpone icing didn’t do it for me. It felt like eating Cheesecake as an icing. We literally ate the cake inward and left the icing sort of standing in a 7 shape. Dessert has never been a deal breaker for my experience though so I’ll just chalk it up to “I don’t eat sweets often” and move along.
The 3 of us couldn’t have been happier with our experience. Our server Rinaldo, an older gentleman dressed to the 9′s in his suit, was FANTASTIC! He was attentive without being overbearing. He answered all of our questions and was happy to give suggestions wherever he could. We couldn’t have asked for a better server. We were fortunate to have a quiet dining area (we dined early on a Tuesday) with some light music in the background. I didn’t get a photo of the decor as there were other patrons around us that I didn’t want to disturb. It felt very much like going to an old Nonna’s home. The staff and ambiance were very friendly and welcoming. Everything was top flight. While I wouldn’t call it my favourite restaurant in Hamilton, I’d definitely say it was a great experience and would highly recommend dining at Claudio’s Ristorante.