Brim28 is an familiar neighborhood to many. It is a pack of newly opened restaurants, with al fresco dining in mind. The 33-degree days did not affect our desire to sit outside. With the smell of crusty pizza and aroma of meats turning in the rotisserie, DiVino Patio has yet to be packed with diners. Find out what whetted our appetite on our visits.
Operated by the same restaurant group that operates Central's DiVino and TST's Spasso, DiVino Patio brings forth the 50s Italian grocery store concept, featuring rustic décor and comfortable booth seating along one side and an open kitchen complete with a partially open kitchen, a deli and a connecting bar on the other side. The idea is to allow guests to experience what they eat and how it's made. Led by chef Angela Vecchio, the menu is decidedly more casual and rustic, aiming for diners to share with their company.
The advantage of running the restaurant under an experienced restaurant is that resources can be allocated well. Such is the case for DiVino Patio's "500 GRAMS BUFFALO "BURRATA" with cherry tomato salad". The Burrata has gained much attention lately, mostly for its peculiar exterior that somehow looked like a bag tied to the top, holding in creamy cheesy filling within. Having imported directly from Italy, one could hardly tell the quality of the burrata until a slit is made on the fresh cheese itself. Our burrata arrived cold, and when slit in the middle, the contents that spilled was nowhere near creamy. It imparted and aroma of pure cream, yet the texture was surprisingly lumpy, almost like fresh ricotta cheese. The taste, however, was unaffected by the texture and appearance. The cheese itself was soft and creamy, whose richness is balanced out by the sweet juicy cherry tomato salad served on the side.
When the "Taleggio Risotto with Asparagus and Truffle oil" arrived, it looked like a custard-coloured risotto with no surprise at all. Seconds later we felt a whiff of cheesy aroma arising, and that's the magic of this dish. The Taleggio came in two separate hits - the risotto base itself and small cubes that were added in the final minutes of the cooking, which allows the cheese cubes to melt gradually with the residual heat. The gooey cheese melts slightly into the al dente rice, anointed with a light drizzle of truffle oil and fresh asparagus. This risotto is rich, but not enough to cause a food coma after it.
Chili-lovers beware: the "Paccheri de Gragnano " is an interesting pasta dish at DiVino Patio. Paccheri is a long tube-shaped pasta similar to that of a Rigatoni. It is often served in a thick sauce or a ragout with sausages. Here at the DiVino Patio Chef Vecchio created a ragout with Nduja sausage, known for its intense heat and meatiness, and the Red Gurnard fish. The ragout, despite the strong flavours of red gurnard, has the fiery essence of the nduja sausage and firm flakes of fish within. It's recommended for those who love their pasta with lots of chilies. If you're looking for something a little mild but, look elsewhere, because this one is all about intensity and it only gets hotter further down.
The "Porchetta", a signature here at DiVino Patio, is served alongside Rosemary Potatoes and Artichoke "alla Giudea". The Italian suckling pork belly is rolled and tied up and placed in the rotisserie and slow roasted until the meat turns succulent. The addition of herbs intensify the flavours, but it is the fennel seeds that did the magic, offering a sweeter anise flavor to the meat itself. We were particularly pleased with the golden brown crust trapping the melting layers of fat beneath, although the meat layers can be a little tough in parts. The rosemary potatoes on the side are the winners in this dish - simply cubed and panfried until all sides are sealed with a crust.
The wheat aroma of pizza is what invited us into this restaurant, it would be hard not to try it. The "Parma Pizza", served generously with 24-month "Riserva" Parma ham and arugula. As generous as it looked, the pizza crust felt coarse and tough in texture. The base itself turned soggy soon after arrival. The filling was comprised with a tangy tomato sauce base, followed by an abundance of arugula and pink ribbons of Parma ham, was good enough on its own, although one who loves pizza would prefer the entire package to be done well. There is certainly room for improvement to build a better crust.
We were equally surprised to find Sicilian Cannoli on the menu, as we have sampled some budding restaurants serving them here in the city. The DiVino version, a thin pastry tube served dessert-style plated on a dish with espresso sauce, made it difficult to be consumed without a sticky situation (with hands) or the pastry collapsing (with cutlery). This version of the cannoli pastry tube was made with one pasta tube swirling and wrapping around a tube mold, and was thin and crispy. The ricotta filling, however, would not be approved by cannoli purists, as this version was more of ricotta pastry cream than a conventional ricotta filling. It may be light after a scrumptious meal, it didn't hold the key characteristics of the dessert itself.
The best time to go to DiVino Patio, we found, is in the afternoon of a weekend where the crowds are more relaxed. Weeknights are a quiet alternative too. Service is prompt but discounting missed reservations and bread that never came, it is attentive enough.