10 September, 2011

It Really WAS Grand!!!

My sister is in town this week and even though I had a complete menu planned out of Jambalaya, Panang Curry, Gyros and Lamb Korma with all the trimmings, she decided she'd like to take us out for what I figured must have been a belated anniversary gift.  There of course was the polite refusal and assertion that I already shopped for the menu of her whole visit, but this doesn't work in my family...at ALL.  Not even for a second or two.  So...we had to pick a place...  But WHAT am I in the mood for?!  Always a problem.  I grabbed my obscenely long list out of my purse and we headed for downtown Ottawa.  After snapping some shots of Parliament Hill and the river we made our way to Byward Market.

I'm more indecisive than you could possibly imagine.  I started out wanting a nice crusty breaded sandwich of some kind...ciabatta bread or somethin' toasted.  We walked for what seemed like ages before we hit a place that was on my list and had a menu that our little group could deal with.  It wasn't too busy and they were able to seat us right away.  Yay!!  Dinner at The Grand Pizzeria & Bar was already off to a GREAT start for a Friday night!

This place was on my "to eat" for the Italian category...rather vague, I know but the title pretty much spelled it out.  As I looked through the menu a couple of things caught my eye in the antipasti category and a couple of items under pasta as well.  We ordered up a small pizza with nothin' but sauce and goat cheese for the Sprout right away...we've learned...  I was SO curious about the "Grand Sharing Platter" they had listed on the antipasti, but I knew that there was NO way we could eat it all and have room for our main entrees.  Finally my Mister, my sister and I agreed on a portion of the bruschetta.  I asked our waiter what things he's tried and loved off the pasta menu and he directed me towards the Pappardelle alla Salvatore and the Rigatoni Siciliana.  I knew I was in the mood for meat, so I didn't take more than two seconds to decide on the Salvatore.  With the orders in...time to take a look around.


I made it back to the table JUST in time for the bread basket.  Boy, was I glad for that.  I was SO hungry I was about to dig into my purse for somethin'.  We hadn't been waiting long, but I was overly hungry before we got there.  Perfect timing!!

It was super soft and the butter was very creamy and rich.  Everyone agreed as bread goes it was a winner.  Loverly crust on the outside and great texture in the meat of the roll.  Loved it...wish they would have brought more!  A couple minutes after the last slice of bread was devoured they brought our Sprout his pizza.  It LOOKED beautiful!  There is just somethin' about wood oven cooked pizza!  Once you have it like that, it seems like a fallacy to dream it can taste acceptable made any other way.  We had to cut it up for him, this is where my sister and I decided to sneak a taste.  We both agreed...the crust and sauce were dynamite!  There wasn't much on this one, so we couldn't critique further than that, but OH...I was wishing we had gotten a small SOMEthin'...ANYthing...to share for the whole table.  As soon as I finished cutting up the pizza, our antipasti was up.


I'll tell you right now...YES, it tasted as great as it looks!  The bread was soft on the inside and crisp on the outside, the tomatoes were fresh, the cheese was rich and the basil was very aromatic and delightful with the garlic.  I liked that they had their bruschetta on Italian loaf...some places get crazy and put it on breads that are TOO hard and go beyond just a simple "crusty" effect.  Simple, clean flavors will always win over pretentious complicated ones.  Bravissimo!

We each had a chance to love on our pieces of antipasti before our mains showed.  The Sprout was getting closer to losing it...when I saw our plates coming out from the kitchen I started to wonder if someone was in the kitchen reading my mind!
Pappardelle alla Salvatore

I'll bet you think this must have been fabulous...  It WAS!!  HA!  Out of this WORLD delicious!  It has been quite a long time since I've had pasta that was as satisfying as this was.  I have struck out SO many times in this town with pasta, I'd all but decided to just give up on finding any that was acceptable.  And I won't lie...their "al dente" was a bit firm for my liking, but....the flavor made it very easy to look past and get used to.  Quite frankly, after a while it gave the dish an even more hearty feel.  When my sister tried the noodles she assured me she'd had more firm noodles than that when she was in Italy and then had me try her dish...her pasta ended up being a TON more firm than mine was.  Oh, va bene!  The truffle oil and cream sauce was Heavenly.  The porcini mushroom and sausage combination was unbelievable and well paired with the sauce.  I found myself wishing I hadn't eaten antipasti before hand...I might have been able to finish my platter of pasta!  The sauce was thick and beautiful.  It was perfectly made; no separation between the oil and cream.  I could go on, but I believe you get the picture.  If it wouldn't have been unladylike for me to do it....I would have been dippin' and lickin' it up with my finger.  Yeah...it was that wonderful.

Overall, I would recommend The Grand as a place with a great casual atmosphere, good food and competitive prices.  The service at times left something to be desired, but as annoying as it is to have a water glass constantly empty, hating your food is TEN TIMES worse!  I read a lot about this place before I went and I was bracing myself for the worst.  It turned out to be some of the best food I've had in town yet.  I'd go back again without a second thought.  Next time, I'm ordering pizza!  Thanks for a great dinner!  

The Grand Pizzeria & Bar on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. So glad to have met you at Theta today! I want to follow you, but can't find the button for some reason. Email me at literalmom[@]gmail.com and we can try and figure it out!