There are a number of Edmonton restaurants that have taken up residence in grand old houses; most are in the vicinity of the ever-quirky 124 Street. Violino Gastronomia Italiana occupies a stately manor, and this venue provides an ideal setting for special meals - the sort where one does want to fuss with multiple sets of cutlery and peruse a multi-page wine list. A swinging jazz soundtrack punctuated by smooth saxophones meanders but never intrudes.
A slightly rotund bottle of Fontanafredda Barolo. This noble vintage bursts with dry and bold ruby-red fruits. An assertive presence.
Primi Piatti includes cherry tomatoes and onions lightly dressed in a fragrant olive oil and herb vinaigrette. Gargantuan fresh basil leaves add notes of earthy licorice, but I wish the tomatoes were riper.
I carefully incise Halibut alla Violino. Here, a dense yet flaky portion of milky white halibut rests upon a small stack of asparagus and a judicious hillock of chive mashed potatoes. The fish is crusted with decadent mushrooms and aromatic roasted garlic - an intuitive and very agreeable combination - but the potatoes are the meal's dark horse. I've never been a fan of mashed spuds, but Violino's version propels me to scrape up every last bit.
Costolette di Agnello is a fancier way of saying lamb chops. These tender morsels are cooked exactly medium rare and share quarters with arugula and fingerling potatoes. An apricot mustard rub plays off the lamb's inherent gentle gaminess.
Violino served a thoroughly delicious meal in a very classy setting. I would implore them, though, to reconsider the length of the menu. Violino's menu could easily be pared down to fit one page without losing anything. Don't change the soundtrack, though. Good jazz is timeless.