After receiving its recent accolade of “Best Restaurant in Victoria” by Vancouver Magazine, I knew that Zambri’s Restaurant was one restaurant I couldn’t miss dining out at any longer.
Prior to eating here, I had read numerous reviews of this restaurant, most of which had only great things to say about chef Peter Zambri’s ability to create incredible Italian dishes.
When my two friends and I showed up on a Saturday evening around 7, I wasn’t surprised to see the place totally packed.
Unfortunately we didn’t have reservations (highly recommended by the way!) and all the seats at the bar were taken. The waiting area is small (and was also full), so we didn’t really know where to stand while waiting for our table.
We asked the bartender for a drink and got seated shortly after.
When we got seated, the hostess sat us at a table right beside the open door that leads to the open air Atrium building.
It was really breezy there (they keep the door open all the time) and had we stayed, I would have had to wear my jacket all night so I asked if we could be moved.
Thankfully another table opened up near the front of the restaurant and the atmosphere felt much warmer and cozier there.
Once firmly ensconced at our new table, we decided to order some Italian wine.
At the recommendation of our very knowledgeable server, we ordered a bottle of the “Granderella, 2005″ ($10 per glass, $50 per bottle) from Northern Italy.
It was definitely an excellent choice of wine, as we had no problem finishing the bottle (and then some!) as the night wore on.
For an appetizer I ordered the “Zambri Cesare Salad” ($10).
It was excellent and as far as Caesar salads go, one of the better ones I’ve had.
For mains, I ordered the “Spaghetti Aglio Olio Pepperonciono” ($18), my friend Shelley had the “Marinara Pizza” ($13), and my friend Mark ordered the “Penne with Peas and Gorgonzola” ($18).
I recently read that Peter Zambri’s goal for his restaurant is to serve “true” Italian food in a more casual style.
Based on reading the description of my dish on the menu, I thought it might taste a bit plain, but I have to say that Peter achieves his goal and I absolutely loved the simplicity yet extreme “yumminess” (for lack of better word) of it!
Because the menu changes daily, you may not be able to order the exact same dishes that we did.
However, all the dishes that we tasted were excellent so I’m pretty sure you won’t be disappointed with anything you order here.
The only minor thing you may not like here (especially if you have allergies) is that they don’t allow substitutions.
This didn’t affect me or my friends, but I can see how it would be an inconvenience and could possibly turn people off of the restaurant.
As I mentioned, the dishes we ordered all sounded pretty simple, but tasted anything but. Proof that you don’t need a lot of ingredients to make a fantastic tasting entree.
The entree that Mark ordered was just Penne with peas and gorgonzola cheese.
He loved it and I also enjoyed the few bites I tried.
Not a big surprise that this dish was labelled as a “favourite at Zambri’s”.
Shelley’s Marinara pizza was a favourite at our table. It came with tomatoes, garlic, oregano and cheese.
She added an extra topping of buffalo mozzarella ($5) and that worked really well on it. No problems finishing this entree!
For my finale of the evening, I ordered the “Budino al Cioccolata Caramella Salsa” ($7).
Translated, this was the chocolate pudding with caramel sauce and salt cookie.
I haven’t had this exact dessert before but if you think pudding sounds plain, it wasn’t.
The dessert tasted decadent and was just the right amount sweet that I was looking for (not too much that I couldn’t finish it).
Overall all of us really enjoyed our meals at Zambri’s, and were happy with our server’s knowledge of the food and wine.
Though the atmosphere is a bit more casual than say “Il Terrazzo”, there is a good vibe and lots of energy going on in here.
Provided we would be able to sit away from the entrance to the Atrium on future visits, we would all love to come back to Zambri’s again.