Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Villaggio Ristorante: A Classic Italian Gem in Kleinburg

Nestled in the quaint village of historic Kleinburg, is Villaggio Ristorante, a picturesque treasure located above the Humber River Ridge where Chef Antonio Barbiere and his family have been bringing classic Mediterranean Italian cuisine to customers for almost 30 years. Having run Il Molinaro in Mississauga for 24 years, the family took their years of culinary experience and moved to the charming village of Kleinburg in 2004, and decided to call the new restaurant Villaggio. Always striving to produce the freshest, highest quality and most enticing classic Mediterranean Italian-influenced culinary creations, Chef Antonio's motto and raison d’être has always been the same: high quality ingredients and excellent service. 

Chef Antonio Barbiere with his daughter Chef Ramona Barbiere and Chef Ryan Daley, are supported by a wonderful team of Sous chefs Matteo Napoleoni and Andrea Gabbio

Aside from crafting wonderful dishes and graciously welcoming their guests, Villaggio takes con­siderable pride in using the finest ingredients. "Food is always fresh. Even the gnocci and pizza dough are homemade. We use traditional ingredients and our olive oil is directly imported from Italy." And the cuisine is deliciously authentic. Together with the warm and inviting ambiance, dining at Villaggio is rather like being welcomed into someone's home. Anessa, one of Chef Antonio's daughters, took care of us the afternoon we dined at Villaggio, and explained that the whole family works in the restaurant, having been given the reigns by their father. Chef Antonio still makes an appearance these days, but looking more like a country gentleman than a chef in whites. He admits that his children do most of the work these days. When I asked about Chef Daley, Anessa said, "Well, he's like family!"

Chef Ryan Daley, Villagio Ristorante

Villaggio's pretty exterior makes it appear more like a country residence than a restaurant, except that the building anchors a small retail complex, but inside, the interior is handsome and appealing with rich saffron and caramel accents dark wood furniture and stone detailing. Casually elegant, while remaining simple and unpretentious, Villaggio is an unexpected gem just a stone's throw from the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, making a visit to this Italian tesoro an absolute delight.

A central bar anchors two dining rooms, light-filled at noon, 
flickering with flames at night. 

The second dining area in the middle of the restaurant...

...allows for extra room for larger parties

One of Chef Antonio's biggest pride and joy is his wine collection, which makes ordering from Villaggio's wine list a joy, with wines by the glass served in 7-ounce carafes, to bottles wines from Italy, Australia, California, New Zealand and France, as well as local craft beers such as Stone Hammer Premium German-style Pilsner brewed in Guelph.

2009 Serenissima Pinot Grigio from Veneto, Italy

Stone Hammer Premium German-style Pilsner from Guelph

Villaggio menu

A dish of chopped tomato, parsley, onion and olive oil antipasto arrives at the table 
along with sme fresh bread, to whet the appetite while perusing the menu

Villaggio's extensive menu is so full of delicious authentic Italian dishes, its difficult to choose from among the antipasti and insalate including Carpaccio di Toscana with thinly sliced veal with shaved parmigiano reggiano with lemon and olive oil, sprinkled with radicchio; Calamari Fritti; Bresaola of thinly sliced, cured beef on a bed of arugula with shaved parmigiano padano extra virgin olive oil and aged balsamic, or the Zuppa del Giorno, which today was a luscious and creamy wild mushroom soup — the best I've tasted since Auberge du Pommier.

Carpaccio di Toscana: thinly sliced veal with shaved parmigiano reggiano with 
lemon and olive oil, and sprinkled with radicchio

Zuppa del Giorno: Mushroom Soup

Radicchio Salad with goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette

Bresaola: thinly sliced, cured beef on a bed of arugula,
shaved parmigiano padano extra virgin olive oil and aged balsamic

Caprese di Bufala with imported Buffalo Mozzarella, vine tomatoes, fresh basil,
drizzled with extra virgin olive oil 

Next on the menu are secondi such as of Rack of Lamb and Vitello Villaggio, which is veal scaloppini sautéed in a cream sauce with mushrooms and onions, to selections of Pesce, Pizza, Pasta and Risotto, with dishes like Tortellini Villaggio with cremini and oyster mushrooms, prosciutto in a cream wine sauce; Ravioli verdi al Cognac with spinach ravioli filled with ricotta cheese in a cognac cream sauce; Tagliatelli con Cinghiale, a wild boar Bolognese sauce with green and white tagliatelli; and a sublime Risotto Aragosta with fresh lobster meat and cream.

Tortellini Villaggio with cremini and oyster mushrooms, prosciutto in a cream wine sauce

Tagliatelli con Cinghiale: green and white tagliatelli in a wild boar Bolognese sauce

Risotto Aragosta with fresh lobster meat and cream

Vitello Villaggio, veal scaloppini sautéed in a mushroom and onion cream sauce

Villagio's Pullia Pizza with tomato sauce, mozzarella, red and yellow roasted 
peppers, artichokes, asparagus and parmigiano

This is simply delicious food, beautifully prepared and graciously served, in a lovely, welcoming space full of charm and warmth. If you're lucky enough to live near Kleinburg or enroute to the McMichael, count yourself lucky. If not, Villaggio may actually be worth the trip.

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