da Maurizio Dine Around

Originally posted June 20, 2010

Summer is here, and what better way to kick off the best season in Halifax than hit up a fine dining establishment to take advantage of Dine Around? The girls and I decided on da Maurizio in the beautiful and historic Keith’s brewery building. There is no other way to describe the cuisine at da Maurizio than almost painfully traditional Italian fine dining. Unfortunately there were light showers happening that evening and we could not move the reservation to the patio. Nonetheless we enjoyed the superb service and classic cuisine indoors.

Much to my delight there were several choices for each course on da Maurizio’s Dine Around offering, and keeping in the then upcoming Catch Festival spirit, a large majority were seafood. I chose the flash fried calamari with tomato, garlic and crushed chilis. The calamari was perfectly done, not a second over-cooked, deliciously tender flesh and a light and crunchy batter. The rich tomato sauce and fresh squeezed lemon made a simple and tasty topping. The only disappointing factor was the dried parsley scattered across the classic round white plate.

Another option – which I taste tested from my neighbour’s plate – the Fresh mussels sautéed with garlic, onions, chilis, white wine, leeks, tomato and fresh herbs, topped with crusty bread – was also fresh and delicious, however, must have included several more chilis than the calamari, as there was a surprising (and highly enjoyable) kick.

My entree – the spice crusted salmon filet, pan seared, finished with lemon and cucumber-basil yogurt – was nothing less than I expected. Perfectly seared salmon on top of creamy mashed potatoes, accompanied with broccolini, asparagus and carrots – the classic accompaniment and presented in the classic way. The only thing that was not traditional about this dish was the yogurt finish. Here I was thinking I had tried Atlantic salmon in almost every way possible when a new and delicious yogurt topping slaps me in the face. I enjoyed the freshness of the cucumber and tartness of the yogurt immensely, a nice way to offset the rich and oily taste of the salmon.

As far as the wine goes, honestly, the list was more pricey than I had even anticipated. Not being in the mood to drop some serious cash on a few nice bottles, most of us opted for a glass of the cheapest red ($8) which was a malbec, and excuse me for not remembering from where, although I know it was a hot climate, perhaps Spain. One of my dining companions did order a rhubarb martini from the drink menu which looked absolutely delicious and was served in a very non-traditional low-ball glass.

I rarely eat dessert and even more rarely would I order tiramisu, however, we were in an Italian joint and I felt it my duty to test this classic dish here of all places. It is served in a martini glass, on top of a doily, on top of a round, white plate. Although the tiramisu itself was tasty, and made in the traditional way, and was a nice finish to my meal, I feel if food could talk this poor, tired looking little dessert would scream out “please, stop serving me on a doily, and change it up already – try something new!!!”.

Raging desserts aside, this was another great girls night out with a highly enjoyable meal in one of Halifax’s long-standing, reputable, and very classy fine dining establishments.

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