Cafe La Scala

Neighbourhood: Corydon Village
Address:
725 Corydon Ave
Phone: (204) 474-2750
Entrees: $18-$37

A cook-in-training watches as Chef Perry Scaletta teaches the finer points of setting the perfect table.

All cutlery must be perfectly aligned with their counterparts across the table; wine glasses must be placed above and slightly to the right of the knife; and table linens must be ripple-free.

The trainee is learning the Cafe la Scala way: how to take command in the kitchen, of course, but also in the dining room as a server and amiable host.

Getting to know his customers and sharing his story is also Chef Perry’s way inside his café, a few steps below the bustling Corydon sidewalk.

Two decades ago, he started working at the cafe; two years later he bought the restaurant, initially wanting a place to serve cappuccinos.

Fortunately for us, he learned to cook.

Cafe la Scala’s modernized Italian menu is quietly confident; neither bombastic nor brash. Chef Perry relies on the fundamentals of outstanding cuisine—fresh, local and innovative ingredients, creative preparation and artful presentation—to do the talking.

Where other chefs revel in complex compositions, Chef Perry’s presentations are modest yet memorable. A fan of roast potatoes, a spray of grilled vegetables, a small nest of pasta and a cinnamon-dusted dessert are all tastefully restrained.

Each bite of the baked portobello mushroom stuffed with creamy cambozola and roasted red peppers is an earthy delight.

In La Scala’s signature salad, arugula is tossed lightly in lemon and honey, placed on top a plate-side sweep of balsamic vinaigrette and dressed with roasted pine nuts, freshly grated asiago and chopped roma tomatoes. The acidity of the balsamic is nicely tempered by the honey’s smoothness.

Hints of dill and licorice resonate in the smoked salmon and tiger prawn linguine, as does the Dijon in pasta alfredo with grilled chicken.

For those who avoid lamb: Don’t do it here. Served as a special, La Scala’s version—a New Zealand rack of lamb with rosemary and thyme in a port demi-glace—is superb. An initial searing on the hot grill scores and seals the rosemary infusion. Finished in the oven, three pieces of medium-rare meat are as succulent and tender as filet mignon without the gamey flavours of lesser quality lamb.

Desserts, which are all house-made, also have their say at Cafe La Scala. A flourless chocolate torte is a satisfying but not too sweet goodbye.

A visit from Chef Perry is always part of an evening at La Scala. As good as the gems that come from his mouth, they’re nothing compared to the ones that go into yours.

Cafe la Scala is open Mon-Wed 11 am-11 pm, Thurs-Sun 11am-2 am.