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Neighbourhood: Little Italy
Address: 691 Corydon Ave
Phone: 204-453-4616
Entrees: $9-$24

(Editor’s Note – This business is no longer open.)

During summer, the Corydon strip overflows with people vying for alfresco dining tables. At Civita, a small front patio serves the primary pastime of people watching, but its side patio, hidden from the buzz of the street, is the ultimate outdoor experience.

This contemporary Italian spot has been quietly building a fan base after a team of young entrepreneurs took over two years ago. Civita is the city pioneer of ‘wood oven cuisine’, providing crispy pizzas since 1989.

Walking into the building, a window reveals Chef Mark Andrew hustling around the huge wood-fired oven in the kitchen. Its dome-shaped masonry creates evenly distributed heat to bake thin-crust pizzas.

The narrow dining room is cozy with dim recessed lighting, dark wood and an earthy colour palette. Smooth jazz rounds out the elegant mood. Natural light filters through the French doors leading to the private courtyard, where fresh blooms create a secret garden vibe.

Since Civita also supplies food to next-door Red Cactus Lounge, appetizers are both hearty and elegant. For indecisive minds, the urban picnic is a menu highlight that allows diners to mix and match choices of appetizers, salads and pizzas at a lower price.

The pound of steaming mussels arrives coated in a thick boozy glaze of brandy and stock, and is crowned with thin, crispy yam fries. A drizzle of bright curry mayonnaise adds a touch of heat.

The mushroom flatbread is a treat with a meaty blend of juicy wild fungi piled with sweet caramelized onion. Slices of creamy brie punctuate every bite. Crêpes are creatively stuffed with savoury duck breast, which is balanced with hints of goat cheese, mint and a pucker-worthy sun-dried cherry balsamic reduction.

Civita’s grilled Caesar offers a rare spin on the classic. A whole romaine heart is served charred around the edges. A roasted garlic dressing complements the smoky lettuce.

Thin and crispy pizzas come on either Italian herb or whole-wheat crust, both infused with a woodsy aroma. The ‘Civita’ offers a twist with its basil pesto base. Salty capicolla ham and artichoke are offset by the sweetness of onion and sun-dried tomato. The buttery fullness of brie cheese comes through at the end.

Grilled beef tenderloin is eight ounces of simple perfection with cracked black pepper and bursts of sea salt melting into the juices. The angel hair pasta is full of tangy olives, chunks of grilled chicken and gently toasted pine nuts, but a thick parmesan cream sauce mellows the flavours.

Civita is open Sun-Wed 11:30 am-10 pm, Thu-Sat 11:30 am-11 pm.

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