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Neighbourhood: Corydon
905 Corydon Avenue
Phone: (204) 478-1872
Entrees: $10-$19

(2009 review)

One of the latest additions to Corydon Village, Fazzo Bistro is a contemporary Italian restaurant that has quickly become one of the city’s trendiest eateries. Opened in February, Fazzo is already filled with regulars from the neighbourhood and is a hot spot for local foodies looking for exceptional cuisine in stylish surroundings.

With wavy, modern stainless steel lamps and high exposed ceilings, the former retail store has an urban loft feel. But, while the setting is sophisticated and sleek, the vibe is casual and relaxed. Candles provide warm light, and service is friendly and unpretentious. Owner Rhea Collison, longtime manager of Bar Italia down the street, clearly knows her Little Italy clientele.

Executive chef Norman Pastorin (formerly of Spuntino and the St. Charles Golf and Country Club) changes his “Italian-inspired” menu quarterly to accommodate local ingredients and the tastes of each season (though he keeps some faves like beef tenderloin Fiorentina and penne putanesca around to keep regulars happy). The dishes—some traditional and some modern—are simple, elegantly presented and packed with flavour.

The beef carpaccio is plated as it would be served in the heart of Italy. A pattern of thin slices of pink tenderloin fills the plate and is topped with some lightly dressed arugula, large grains of sea salt, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese—a classic combination of basic Italian ingredients. The result: salty, meaty goodness.

Lined up the length of a long, rectangular appetizer plate, scallops are seared to perfection. Tender creamed leeks, dollops of sweet tomato jam, and a rich balsamic reduction complement the scallops beautifully.

Traditional bruschetta has been given a few creative tweaks and is served three ways—each with toppings piled high onto toasted crostini. The mushroom ragu is moist and savoury. The artichoke and walnut is refreshing and light with a pleasant crunch. And the classic tomato basil is one of the best in town—with juicy tomatoes marinated in olive oil, fresh Italian herbs and garlic.

One of several great veggie entrées on offer at Fazzo, a thick slab of eggplant Parmesan arrives with some of its skin whimsically tied into a crispy pinwheel bough. Slathered with tart tomato sauce and covered with a divine blend of mozzarella and Parmesan, the eggplant is soft and juicy – with any trace of bitter slowly roasted away.

Tender slices of duck breast are accentuated by a well-balanced balsamic vinaigrette—lightly herbed and naturally sweetened with a touch of honey. Sides of seared confit of pork belly (fabulously fatty, salty and sinful), creamy potato pavé and char-grilled asparagus all add delightful complexity to the dish.

The more traditional cavatelli bolognese lets its ingredients do the talking. Plump little scrolls of hand-made pasta melt in the mouth and cradle a classic, old-country meat sauce made of chunky veal and beef slowly simmered with fresh herbs and sweet-acidic tomatoes. As if to underline the freshness and simplicity of the dish’s ingredients, a few wonderfully ripe tomatoes are crushed slightly and simply tossed on top.

A generous cut of sablefish provides a contrast in textures. Its skin is fried crisp, while its flesh falls apart at the mere approach of a fork. Sweet and flaky, the fish pairs nicely with a red wine and caramelized cipollini onion reduction. To the side, the accompanying crushed new potatoes—with crisp pancetta adding salt and crunch—are reminiscent of summer picnics.

Fazzo’s standout mushroom risotto, velvety and earthy, rounds out the dish.

Fazzo is open Mon-Fri 11am-11pm; Sat 8 am – 3 pm and 5 pm – 11 pm; Sun 8 am-3 pm.

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