It’s always a treat when we get to try out a new restaurant and even more so when that restaurant serves Italian cuisine—one of our absolute favourites.
Alena Rustic Italian has been on our restaurant list for a while, but with COVID constantly shutting things down over the last year and a half, we had to keep pushing our visit. This November, we finally visited this quaint spot located on Roblin Boulevard.
The moment you walk in you’re greeted with friendly smiles and that iconic Kal Barteski script on the wall. The space is modern and beautifully designed—a great spot for a date night or family birthday dinner. We definitely recommend making a reservation because it fills up quickly on the weekends.
We were super excited to see the list of specialty cocktails since it’s always fun to taste a twist on a classic cocktail. I ordered the Hugo because any time I see St Germain on the list of ingredients, I can’t not. Josh got the Spritz because he hates winter and the Aperol in it brought him back to warmer days. Both drinks were excellent and we enjoyed stealing sips from each other’s. They also have an extensive wine list and its cellar offers specialty bottles that are sure to impress the wine connoisseur in your party.
Okay, now for the food. We knew the moment we saw Garlic Butter Knots that we weren’t going to pass those up as an appetizer. And after tasting them, we definitely recommend that you don’t either! The best way I can describe these is like a savoury galicky donut. They absolutely melt in your mouth and the San Marzano marinara that they’re served with is the perfect accompanying dip. Seriously, if you’re only going to get one appetizer, let this be it.
We also had to try one of the wood-fired oven pizzas. We went with the Tre Carne and it was delicious. The Italian sausage gave it the perfect level of heat and the crust was done to perfection. We don’t often compliment a pizza crust, and we rarely finish it, but in this case we absolutely did. Pair a glass of red wine with it and it’s the perfect dinner.
Of course, being us, we’re not done dinner yet! Next up are the real entrees (I guess you could call the pizza our first entree or second appetizer.)
Whenever I’m at an Italian restaurant, I have to get their house pasta. It’s practically a sin not to. I went with Alena’s Little Ears because the eggplant cream intrigued me and I rarely see orecchiette pasta on a menu. Our server (who was fantastic by the way!) recommended to add shrimp and I think it really made the dish. I absolutely loved this pasta.
Josh had the Traditional Porchetta (pork roast) and let’s just say when I tried to steal a bite he fought me for it. His takeaway from it was how tender and well-seasoned the pork was—he even sent his compliments to the chef.
Speaking of the chef—Alena is under the guidance of Chef Michael Dacquisto, the chef who brought us 529 Wellington and Carne Italian Chophouse. He is a former gold medalist at Gold Medal Plates Winnipeg (now called Canada's Kitchen Party) and the city is lucky to have him!
Of course, no dinner is complete without dessert. If you’re a chocolate cake lover, like me, then the Chocolate Zucchini Cake is a must-order. It’s so decadent and will most definitely leave you in a food coma (in the best way possible!)
While this is by no means an extensive review of Alena Rustic Italian, we hope our awesome experience is enough to convince you to book a reservation and give it a try! COVID has hit our restaurant industry hard over the past 18 months and we encourage anyone who can to get out there and support our incredible restaurants.