Nestled in the neighbourhood of River Park South is one of Winnipeg’s best restaurants, Harth Mozza & Wine Bar. It’s a spot for traditional Italian cuisine utilizing the highest quality local ingredients, where all the pastas are made fresh in-house, and the meats are cured onsite too.
On a recent special dining experience here with my friend Lyndsey McCormick, I asked Chef and Co-owner Brent Genyk about this restaurant that’s been open since 2017. For starters, why the location in a south suburban area?
“I grew up in the south end of the city and we could see that there was a void for a good neighborhood restaurant,” said Genyk. “We try and keep the restaurant approachable for those looking to pop in during the week and have a quick dinner and glass of wine, along with those that want to spend their evenings on the weekend over a multi course dinner with friends and family.”
Brent had previously worked at Bellissimo Restaurant in Lindenwoods (another top choice for me), and it hit me: If you build it they will come… and we certainly do!
The name Harth is derived from the word hearth, the centre of one’s home, a gathering place. I’ll explain why that’s the case during my exceptional dining experience.
Let’s talk about the space, which is very inviting, as was the intention of Fireside Design, the local firm who created it.
We entered through the bar/lounge and were greeted by front of house manager Anna and seated into the dining room in my favourite booth table surrounded by a wall of wines. The centrepiece is a wood-fired oven that cooks the pizzas, vegetables and meats. You’re encouraged to sit around the long counter that surrounds it to watch Chef Brent and the cooks in action as they put on a show.
This is going to sound weird, but one of the coolest features of Harth is the acoustics; it’s such a large wide-open space that you’d think having an intimate dinner would be too loud—but it’s not. It’s so comfortable to bring a friend or family member here to catch up with, as you can clearly hear each other within this beautiful room, even when it’s packed (as it often is).
Now let's get into the experience: What sets Harth apart from the rest is the team, the majority of whom have been here since the beginning and are very involved with development of the wine list and menu.
For dinner I specifically requested to be served by Emanuel Soares, who is absolutely the best. He is the culinary captain of your journey at Harth and I absolutely trust his judgement because he’s a specialist. Chef Brent and Emanuel orchestrated a multi-course dinner with wine pairings, starting off with a smooth pinot grigio before transitioning to a robust Tenuta dei Sette Cieli ‘Yantra’ Toscana. Emanuel brought out prosciutto di Parma, ahi tuna, bison tartare, and warm beets, romancing the menu as he takes time to explain the highlights of each dish.
If you can’t decide what to order at Harth, a fan favourite for groups is the alla famiglia set menu. At $60 per person it is great value, while the restaurant ensures you get some of the best dishes from the kitchen, from starters, to a pasta course, a meat course, and of course, dessert.
Now onto the main event of dinner. Emanuel told me that they had been preparing something very special that they've done at Harth only a couple of times—the Parmigiano wheel cacio e pepe.
We were so excited to see Emanuel rolling up to our table with 100 lbs of imported Parm from Italy. First he prepped the wheel with grappa, then heated it with a butane torch. He then placed a large portion of freshly made linguini into the melted Parm, coating each strand with salty, cheesy goodness while we watched salivating. It is an experience I've never seen in-person before.
Emanuel plated the pasta beautifully, grating more Parm to top it off. The taste I can only describe as a heavenly, once-in-a-lifetime experience. We capped off dinner with the best dessert combo, panna cotta and some zeppole (an Italian doughnut). It was seriously one of the best dinners I’ve ever had.
As you can tell, the attention to detail and behind-the-scenes work of the kitchen at Harth does not go unnoticed.
The easiest way to make reservations at Harth is to shoot them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org I highly recommend it for both special occasions or just a good catch up with a close friend.