There’s a new culinary star on the horizon in Regina, and foodies-in-the-know in the Canadian plains are are rejoicing.
Fortuna Ristorante Italiano, the city’s first authentically Italian restaurant, is the brain child of five second-generation Italian immigrants. Partners Pasquale (Pat) Fiacco, Joe Fiorante, Vince Fiorante, Carlo Giambattista, and Enio Ricci were boyhood friends who wanted Regina to enjoy the genuine Italian flavors served in their mother’s kitchens. Their dream has become Fortuna Ristorante Italiano, a sleek, modernistic restaurant serving some of the most delicious Italian food outside of Italy.
Realfoodtraveler.com recently had the opportunity to sample some of Fortuna Ristorante Italiano’s fare before the restaurant’s official opening and I predict this authentic eatery, under the capable culinary leadership of award-winning Italian Executive Chef Gianni Pioggio, will put the Saskatchewan province firmly on Canada’s culinary map and rival Italian restaurants in larger cities like Vancouver and Montreal.
Key to Fortuna’s success is Chef Gianni, a recent transplant from Italy and Certified Master Chef of Italian Cuisine who uses recipes like his father’s 70-year-old gelato formula paired. He pairs those closely-guarded family recipes with the best locally-sourced and imported ingredients to create memorable dishes like his signature gnocchi. His Gnocchi al funghi, fluffy pillows of potato pasta served with a bright, fragrant fresh basil pesto, is the best gnocchi this reviewer has ever tasted. But I get ahead of myself.
We began our meal, served family style, with an array of creative and tasty appetizers: Crispy bruschetta, thin slices of Italian bread topped with sweet diced tomatoes, basil shreds, garlic, and olive oil; Bresaola rughetta, delicate slices of Italian dried cured beef served with peppery arugula and shaved Reggiano Parmesan cheese; ultra-creamy slices of a goat cheese alternating with slices of sweet orange served on a bed of arugula (my favorite salad of the night); and tiny puff pastry cups filled with a creamy, earthy mousse of porcini mushrooms, parmesan, and béchamel.
The restaurant makes all their bread in-house and the servers brought big baskets of freshly sliced Italian bread served with a salty, tangy olive tapenade and delightfully soft and slightly salty fococcia bread topped with sweet and thinly sliced and slightly crunchy onion.
The restaurant also serves only fresh pasta, all of it cooked to order. In addition to the Chef’s excellent gnocchi, we sampled his linguine with pink lobster sauce, which is impressively served with the whole lobster carcass alongside the al dente pasta, chunks of sweet lobster meat, and a slightly spicy sauce. We also sampled chef’s mushroom risotto, which has just the right creaminess and chewiness and a rich mushroom flavor.
Our final entrée was succulent and moist butterfly Cornish game hen. The bird’s skin was satisfyingly crispy and was served with a creamy green pea sauce and perfectly roasted potatoes.
The meal ended with three of the chef’s house made gelato flavors – chocolate, lemon, and crema – served in tiny, dark chocolate cups. While I loved the rich and creamy gelato, I felt the lemon flavor, in particular, was so delicate I wanted to taste it outside of the flavor of the chocolate cup. I suggest the restaurant offer their delightful gelato both with or without the chocolate serving cups.
We washed our meal at Fortuna down with demi cups of super smooth and rich espresso made with Italian beans and brewed with the restaurant’s wonderful espresso maker from Italy. It was a delicious end to a first-class Italian meal.
Since my preview visit to Fortuna Ristorante Italiano, the restaurant has opened to the public. It may take some time to educate Regina palates away from chain restaurants like Olive Garden. But those who really love Italian food will be pleased at the authentic offerings of this bold new restaurant. – Reviewed by Bobbie Hasselbring
Fortuna Ristorante Italiano
3215 E. Quance St.
Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Want another great place to eat in Regina, Saskatchewan? Check out our review of Italian Star Deli.