I first visited Dolce Sapori in 2010. Located above Pulcinella in Kensington, the intimate space was drenched in red and purple. At the time, I thought the room was slightly garish, which is why on my visit tonight I am happily surprised to find the space has been renovated. Brightened with a coat of white paint, the restaurant feels more open and complementary to its sister space below.
But the décor is not the only thing that has changed. In keeping with Dolce’s family-style menu and innovative twists on Italian cuisine, the restaurant has partnered with local chef Kenny Kaechele (formerly of The Ranche, Divino etc.) to form a new menu that will change seasonally.
Arriving for our 7:30 p.m. reservation, we are whisked upstairs, where our host takes our coats and seats us at a comfortable two-top. We are brought two menus — the à la carte menu and a family-style menu.
We stick with the family-style menu. It’s quite similar to the à la carte options and better suited to our plans, but I should note that the à la carte menu does offer a unique selection of antipasti and would be a good choice for diners looking to explore a wider range of dishes.
I notice another new addition to both Pulcinella and Dolce Sapori in the form of Enomatic wine dispensers, featuring 40 individual glass pours that include eight white selections and 32 red options. We decide on the easy-drinking Livio Felluga Vertigo, a red from Friuli-Venezia Giulia ($12 per glass).
For our starter, my husband insists on the insalata caprese ($22). I’d had the dish on my last visit and was impressed. Tonight, it is even better. Served on a long platter drizzled with olive oil, this salad is abundant with the fresh mozzarella di Bufala (imported from Italy), vibrant sliced tomatoes and sprinkled with fresh basil, oregano and coarse sea salt.
Our server also brings a basket of warm foccacia and grilled flatbread dusted with herbs. It’s a nice nod to Pulcinella, and fantastic with our gorgeous salad.
For our pasta course, we choose the house specialty, ravioli stuffed with butternut squash and mascarpone ($25). Drizzled in a rich pistachio brown butter sauce, the five large discs of ravioli offer a delightful contrast between the sweetness of the squash and nutty richness of the sauce — a new take on a classic Dolce Sapori dish.
For our main course, I’m oh-so-tempted by the duo of lamb featuring a herb-crusted rack and a sous-vide shoulder with basil lamb jus ($45), but the bistecca Fiorentina ($42) comes so highly recommended (by both our server and host) that I give in.
This turns out to be a most fortuitous selection. The 32 oz. AAA prime rib steak melts in our mouths. Cooked to a perfect medium-rare, the beef is beautifully tender and juicy and the accompanying caper veal reduction is sinfully good. Featuring rustic chunks of smoky bacon, the sauce is rich and velvety, perfectly complementing the quality beef.
On the side we have an order of the grilled asparagus ($10), topped with generous shavings of salty parmigiano and roasted lemon. Cutting the richness of the dish, the citrus asparagus is fresh and cooked al dente.
To our surprise, there is one more side included on the plate — fresh, homemade potato chips. Believe me when I say that when the chips and veal reduction collide, a to-die-for flavour combination is born.
Rounding out our night at Dolce, we have the honey and lemon pannacotta ($9). Topped with orange preserves and a fennel seed streusel, the dish has a tart tang with a creamy finish. Definitely a refreshing way to finish a great meal.
All in all, our night at Dolce Sapori was a nice start to the new year. Our server, Rob, was friendly and helpful, and the manager checked in on us twice to ensure everything was up to snuff. Now open from Tuesday to Saturday with a talented chef and an updated space, Dolce Sapori is an excellent choice for a night out with the family or a night out on the town.