Edmonton’s Daniel Costa has opened his third restaurant. Uccellino is a casual Italian eatery located right next to its siblings, Corso 32 and Bar Bricco . Uccellino means “little bird” in Italian and the name reflects the lighthearted, fun atmosphere in this gorgeous, modern 80-seat space on 103 Street.
Costa is smart in allowing each of his restaurants to retain its own identity. The one thing that remains constant is the quality of the food. The food at Uccellino represents that which is found in central and southern Italy; the recipes are simple, uncomplicated, and exquisite.
Diners start with a complimentary bowl of citrus-marinated olives. Think you don’t like olives? You’ll change your mind after tasting these mellow, meaty orbs.
Here’s what we ordered:
Good food starts with quality ingredients and Daniel Costa never skimps on that. Using a great olive oil, good salt, smartly-raised proteins and produce accomplishes half the battle. Understanding flavour profiles and obtaining balance accomplishes the other half. These two dishes exemplify Costa’s approach to food: balance, restraint, integrity.
Bucatini cacio e pepe: A spaghetti-like pasta is liberally doused with salty sheep’s milk cheese and black pepper. Rich yet simple, and utterly divine. Two people can easily share the pasta dishes.
Maccheroni: Some of this luscious, intense, savoury ragu slips inside the pasta tubes making each bite packed with flavour. This dish will make me come back, no question.
Uccellino uses artisanal pastas imported from Italy, exclusive to the restaurant. They’re also for sale at the counter, along with some cookbooks on Italian food. So allow yourself a purchase or two then go home and release your inner Uccellino. Or, just let Costa keep feeding you, there’s no shame in that.
People who appreciate black cod (or sablefish as it is also called) are well aware of its attributes. Those who have aversions to things that swim, might want to take a chance on this one. Black cod is firm, silky, delicate and meaty all at the same time. It is everything a fish should be. The tangy tomato and hit of acidic caper cut through the richness of this buttery fish to make this a very solid choice if you’re not in the mood for pasta.
And then there’s dessert:
You wouldn’t think olive oil cake would work and certainly not olive oil gelato, but get thee to Uccellino an order this, stat. This cake will make you throw your head back, close your eyes and sing “Ah-MAYYYY-zing!” in a full soprano vibrato. The same is said for the Amedei Chocolate Budino, a custard-y cake that is deceptively light. You might even be tempted to order one to take home for later. If you like the chocolate torta from Corso 32, you’re going to go completely ga-ga over this one.
Uccellino provided a flawless experience: the food, the setting, and the service were all above par. Congratulations, Daniel Costa, on this splendid little bird.
For more details on the food, listen to my CBC restaurant review with Mark Connelly here.