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Be very, very quiet… I’m hunting risotto, Indecent Risotto. This operation is mostly found out in Westshore, but when they hit a farmer’s market or event in the City of Victoria proper, I’m there! Andrew Paumier and Shannon Moriarty are the fine folks in the truck, cooking up one of my favourite Italian fast foods. They source their ingredients locally and I suspect they also have a garden to harvest from for making their salads.
I’m glad this operation is mobile, otherwise just getting out to the boonies is not in the cards. They are frequently spotted in the Municipality of Sooke and out by Esquimalt Lagoon. Neither are easy to reach when I’m a Saanich boy at heart.
1101 4th Ave.
Once the ragin’ Cajun in me saw the Sazerac offered upscale Southern (Louisiana) inspired food, I knew I had to make this place a must during my next visit to Seattle! As I stay in different hotels, I like to explore what’s nearby instead of walking to another district for my usual grub. This city has more wide and varied tastes within reach in the downtown core than any other I’ve been to. While my knowledge is mostly centered around feasting in either Emerald City or Hollywood North, there’s a reason why I love living in the Pacific Northwest. The access to seafood is immediate and fresh.
I think both cities have eateries that are worthy of earning at least a star in the Michelin guide. That book is not the be all end all for diners looking for new and exotic tastes. At this place, their Buttermilk Panna Cotta is an Italian dish that I could eat forever! The strawberry foam settled upon my lips like an air nymph and I was sent to heaven with how added basil cream made my tongue dance. A symphony with little gelatinous berry nubs was playing hallelujah in my mouth!
Scoozis Bar and Grill
445 Howe St,
J: On a holiday weekend in Vancouver, one would think many places would still open for business given this city’s rather large population. Much to my chagrin, there were two options: Starbucks and a local Italian eatery called Scoozis. I bet you can guess what location I chose. And I’ll also bet you know how that decision turned out.
E: I recall having problems finding breakfast outside of my hotel from a previous trip. When I’m staying near the Vancouver Convention Center, it’s even worse. In this visit, especially when considering Canada Day was a few days ago, well it’s time to simply go for what’s open. I could have suggested a Vietnamese place that I tried years before, but I absolutely had no interest in returning there. Fortunately, the Italian flavour can have me shouting, “Che bello!”
1011 Broad Street
J: New Year’s day offers very few places for people to dine. Many of the city’s restaurants, cafés and bistros are closed up tight because there is probably very little money to be made in the tourist off-season. And they are probably correct, at least where downtown Victoria is concerned. After Christmas and Boxing Day, who really has money to dine? And what about those New Year’s hangovers?
But neither that or empty wallets appeared to deter people from going to Pagliacci’s. They are a local landmark on the restaurant scene for the last 34 years. Artists like Jim Byrnes (Highlander the Series, Beast Wars) have eaten here and even the great Etta James performed at Pag’s for their tenth anniversary. Even the owner, Howie Siegel is still a local celebrity. Originally, he was a Jewish kid from the Big Apple. Here at Pag’s, Howie brought a little of what makes New York City desirable into a little corner of the Inner Harbour.
603 Douglas St.,
The rustic flavour of the Old Spaghetti Factory is one of the main draws for some tourists. But for locals, you either love it or hate it.
Originally started in Portland, Oregon, the chain became popular and expanded to all ports at sea. For those people coming out of the Victoria bus depot or the Coho ferry, this restaurant may very well be the first place people can go to have a fast meal before heading off to other destinations unknown.