Words by Tara Pepper

Where I decide to go for dinner sometimes depends on how I’m feeling; it could be a craving or just wanting to go somewhere for a great meal in a cozy atmosphere. When it’s the latter, there’s no better place than Aielli Ristorante in Port Credit. Bobby and I stumbled upon it one September evening during the Southside Shuffle many years ago and have been coming back ever since. The restaurant has been here for 30 years, and I can always count on it for consistency.

Aielli is a beautiful spot. I love the European feel, with its muted colours and painted murals; I always feel like I’m in someone’s house when I’m there. Our server, Carolyn, was so friendly, bubbly and honest that I knew we were going to have a good night.

The wine list is quite extensive; they have a huge wine cellar with a choice for every taste and budget. We started with an exquisite bottle of 2010 Farina Amarone della Valpolicella ($70); it was full and smooth, made the upcoming great meal even better.

Appetizers ($6–14) run the gamut of taste and desire. Bobby and I decided to have the same thing: we opted for the “Trust the Chef” three-appetizer special, and asked if we could each have different selections, so that we could taste six different items—and what a great idea that turned out to be!

Two long dishes divided into three sections were brought to the table. We had insalata di mare with shrimp, calamari, mussels and marinated vegetables. Next was Caprese salad with tomatoes (unfortunately it’s not the season for tomatoes to be at their finest), red onions, cucumbers, baby mozzarella and basil with an olive oil drizzle. Then there was the mushroom medley salad, which I think was my favourite: fresh mushrooms saut?ed in garlic, thyme and olive oil over wilted greens with a salty Parmesan goat cheese crumble. There was smoked salmon with cucumbers, Chorizo sausage with candied apples and caramelized onions, and finally the house-made Aielli Terrine: veal, pancetta, chicken liver and herbs served with a red currant, port and orange compote. Delizioso!

The mains were a challenge—but only because there are so many great offerings, including pizza ($14), pasta ($16–20), fish, chicken, veal, pork and duck (which is delicious, by the way; I once had it for my birthday dinner). Bobby decided on the osso buco special ($32). The huge portion of veal shank had a satisfying chew and a mild flavour, and was served with a spoon to savour the delicate marrow. The mushroom risotto was scrumptious with deeply satisfying truffle flavours—I could go back just for that, and I can honestly say that I haven’t tasted one nearly as good in ages!

I opted for the veal scaloppini Napolitano and was delighted at the tasty tenderness of the thick-cut veal. It was served with oven-baked pasta and a flavourful tomato sauce that tasted like Nonna made it. It was very good. Perfectly prepared broccoli, carrots and zucchini rounded out the plate. What a great dinner!

The service was exceptional, even though the restaurant was packed that night. Carolyn knew just how much wine to pour each time, allowing us to enjoy it throughout the meal. And she knew just when to stop by our table to update us on the progress or answer our questions—hats off to her, she was great! All of the servers took turns to help each other out, whether it was to whisk away finished dishes or to refill water glasses. They were unobtrusive yet efficient, and they really took care of us.

For dessert, it was hard to decide between all the housemade offerings, but I chose the mascarpone ricotta cheesecake, which was very dense and had the right amount of sweetness, courtesy of the blueberry sauce. Bobby had the rum cr?me br?l?e which turned out to be perfectly creamy (not runny, as some are) and the topping cracked and crunched exactly as it should. It was delectable.

So there you have it, anotherMississauga gem. Whether you’re looking for a light pizza dinner or a full-on dining-out experience, venture out to Aielli—I know you’ll be pleased you did!

Aielli Ristorante
286 Lakeshore Rd. E.