It might just be Ottawa's most unpretentious top-notch restaurant. With a culinary philosophy based on modern interpretations of classic dishes, town co-owner Marc Doiron is delighting diners with his efforts to, as he says, "drop-kick Italian food into the 21st century."
Marc's wife and partner Lori Wojcik designed town's sleek, soothing space with a muted palette that serves as the perfect backdrop to the gastropub's vibrant food.
Also at the helm in the kitchen is accomplished Chef Steve Wall, familiar to many Ottawans for his highly-lauded stints at several top eateries over the past decade. "I am the dreamer," confesses Marc, "and Steve is the technician who makes it all shine."
With a menu that changes regularly to reflect the best of the season, town emphasizes simple, fresh preparations that don't need a lot of explanation. Meatballs are elevated to an art form when stuffed with homemade ricotta and served in a lightly-cooked San Marzano tomato and fresh basil sauce. The gnudi are delicate little pillows enlivened by a coarse basil and lemon pesto. Salads are flavourful and bright; daily specials are unfailingly enticing. Also on offer is a selection of Italian cocktails, as well as a wine list that includes excellent Italian and Canadian options.
Marc's background as a successful pastry chef is evident in town's sublime desserts, which include a beautiful buttermilk panna cotta, creamy arborio rice pudding and silky budino with contrasting crunchy topping. "It's chocolate pudding for grownups," says Lori.
Marc and Lori's quest to have their own restaurant stems from years of wonderful dining experiences all over the world. "A favourite spot of ours is City Bakery in New York. Well, Ottawa is not a big city; it's a town - hence the name."
Whether you live or work downtown and want a new hangout for lunch, are looking for a great pre-theatre meal or just a spot for a relaxing, impressive culinary experience, town is sure to please. A recent guest was overheard remarking, "I feel like I'm at home." High praise, indeed!
town is at 296 Elgin Street (near Gilmour). Visit www.townlovesyou.ca or call 613.695.8696.