After pulling up to Packrat Louie’s, my date and I snag a parking spot six feet away from the front door. We practically waltz our way inside as beautiful sounds emanate from a violinist playing in the park across the street.
A burning candle greets us at a table for two beneath a window. The space presents an old-world, European feel with brick walls, a merlot coloured ceiling and a display made of wine corks.
We peruse the small but sophisticated menu and are torn between the antipasto and the Prawns Louie. Our waitress persuades us to try the latter and the presentation is superb. Four large prawns are enveloped in prosciutto, over a bed of arugula greens, with scoops of melon all around. The cantaloupe aioli makes the dish. It’s fresh, satisfyingly fruity and nicely balanced by the crunch of the cooked Italian ham.
After ordering our mains, we watch our pizza get placed into a wood-fire oven. It’s nice to see who’s preparing your meal with the open kitchen concept. In my mind, that suggests transparency.
The Fiorentina pizza came worthy of its Italian name. The chef didn’t skimp on any of the ingredients and the mozzarella left a line from the tray to each of our plates. Packed with garlic, cherry tomatoes and shrimp, it arrived fresh out of the oven, almost too hot to bite.
Last, but not least, we go for the Arctic char. Served with a jasmine and wild rice pilaf and small bites of buttery sweet potato, the maple sherry vinaigrette on top gave the fish a sweet, tangy kick that solidified this great Canadian dish. (10335 83 Ave., 780-433-0123, packratlouie.com)