Hicks Weekly Dish: Sorrentino's Mushroom Harvest Festival BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2017
Downtown – 10162-100 St. – 780 424 7500
South – 4208 Calgary Trail – 780 434 7607
West – 6867 170 St. – 780 444 0524
Little Italy – 10844 95 St. – 780 425 0960
Stony Plain – 108 Genesis Drive – 780-591-2121
Bistecca Italian Steakhouse – 2345 111 St. – 780 439 7335
Food: 4 of 5 stars
Ambience: 4 of 5 stars
Service: 3.5 of 5 stars
Festival dinner for two without tip or beverages, $60 basic, $90 loaded.
September may mean back-to-school, frosty nights, shorter days and the (sigh) end of summer.
But for so many Edmonton families, there’s still joy is Mudville thanks to the traditional, September-long Sorrentino’s Mushroom Harvest festival.
A tradition? Of course! The special one-month-only mushroom menu at all six Sorrentino’s area restaurants plus Bistecca, has been around for 23 years. Many a dining group – be they relatives, friends or associates – never miss a festive evening of mushroom-based dining.
In a minor departure from tradition, this year’s festival menu was assembled by Sorrentino’s Downtown master chef Alberto Alboreggia rather than Sorrentino’s executive chef Sonny Sung. Meanwhile, Sorrentino corporate chef Chris Hrynyk has come up with a mighty ground-sirloin and mushroom truffle burger as part of the festival and for the Skip The Dishes’ Burger Week.
It’s difficult to go astray when picking from the Mushroom Festival menu – variations of which are at all Sorrentino restaurants. (The Little Italy location features its own mushroom dishes. “We do what our chef Maria Zaccaria does best,” says Little Italy Sorrentino’s Matteo Saccomanno.) The mushroom soup is legendary and unchanging. A mushroom salad mixes wild mushrooms with roasted chestnuts, olives and fresh croutons.
Most polenta (a cornmeal starch) tends to be bland, but not this one, brought to vibrant life thanks to wild mushrooms, a provola cheese sauce and crispy pancetta (an Italian bacon).
And how can you go wrong with spaghettini, featuring prawns, portobello and oyster mushrooms, all liberally laced with mushroom truffle oil?
By popular demand, Sorrentino’s seven-kinds-of-mushroom ravioli squares are back, swimming in sage butter, pecorino cheese, and, of course, shaved truffle for that final decadent touch. If I was dieting (I ought to be) I’d exercise restraint at the Mushroom Harvest and only order the ravioli … with a bottle of Giusti chardonnay.
The two Mushroom Harvest entrees are both enticing and exciting – the pork tenderloin is crowned with a contradictory but delicious sweet/tangy Gorgonzola fig sauce. But the Icelandic salmon wins out, thanks to a mushroom and mozzarella crust over which is poured a smooth, subtle fonduta cheese sauce.
The festival features Italy‘s Giusti Wines, Joe Giusti being a successful Calgary contractor who returned to his native Italy to become one of the country’s largest independent wine-makers. Signor Giusti is the featured guest winemaker at a special Sorrentino’s Downtown truffle and wine dinner November 23. He’ll have fascinating stories to tell.
The festival has a number of special events (cooking classes, themed dinners, mushroom picking expeditions): Information and reservations at Sorrentinos.com.
Vivo Downtown has distressingly and unexpectedly shut its doors, at least temporarily, due to a financial crisis. This comes as a shock, since managing partner Gregg Kenny, general manager Ryan Borromeo and chef Medi Tabtoub have superbly presented and publicized the three-room Italian ristorante, taverna and pizzeria just west of Rogers Place and north of MacEwan University. May the team soon be back in business. Vivo Southwest is open.
Vivo chef Tabtoub is one of an all-star cast of Edmonton chefs competing in this year’s Gold Medal Plates Competition at the Shaw Conference Centre on October 12.
The lineup is stronger than ever, with the above-mentioned Alberto Alboreggia, Andrew Ihasz from the Renaissance Airport Hotel, Jan Trittenbach from Solstice, Levi Biddlecombe from Packrat Louie, Ryan Hotchkiss of Bundok, Shane Chartrand from Sage, Century Hospitality Group executive chef Tony Le, Chartier’s Steve Brochu and the Royal Glenora’s Steve Buzak. Food artists all! Tix and info at goldmedalplates.com (click on Edmonton).
Still in the running, in the Final Four of Avenue Magazine’s Burger Challenge, are hamburgers from the Downtown Diner, Jack’s Burger Shack in St. Albert, The Hat and Original Joe’s.
The winner – based on a reader vote – will be published in Avenue’s November edition.
In this column’s search for the perfect burger last year, Jack’s Burger Shack was the undisputed champ.