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Where to Eat Ottawa

Old World Italian: Allegro Ristorante

Allegro Ristorante in the heart of Little Italy

Allegro Ristorante in the heart of Little Italy serves up classic Italian fare.

Allegro Ristorante is a long-running Ottawa establishment that recently changed ownership. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is its chef, which means you too can sample the hearty Italian food Ottawans have been enjoying for 20 years. They offer all your Italian favourites: fettuccine in pesto alfredo, linguine with shrimp, tortellini and prosciutto in a mushroom sauce, and good old spaghetti carbonara. The service is exceptional, too. —Amy Allen
•422 Preston St., 613-235-7454, allegroristorante.ca

A Craving for Cocoa

New in town, Purdys Chocolatier makes delicious chocolates, truffles, and other sweet treats.

New in town, Purdys makes delicious chocolates, truffles, and other sweet treats.

You can’t go wrong with chocolate. A box of bonbons makes a perfect Valentine’s Day treat, be it for yourself or someone special. And what better way to dispel those winter chills than with a cup of hot cocoa made with fresh, high quality Belgian chocolate? Here, we highlight some of the best places to satisfy your sweet tooth.

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Starting From Scratch: Wilf & Ada’s

At Wilf and Ada's, delicious diner fare is made in-house from scratch.

At Wilf and Ada’s, delicious diner fare is made in-house from scratch.

After 20 years in business, the owners of Ada’s Diner, a beloved greasy spoon in Centretown, retired and sold the property to a new generation of restaurateurs. The location was reborn as Wilf & Ada’s and has been serving breakfast, brunch, and lunch ever since. Dishes are lovingly prepared from scratch wherever possible, using high quality products sourced from local suppliers. Popular choices include the hot chicken sandwich and the house-made sugar pie.
•510 Bank St., 613-231-7959. wilfandadas.com

Artisanal Flavour at Art Is In Bakery

At Art Is In Bakery, you'll find delicious artisan breads in a variety of flavours, including Dynamie cheddar jalapeño. (Photo: Kim Shumsky)

At Art Is In Bakery, you’ll find delicious artisan breads in a variety of flavours, including Dynamite cheddar jalapeño. (Photo: Kim Shumsky)

Bread is a staple of virtually every culture on earth, but Art Is In — as its name implies — makes it an art form.  Try the Dynamite cheddar jalapeno bread and their almond croissants. For a real treat sit in their casual restaurant and order one of the rich sandwiches on their menu. Built on a foundation of house-made bread, they’re packed with such luscious ingredients as slow roasted chicken, angus striploin, white truffle mayo, and Gruyère cheese. —Amy Allen
•250 City Centre Ave., Unit 112, 613-695-1226 ext. 801, artisinbakery.com

Contemporary Cuisine at Courtyard Restaurant

Situated in a historic building in the heart of the ByWard Market, Courtyard Restaurant serves up contemporary Canadian cuisine with international flavours.

Situated in a historic building in the heart of the ByWard Market, Courtyard Restaurant serves up contemporary Canadian cuisine with international flavours.

In the heart of the ByWard Market, the Courtyard Restaurant has been serving fine contemporary cuisine for over 30 years. Housed in a handsome limestone building that dates back to 1837, the restaurant exudes a comfortable, yet refined, ambience that is matched by chef Ian Reed’s menu. Here, you’ll find beautifully plated wild boar, pan roasted Pacific halibut, and bacon-wrapped elk striploin. —Amy Allen
•21 George St., 613-241-1516, courtyardrestaurant.com 
Map and reviews

5 Vegetarian Restaurants in Ottawa

BY AMY ALLEN

This hearty chili is just one of many tasty vegan dishes on offer at SimplyRaw Express. (Photo: Courtesy of SimplyRaw Express)

This hearty chili is just one of many tasty vegan dishes on offer at SimplyRaw Express. (Photo: Courtesy of SimplyRaw Express)

In this day and age, plenty of restaurants include at least one vegetarian item on the menu. But wouldn’t it be nice to sit down at a place where the entire menu caters to those who have foregone meat altogether? Well, never fear — the Ottawa region has plenty of delicious options for vegans and vegetarians.

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Rustic Charm at MeNa

MeNa serves up elegant, French-inspired cuisine in a cozy, rustic setting.

MeNa serves up elegant, French-inspired cuisine in a cozy, rustic setting.

Named for owner Bryan Livingston’s wife, MēNa serves French-inspired cuisine in a cozy setting. With an emphasis on small menus and portions, the restaurant delivers such delicious options as lamb leg, arctic char, pork shoulder, beef flank, and corn flan with gnocchi. They also have a sommelier on hand to explain the wine menu and make pairing suggestions. —Amy Allen
•276 Preston St., 613-233-6462, menarestaurant.com

Game, Set, Match: Real Sports Bar and Grill

Real Sports is a great place to take in the big game, or just kick back and relax with friends.

Real Sports is a great place to take in the big game, or just kick back and relax with friends.

Take in the big game at Real Sports Bar & Grill, where sporting events are displayed on a 27-foot big screen and 99 additional HD televisions. Part sports bar, part lounge, it’s the perfect place to not only catch the game on the big screen, but also catch up with friends. The extensive menu boasts traditional and upscale bar fare, and the patio and second floor terrace offer the opportunity to kick back and relax. —Amy Allen
•90 George St., 613-680-7325, realsports.ca/barandgrill
Map and reviews

Pizza on the Go: Fiazza Fresh Fired

(Photo: David Irvine)

Fiazza specializes in fresh, custom-made pizzas. (Photo: David Irvine)

Fiazza Fresh Fired is one of the newest restaurants in town. Start by choosing your sauce (red san marzano and alfredo are among the options), then pile it up with cheese (offerings range from blue to goat to vegan). After that, select your toppings, which run the gamut from traditional (pineapple, naturally smoked bacon) to unusual (truffle oil, arugula). —Amy Allen
•86 Murray St., 613-562-2000, fiazza.ca

Pancho Villa in Ottawa

Pancho Villa is a cozy restaurant that offers hearty Tex Mex and unique cocktails.

Pancho Villa is a cozy restaurant that offers hearty Tex Mex and unique cocktails.

Small, cozy, and nestled under an apartment building on Elgin Street, Pancho Villa has traditional Mexican fare on offer. Burritos, tacos, quesadillas, and enchiladas stuffed with beef and chicken dominate the menu, but vegetarians and vegans will also find something here to enjoy. Round off your meal with a southern-themed cocktail — try the Pina Colada or the Acapulco Sunset — and a delicious serving of deep fried ice cream. —Amy Allen
•Pancho Villa, 361 Elgin St., 613-234-8872
Map and reviews

Pizza With Flair: ZaZaZa

ZaZaZa offers gourmet pizza with an assortment of unusual toppings.

ZaZaZa offers gourmet pizza with an assortment of unusual toppings.

Yet another brainchild of local restaurateur Ion Aimers, ZaZaZa offers thin crust pizza made with fresh dough, fresh sauce, and an assortment of unusual toppings. Guests are first asked to choose a crust (cornmeal, honey oat, or gluten-free); they can then peruse the playbill menu, which boasts such flamboyant pizzas as the Bleekinator (mozzarella, tomatoes, bacon, and parmesan), Lover’s Leap (mozzarella, pepperoni, hot Italian sausage, tomatoes, and black olives), and the Scary Roommate (mozzarella, kraft dinner, hot dogs, cheddar, and parmesan).
•1079 Wellington St. W., 613-798-9292, and three other locations. zazazapizza.com

Yangtze Dining Lounge in Ottawa

For more than 25 years, the Yangtze Dining Lounge has been cooking up some quality Cantonese and Szechuan cuisine.

For more than 25 years, Yangtze Dining Lounge has been cooking up some quality Cantonese and Szechuan cuisine.

Got a hankering for cheap yet tasty dim sum? Well, Yangtze Dining Lounge can hook you up. The place has been an institution in Chinatown for more than 25 years, and its menu is packed with spring rolls, assorted soups, noodle bowls, meat dishes, and plenty of options for vegetarians. It offers both Cantonese and Szechuan cuisine, and you can sit in or take out. —Amy Allen
•700 Somerset St. W., 613-236-0555. yangtze.ca
Map and reviews