bits and pieces

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Regina Reviews: Fortuna Ristorante: Buona fortuna? No, mediocre.

Fortuna Ristorante has been open for over a year, and has since established itself as a mid-range Italian restaurant in Regina's east end. Located on Quance, the old world eatery is open Monday to Saturday 11:30 am - close and Sundays from 5 pm - close. 

I ventured to Fortuna for a work party. Due to mixed reviews I'd been holding off visiting this addition to Regina's food scene. Additionally, over the past year I've been scaling back on my dining out. I've been disappointed this year by most of my meals out. Whether it was poor service or amazingly overcooked fish, I've just been down in the goshdarned dining out dumps. It's not cheap to eat out, and to spend money for a lame meal and/or disappointing service is frustrating and makes you feel like a dolt.

With that unnecessary prelude, I come to our meal at Fortuna.

Our large table gave me the advantage of sampling all of the appetizers and a good portion of the wine. Our jovial atmosphere also let me nibble at people's mains as well as sharing with my friends. It's great to have pals who share.

We started with frittura di pesce (an assortment of deep fried seafood), the scallops, the cold cuts plate, the bruschetta, the beef carpaccio, and the seasoned goat cheese. The seafood was actually very, very good - perfectly cooked and served with a lovely garlic aioli. The scallops were also very well cooked and well received by all. The cold cuts, bruschetta, and cheese were decidedly mediocre. They weren't bad but nothing 'sang' and our table agreed that it certainly didn't leave you wanting more, nor would you order it again. The bruschetta was decidedly missing flavour - whether it was under seasoned or the herbs weren't.. herbing, it was bland and underwhelming. Black mark number one - it's BRUSCHETTA. GET IT TOGETHER ITALIAN RESTAURANT. 

The beef carpaccio got mixed reviews. While my dining partner enjoyed his VERY much, mine was unpleasant. Mine had been either frozen, or had been chilled far too long. Biting into a thinly sliced piece of meat and having little frozen crystals crunch beneath your teeth is no fun. About half the plate was frigid but the other half was fine, leading me to wonder if their fridge was chilling inconsistently. The fine-half was, well, fine. The meat had very little taste.

For the mains most of our table ordered the filet mignon. My dining partner had the cornish game hen, I had the tuscan steak, my pal had the pasta with crab and seafood. We all sampled the gnocchis and the mushroom ravioli.

My steak was again - disappointing. It was a low grade of t-bone with lots (and I mean LOTS) of gristle. The seasoning wasn't particularly Tuscan and tasted mostly like Montreal steak spice with some oregano thrown in. However, I ordered it blue rare, and it was cooked blue rare. Unfortunately I couldn't eat it because it was 65% gristle. The filet mignon got mixed reviews and it's fair to say that no one loved it. As my boyfriend said: that's what you get for ordering steak at an Italian restaurant.

The crab pasta was outstanding and probably the best received dish of the night.

The cornish hens were found to be dry and lacking seasoning, even salt. . Not particularly good.

The gnocchis were good, but not exceptional. The mushroom risotto again was good, but not great. The gorgonzola gnocchi was missing something  whether that was salt or perhaps a bit of lemon to step up the flavour. It was heavy and sat on the palate before being cleared away, which is saying something as I love both gnocchi and blue cheese.

The desserts were all well received but again - not extraordinary.

I feel bad - this review so far seems to be down in the dumps. It wasn't a BAD meal. However, I was disappointed overall. For a restaurant that advertises its Italian chef based on his ITALIAN cooking skills and their homemade pasta, there was nothing that sang of Italy. The food was just as good or as bad as Italian food you'd order at a non-Italian restaurant. If...oh, I don't know. Earls did an average pasta dish, it would be on par with my experience at Fortuna.

The wine list was OK but not heavy on the Italian wines and not particularly mature. But hey - I'm not one to turn down any wine.

Despite a couple mix ups, the service was polite and efficient. The decor is oddly reminiscent of a hotel or 1990s Olive Garden-stereotype. Trailing fake ivy does not scream upscale or good branding to me. If they were going for campy they didn't reach far enough. If they were going for tasteful or paid someone to do the design, then it was not money well spent.

Nothing was BAD - although the frosty carpaccio was off putting - but for a restaurant owned by Italians, with backing by the Italian Star Deli and an Italian chef I was expecting it to be an enjoyable and authentic Italian party in my mouth as opposed to an underwhelming continental dining experience. For the price and experience I'd rather save my money and visit the underrated Taste of Tuscany (Scarth street mall!) or go to Pasta Prima and then make my own sauce at home.

I should note - I only went this one time, and likely won't be returning. Normally I go to a restaurant 2-3 times before posting a review, and in all fairness they could have been having an off night. However, the Urbanspoon shows mixed reviews as well. If I were in the east end and hungry the neighbouring Enso Sushi is much better and I'd rather spend my money there.

In my not-at-all expert recommendations I think Fortuna should pare down their menu - focus on the quality and simplicity of classic rustic Italian fare, and play up some key ingredients: think a poached egg with truffle oil on fresh angel hair pasta, or rustic handmade lasagna. And speaking of playing? Play up the campiness and tackiness of the fake ivy and throw some wine bottle candles on the tables, pipe in some opera, and throw a couple checkered table clothes on. EMBRACE IT. OR - go for upscale, modern Italian. Currently Fortuna finds itself in a barren and decidedly mediocre place. And I'm not just talking about its location in a strip mall.

food: 2/5
service: 3/5
overall experience: 2.5/5
Fortuna Ristorante is located at 3215 Quance Street,

As always, this is just my humble opinion, and you can always check out these restaurants for yourself! Have you been to Fortuna, what did you think? 


  1. Thanks for the comment re: Montreal - you got me even more excited!!!!

    I went to Fortuna once, and never went back. I too was disappointed and gave them a pretty poor review. I had the spaghetti and the noodles were overcooked, the meatballs were flavourful, but mushy, and the sauce was bland. I actually put a few dashes of balsamic into it just to give it some flavour.

    A friend found a piece of metal in her meatball (from a dish scrubber), and was only offered a desert to compensate. We were having a work lunch so didn't have time for dessert, and they only took $3 off of her bill.

    I thought the food was overpriced too, although I went when they were pretty newly opened, so this could have changed. They also had no lunch menu when I went.

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