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Pizza at Da Santino
Foods from Da Santino

2018 Jun 28
Da Santino has closed and Casa Mexico has moved into the space.

2012 Jan 20
I should mention an update here too: A coworker (who had also had a mediocre experience at our xmas lunch) revisited this restaurant with his wife this week. He said things were markedly better on this second visit!

They had different (better) bread and he really enjoyed his Seafood Linguine. This makes me want to go back and try their mains again at a less busy time.

EDIT: My other coworker, who *works* at Da Santino , shed some light on this. It seems the owner "refreshed" a bunch of staff positions since xmas. That might certainly explain some of the improvement!

2012 Jan 20
I've been here twice, both visits too long ago for me to remember exactly what I had -- except for the zucchini sticks, which were too good to be able to forget. I'll echo the other commenters in here and say that they are the best I've had. They taste fresh, come in a huge pile, and are really well-seasoned. It's worth dropping by this place just for a drink and a plate of them, if you're in the area.

Like I said, I can't remember what I've eaten there (I think a classic spaghetti and meatballs once, and maybe a penne arrabiatta with ital. sausage another time), but I do remember being really happy with it. They do standard Italian fare very, very well and offer a few more novel options on their menu, too.

The place isn't in the most inviting area or building, but once you're inside, you forget all about that. It's really well-decorated and feels like a modern, classy spot to eat. Service has been great each visit.

2011 Dec 20
I visited as part of a group of 30'ish for our work xmas party. Full disclosure: one of our employees moonlights as a server at this restaurant.

The atmosphere is suburban fine dining, dark wood, tasteful decor, and wine-themed paintings on the walls. The pleasant and comfy interior belies the drab strip mall face presented to Merivale Road.

Service was friendly, efficient, competent in every way. Dishes were cleared professionally. Water was refilled as needed. Separate forks for apps and mains, three different knives for steak vs. chicken vs. pasta, a spoon brought for those eating spaghetti. It's these small things that take this place up a notch from your standard American-Italian eatery.

Food was somewhat hit and miss. As the misspelled "proscuitto" on the online menu suggests, you will not be fooled into thinking you're visiting Italy.

Here's what I tasted:

* Bread - A chewy-sweet bread topped with crisped onion. Tasty if you don't mind the sweetness, but not what you would normally expect at an Italian restaurant. Served with butter.
* Cinzano - I test Italian restaurants by ordering a Cinzano with correct pronunciation "chin-TZAH-no" not "sin-ZA-no". Also, it's the best aperitif in the frigging world. My order was understood right away -- you'd be surprised how many places don't get this. The glass was small with lots of ice, but even a small Cinzano is a good Cinzano. :-)
* Zucchini Sticks - Unusually thin strips of zucchini, lightly seasoned, breaded, and fried. Absolutely spectacular! Best zucchini sticks I've had.
* Bruschetta - Again, really nicely done. Well-toasted baguette slices, topped with a perfect blend of chopped tomato and garlic. Again, top marks!
* Chef's Salad - A refreshing and tasty blend of fresh greens and veggies. Nice sweet balsamic dressing. A worthy addition to your meal.
* Chicken Parmigiana - This was the big disappointment. A thin cutlet of chewy chicken, topped with a bland mixture of tomato sauce and excessive melted mozzarella. The accompanying spaghetti marinara made me weep on behalf of Italy. Overcooked spaghetti and the same sweet-bland tomato sauce. The dusting of parmesan powder offered by our server was the final insult to this cafeteria style mess. This is all about context and expectation: if I got this dish for $7 at the IKEA cafeteria I'd be thrilled. For $19 at an Italian restaurant? Disappointing. That said, SP rated it better than his recent experience at Giovanni's.
* Grilled Angus Striploin - I didn't try it but feedback from others suggested this thin steak was just okay. I did get to sample some of the accompanying mashed butternut squash and it was very nicely seasoned.
* Tiramisu - A generous and fresh tasting zabaione-mascarpone component made this dessert a success. For top marks, I would have liked the espresso, brandy, and amaretto to be more noticeable.
* Espresso - Absolutely top notch coffee! Really no need for sugar. Also, the cappuccinos and lattes looked silky and gorgeous. Microfoam nirvana! Served with a classy crunchy Amaretto di Saronno.

So all in all an enjoyable meal, but take the mains with a grain of salt. Or make a meal of appetizers! :-)

2011 Apr 15
I was here today for lunch with a party of 10.

First of all I was surprised how nice the restaurant was inside the old strip mall on merivale.

We were given fresh bread to start with and it was pretty good. The orders took a while to come out (35+ minutes) but since we are a large group, that is OK in my book, especially since the waitress was very attentive, filling up glasses of water before they got empty. I personally had the lunch-size eggplant parmigiana. It's only the second time i've had this dish, and the first one was made at home. This one was excellent! The eggplant was nice and soft, and baked with a thick layer of cheese. Came with a side of spaghetti with tomato sauce which was also good. Most of the people I was with had good things to say about their meal.

I will probably be back someday and order the dinner size eggplant parmigiana!

2011 Mar 2
I was at Da Santino on the weekend and I was not impressed with the taste of the appetizers at all.
Presentation was nice and I find the prices very high. And usually a caesar salad comes with dressing. I found that the waitress never filled the bread baskets and I didn't like the fact that you had to go downstairs to the washrooms. Not cleaned either.Not enough space to get to the washroom if you're with a walker. Service was very slow.

2010 Nov 2
Went for lunch with the wife, Wonderful soup and sandwhich deal. Great way to test the waters. I enjoyed very much the Stracciatella soup and meatball sandwhich. Came back for Dinner the following week. Zucchini app is unreal, perfect breading, not overly salted which happens a lot, seasoned perfectly. Service was a wee bit slow, but it's perfect if your having more than one course and enjoying your company. Had an incredible veal dish with market veg.

Would definalty go back again, and think this place is giving the old guard on preston a run for their money. Better than La Roma, Ciccio's and Giovanni's. Definately a step up from a trattoria but not to far formal to be pretentious and uncomfortable.

2010 Sep 2
@snoopy loopy:
Moretti is a beer not a wine.

2010 Sep 2

@ksw: Oh that's cool! You learn something new every day.

On that revised bit of info the Quattro pizza was well-topped and presented then.

Theirs was artichokes, prosciutto, some type of mushroom, and I think the fourth was olive, but I am not 100% certain.

My only downside with the pizza would be that sauce and cheese were a little bit bland, but the pizza dough was quite lovely.

Also honesty forces me to clarify that though the location speaks "pleasant neighbourhood restaurant" to me, they may in fact be striving higher, in which case the price ranges are in line with what one would expect.

2010 Sep 2
Er... you mean glass? Or that has got to be the cheapest bottle of wine I have ever seen on a menu!



2013 May 2
I have to say that when I ordered the $17.00 pizza, I was expecting an overpriced version of what you typically find here in Ottawa. Big surprise when it got to the table, the toppings were high quality, albeit a bit sparse, the sauce was slightly sweet, the cheese was proportionate, but what blew me away was the THIN crust. crispy, but not charred on the outside, but a good chew as well. It probably could have been shared, I had half to take home for tomorrow's lunch, but it probably could be handled by three typical foodies if they get an appetiser first. Yum!

2010 Jun 18
The same thing crossed my mind Ken. For all that it was authentic and wonderful, I wish that chef@heart had described it more.

2010 Jun 18
chef@heart when you say authentic from which part of Italy is it considered authentic since they make different pizza in different parts of the country.

2010 Jun 18
If you want to try the most authentic Italian Pizza you will find in have to go here. Its hidden in a little plaza between clyde/merivale across from old CTV. I have never tasted pizza in Canada like this, the only other place you will find this pizza is if you go to Italy. I definalety recc and I am definately going back. The service was ok...not over the top, they could probably work on that a bit


2013 May 2
Had a dinner with fiancée earlier tonight and as she has a soft spot for fried zucchini, I took heed of the comments for this restaurant and wanted to taste for myself. No disappointment here! Both of us ate the large portion of thinly cut strips of the benign vegetable. They really season the breading well with perhaps a bit too much salt, but it makes you dive into the garlic based dip that tempered and complimented it well. Reminds me of what they used to serve at Hemmingway's years ago. Closest to this now might be Pocco Pazzo in Kanata. Wish I had taken a picture, but had already wolfed it all down before I realised my blunder...oh well, will give me a reason to go back. I DID get pics for the rest of the meal, and will post accordingly.