Ask for Luigi? Ask for More!

After our failed attempt to visit Ask for Luigi on the first try, Kitty and I finally returned to this corner restaurant on a sunny weekday and even brought along her boyfriend Kelvin this time. Do try to drive here, because commuting to Ask for Luigi is not necessarily the most convenient for diners. Due to its limited seating capacity, the restaurant accepts few reservations – however, you should still try to book in advance because waiting times can be up to an hour and a half.

Ask for Luigi was one of those restaurants with menus filled with sophisticated terms that, unless you were highly knowledgeable with Italian cuisine, required Googling almost every other minute. The dishes, unaccompanied with descriptions, also made understanding the menu even harder; but with the help of our smartphones, we were able to each pick out a pasta entrée and an appetizer (known as antipasti) to share. Gluten-free options are also available at this tiny Italian joint. When our waiter offered us options of carbonated (sparkling), distilling, or tap water, that really reminded me of our France/Italy trip back in 2010.

Our Pate Campagnola ($11) was beautifully decorated with sliced carrot, fennel, onions, honey mustard horseradish sauce, and dabs of what I believe to be tomato seeds. According to online sources, pâté campagnola is essentially a “spreadable dip… made from fresh pork shoulder and liver, scented with garlic, fresh parsley and black pepper, and bound with egg and onions”. The appetizer was a little small to be shared between 3 people, given the small amount of toasted bread we were provided with to accompany the spread. The embellishments were an interesting combination for me; even as I write, I am able to recall the sour, yet sweet aftertaste that the tomato seeds and honey mustard horseradish emanated. The spread itself was delicious, with fatty areas of pork – I must say, we all initially mistook the appetizer for a slab of luncheon meat.

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Before I begin writing about their pasta, there is without a doubt that I should inform you they “specialize in freshly hand made pasta (during dinner)”. For nearly the entire duration of our meal, every time I glanced over at their open-style kitchen, there would be someone using a rolling pin and rolling away. As we, on the other hand, went to the Italian joint for lunch, the pasta we had was “artisanal and dried” instead of freshly hand made. Still amazing.

Their Linguini ($14) with pancetta, chilies and tomato sauce seemed to be well liked by Kitty. I managed to steal a noodle or two with my fork and I must say I agree. Their tomato sauce tastes different from other restaurants, somehow giving off a more authentic and “homemade” sensation. The linguini noodles were almost elastic-like, for being stretchy and chewy when eaten. For someone who usually prefers cream-based pasta sauces, this was the one time I wish I had ordered an entrée with tomato sauce.

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Kelvin’s Rigatoni ($15) with bolognese again, featured the homemade tomato sauce that was in the linguini dish as well. If you prefer chewier pasta, then this one is perfect because of the rigid rigatoni. The meat chunks in the bolognese were quite plentiful in comparison to the pasta. I also tried a slight portion of this entrée, but liked the linguini more for the smoother texture. In my opinion, the linguini seemed bigger than this entrée, but my risotto was probably the most filling dish with an abundance of butternut squash sauce.

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Although I was determined to order something along the lines of linguini or rigatoni, I ended up caving once I caught the word “butternut” in the Butternut Squash Risotto ($15), denoted with a (V) for vegetarian. There seemed to be a heavy dose of wine in my risotto, but I liked the winey-ness because that actually added a richer flavour to my risotto overall. The pasta was al dente – chewy, but cooked just right. Butternut Squash also gave a sense of sweetness to the dish, perfect for a sweet tooth like me. The Brussel sprouts on top, which could at times be bitter, could not have been a better complement to my risotto.

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The title of this post includes “ask for more” for two reasons: one being that the pasta was so good I would like a second serving, and second being that the portions were much too small I could definitely have two orders, especially for the prices we paid. I am sure many people are wondering why this Italian joint is named Ask for Luigi (as with myself), and their website answers exactly this question: to create a friendly dining atmosphere.

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Lastly, not food related, but this tiny framed sign caught my eye on our way out and I thought the statement reflected some food for thought. This reminded me of this article that was popular on Facebook awhile back, that people who complain about crappy customer service should probably self-reflect and ask why they are the ones constantly being treated poorly.

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So don’t forget to create harmony with one another, everyone! Happy Italian dining!

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