Restaurant: Villa Verdi Ristorante Italiano
Last visited: July 5, 2011
Location: Surrey, BC (Newton)
Address: 13620 80th Ave
Price Range: $20-30
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
Food: 2 (based on couple items I tried)
- Since 1996
- “Fine dining” in Surrey
- Northern Italian cuisine
- Home made sauces
- Daily specials
- Very old fashioned
- Liked by neighbourhood locals
- Wine list
- Live piano Fri. & Sat. evenings
- Dinner: Mon-Sat 5:30pm – late
- Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30am – 2:00pm
I really wanted to like it. I really did! With a 90% + rating on Urbanspoon and no blogger posts I was expecting to discover a hidden gem. It’s not hidden, but it’s close to a strip of Surrey trailer parks (I’m serious), so it’s quite an unexpected find. Being located on the busy King George Blvd, I have driven by it before, but it was never a place I planned to check out. However my dining partner had a good experience here once, so based on that we tried it again. As much as I want to support the smaller local restaurants, things didn’t go too well.
I can’t deny that it does have its strong following considering it’s been open since 1996. That was before I was born! Lol, just kidding, but did you believe I was 15? Anyways it is likely a neighbourhood favourite and gem for those who would never really leave the area for food. Or maybe it’s due to the live piano they offer on Fridays and Saturdays… ? Either way I didn’t get it and all I can say was that it was “fine dining” in Surrey. I don’t want to snub the suburbs or Surrey, but I want to encourage people to explore too.
The decor is incredibly old fashioned, but still “elegant” in a very “grandma’s dining room” kind of way. With the gigantic pots of Best Western artificial flower arrangements, and flamingo pink colour theme, I tried to look at it as charming and cozy. It’s quite formal or “fancy” inside and it still is unexpected for the area… of trailer parks.
I’m more familiar with the hole in the wall eateries in Surrey, so to come in with “Vancouver” standards for fine dining wouldn’t be fair. However if a restaurant is going to present itself as fine dining with fine dining prices, white tablecloth service, and professional uniforms, then I will still come in with high expectations. I can’t say Villa Verdi met those expectations. It’s not Italian, but if I was going to fine dine in Surrey I’d go to Old Surrey Restaurant before this, but even that isn’t saying too much.
I’ll try to give the benefit of the doubt that I didn’t try many items on the menu, and perhaps we ordered wrong, but I’m just not inspired to make a revisit. Just trying a couple plates I could kind of see their philosophy and style and it just wasn’t for me. Also I find the prices to be pretty much downtown prices, and for what I had it wasn’t justified. That’s probably another reason hindering me from going back and also what hindered me from ordering a dessert. But don’t worry I had two bags of goodies from Soma Chocolate in Toronto waiting for me after!
On the table:
- It was likely store bought and just a regular soft and fluffy, slightly crusty, but not chewy baguette served warm.
- The other bread was a multi-grain bun, but considering we were two, it should come with two.
- For two $16.95 (It used to be $15.95)
- Assortment of cold meats and vegetables.
- It was only a couple slices of 3 assortments and they were likely store bought, which is fine if it’s from a great supplier, but it was ordinary.
- The vegetables are likely all pickled in house, but they weren’t pickled or marinated well and they were just plain, tangy and flat.
- It was a pretty sad antipasto platter and I didn’t find it worth it.
- The quality wasn’t there and the ingredients were mostly vegetables.
- There was nothing imaginative or special and it’s wasn’t that traditional either.
- For $19.95 I could have gotten an excellent antipasto platter enough for 4 people at Q4 – see here.
- Pickled Carrots – They were tender and tangy, but I don’t even think they should be on the plate.
- Pickled Mushrooms – They were tangy, juicy, lemony button mushrooms, but there’s nothing to it.
- Roasted Marinated Eggplant – They were tangy and well coated with olive oil and one of the more “special” vegetables considering everything else was kind of boring.
- Pickled Pearl Onions – They were sweet and tangy and marinated with balsamic vinegar and these were quite enjoyable and flavourful compared to everything else.
- Capicola – It’s probably not made in house and it was thinly sliced, but it was pretty fatty and then there was heat, but it’s not spicy. It wasn’t that salty and I couldn’t taste any freshly cracked black pepper in the flavouring. I’m not much of a capicola eater to begin with, so I really didn’t care for this. The quality was not bad though.
- Pickled Cauliflower – It’s tangy and tender, but nothing surprising here.
- Pickled Artichoke Hearts – They were tangy, but plain and not marinated with anything else. I prefer the marinated canned ones even.
- Tomatoes with Buffalo Mozzarella – It had a bit of basil puree and olive oil vinaigrette on top, but it was what it was. The basil was actually quite strong, but overall it was such a small portion. It makes me question their Caprese salad.
- Hearts of Palm – I liked seeing them on the platter since it’s not common, but they were plain again. They were tender and a bit tangy and if you’ve never had them they taste like artichokes or white asparagus stems. For great hearts of palm try the Qualicum Beach Diver Caught Scallops with butter browned fresh hearts of palm at Cobre Nuevo Latino.
- Salami – Again it was quite ordinary and decently salty, but no apparent black pepper flavours. I’m not much of a salami person either, but it was what it was. If I go for cured meats it’s almost always prosciutto. A great prosciutto platter is from The BiBo which showcases 3 types of prosciutto – see BiBo Tagliere Cold Cuts Platter.
- Marinated Olives – I’d prefer a variety, but the fact that it came with more than two was good enough considering everything else pretty much only came in two.
- Prosciutto e Melon
- The prosciutto wrapped melon was easily the best thing on the platter, and in which case I would just order the Prosciutto e Melon as an appetizer alone for $10.95.
- On the other hand, I can easily prepare this at home and it was nothing out of the ordinary here.
- The prosciutto was thinly sliced and wrapped around a decently ripe cantaloupe. This is pretty much the only time I actually enjoy eating cantaloupe.
- The contrast of salty buttery prosciutto with the slight crunch of a sweet juicy melon is an unbeatable combination.
- A drizzle of fruity olive oil and touch of Maldon salt would have been nice, but it wasn’t going to get that far although it should have.
- Pasta rolls stuffed with basa, salmon and crab with tomato cream sauce and mozzarella cheese $19.95 +$2.95 for split order
- It said on the menu, but I missed it. There was a +$2.95 for split orders and I wish we were made aware upon ordering too.
- This was the special of the day and it did come highly recommended. Being that it’s seafood and it was a special of the day, I was quite confident.
- It was a very saucy cannelloni and the pasta rolls were home made.
- The pasta was chewy and it was a bit past al dente, but not mushy either. I prefer mine firmer.
- The sauce was a smooth tomato and cream sauce mix and it was well salted with good acidity and tang, and it actually made the dish quite rich and extra creamy.
- It was covered with lots of baked mozzarella cheese and it was more Northern Italian in style, but it also just seemed quite American… but I’m not even going to get into “authenticity” here.
- The sauce was creamy enough, but then the filling was also creamy.
- The inside was stuffed with what seemed like an almost pureed mixture of basa, crab meat, salmon and other fillers.
- It tasted like stuffing and it was very mushy and I never really bit into any chunks of seafood at all (despite what the photo may show).
- For $20 I want to actually see, taste, and bite, into tender flaky pieces of fish and crab.
- I could taste some itty bitty bits of dried salmon (likely frozen) and it did have a seafood flavour, but it was more filler than anything. I couldn’t even tell what the filler was though.
- Even some olives or capers in the mixture or just coarsely mixed seafood would have been better. Even shrimp to give it texture! Anything! Okay, I’m getting frustrated, I should stop, but you get the point.
I don’t normally show the bill, but it was $50+ for 2 people for 2 items for lunch, which I find pricey without the quality. Not getting the heads up from the serve on the split charge, although it was on the menu, still bothers me.