By Michael Lowe
Amid the dour predictions COVID-19 has slapped on the restaurant business, there’s a new place in St. Catharines that’s been getting a lot of attention recently.
The Twisted Pig, located at 1 Lock Street in Port Dalhousie, opened just over a month ago. Owners Robyn and Michael Burgess promise traditional Italian cuisine with a twist and, during our first visit for the most part, they deliver on that promise.
Our first plate, an appetizer of octopus and sausage (photo above), combines Mediterranean flavours of tomato, olives, capers in a slightly sweet take on classic puttanesca sauce ($19). The Berkshire pork sausage has a hint of heat, which marries nicely with that sweetness. There are a few perfectly cooked fingerling potatoes, adding substance to a dish, which could be enough for a light lunch for one person.
I love rapini, so my choice for a main dish is easy. From the menu’s pasta section, the rapini with cavatelli, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, caramelized onions and goat cheese ($20) really hit the sweet spot. Although the menu mentions chilies, I couldn’t detect them. But that didn’t detract from an otherwise great dish, which I’d order again. Flavours were balanced and pasta cooked perfectly — just plain delicious.
There are but three choices on the mains section of the menu for those who don’t want pasta or pizza. My wife opts for the Arctic char, served with potato salad and avocado lime puree ($32). The char, hot off the grill with its crispy skin is perched on a cold salad of baby new potatoes and the avocado puree (photo above). Don’t get the wrong idea — the puree is NOT guacamole, and that’s a good thing. It’s simply as stated and the zesty lime contrasts the creamy dressing on the potato salad beautifully. Altogether it’s a simple marriage of a few good ingredients — a textbook Italian approach to cooking.
To finish, we share an order of cannolis ($11). The crunchy tubes of pastry are filled with Limoncello mascarpone and round out the meal perfectly—not too sweet, balanced flavours, satisfying.
Please note that we dined early on a Saturday as a walk in, just before what would be the dinner rush. Within half an hour reservation signs were placed on every table in sight, so it would be best to call ahead if dining inside. There are plenty of tables on the patio for al fresco dining and they also offer takeout.
You will not be handed a menu, for obvious reasons, so be prepared to use your phone to check the restaurant’s web site (see link below). All food and drink menus are posted there. The wine list heavily favours Niagara wines and some great craft beers are also featured. One main segment of the menu is the wood oven pizza, which I must try next time around.
The service we experienced was delightful and attentive, thanks to Raeanne who happily answered any questions we had. Expect to spend around $100 for two, plus gratuity. Lunch and dinner are served daily and the hours are posted on the website. The Twisted Pig shows promise and I, for one, look forward to another visit soon.
1 Lock St.,
St. Catharines, ON