I hit up the downtown area this week for lunch with a friend of mine who had suggested going to Rigoletto's. Having only seen the place from outside, I wasn't all that pumped. It has a pretty unassuming exterior in the bottom of a residential building, but I was really selling it short
Walking in, it was a lot bigger than I had realized, and the decor was a bit unusual. It felt half contemporary with clean lines, exposed brick and dark wood, and half more traditional with decorations alluding to Rigoletto's Operatic name. It seemed to draw a good lunch crowd.
The menu is a bit different from a traditional Italian restaurant, offering a few appetizer and soup choices, a fairly standard selection of salads, sandwiches - including some Italian grilled selections, pasta and entrees, and then an omelet section. To top it off, there was a list of daily specials that also covered most of those categories.
I started with the soup of the day, a bacon and potato chowder. It was excellent. I know that is a rare endorsement for a chowder, seeing as they tend to be creamy and a touch bland, but this one had a number of different diced veggies in it to add a bit of punch (plus it had bacon, which always adds a nice salty flavor to creamy dishes). It was a very well done soup.
For the main event, I got the Smoked Salmon appetizer, which came with cream cheese, red onions, capers, gherkins, olives and toasted French bread. I'm not a gherkin or olive lover, so I left them be. The bread was toasted to a lovely golden color, and there were plenty of sliced red onions and some of the largest capers I have ever had. I felt that there was not enough cream cheese, because I ran out about half way through the toasts, and I was not spreading it on very thick (although I would have liked to because I love cheese!). I was worried about the smoked salmon, as I typically am in new restaurants, because of the potential for it to be slimy and have a weird sheen. The smoked salmon here was actually quite good though. It wasn't quite delicate enough to put it up there with the stuff I had at Sage, but it was certainly edible, and quite tasty.
My dining companion opted for the Greek salad, saying that she had had it before and it was very good. I liked that it came with a piece of garlic toast (as did my soup), because I feel unsatisfied having a salad with no carbs or meat to go with it. The garlic toast is very tasty and has a bit of Parmesan melted onto it. The salad itself was filled with beautiful colours that popped all the more thanks to the generous amount of dressing.
All in all Rigoletto's was a pleasant surprise for me, but obviously not a huge secret given the number of patrons. I'm glad it has survived a few location changes and is still going strong today.