After the abnormally great influx of burrito into my diet necessitated by my last two reviews, I decided that this time around, I would delve into the upper echelon of Peterborough’s culinary establishments. Only the finest of fine dining would be considered for this review, and it was not with regret that my decision came to rest on Dolce Vita.

Located at the site which was once home to Kubo Lounge (going to restaurants which have taken other things’ places is becoming a theme), Dolce Vita has been open for barely over three months. You may have not even noticed the change, considering the basic, non-invasive exterior and dinner-only hours.

This week, your loyal Food Dude tries his tongue at gourmet gastronomy, Italian style. I was joined by senior physics and math double major Barb de Graaf, so you know it’s legit.

Dolce Vita has preserved the fairly open layout of its predecessor, which results in all of its opulence greeting you right as you walk through the front door. Gentle overhead and candle light cast a warm glow about the room, intensified by some nifty mirror crafts on the north wall. I don’t know enough about interior design to speak accurately about the way this place is furnished, but I can tell you that it looks damn good.

The staff started strong by offering to take our coats. We were shown to a table which was set with two forks and the most interesting dinner knife I have ever seen. We were soon greeted by Jenny Bissell, owner and our charming hostess for the evening. The first thing she brought to us was the wine menu. Things just keep getting better.

Every single kind of wine offered here is an Italian consignment wine, which is to say that not only can you not find these at the local LCBO, but they are actually from Italy. Between the whites and the reds, every region of the country is represented on the list. I had the Moscato D’Asti Mustela, a white aperitif. I recommend this very highly to anyone who enjoys a sweet, fruity wine.

I probably spent more time trying to choose an appetizer than I eventually took to eat it; at least three sounded incredibly appealing. I eventually settled on the Pasta Fillo, a flaky pastry filled with sweet goat cheese, carrots, pine nuts and cranberries, drizzled with a balsamic reduction and served over a bed of saucy arugula. The presentation was phenomenal, and the taste kept up. The goat cheese was not scarce, yet at no point did it feel like there was too much of it. The lightness of the pastry kept it from being filler, and its contents were complimented by the sauce’s subdued sweetness with a hint of savouriness.

For the main course, I opted for the Branzino, “oven roasted sea bass in a tomato alfresco garnish”. Mains come with a mix of seasonal vegetables, as well as a choice of garlic mashed potatoes, fettuccine alfredo and tomato risotto. I was very tempted by the second option, seeing as the pasta served at Dolce Vita is also made there, but Jenny recommended I go with the risotto, so I took her advice.

Unsurprisingly, she knew what she was talking about. The fish was delish, and it made quite a dish. It crumbled under the force of my force, and practically melted in my mouth. Its flavour was understated yet remarkable (a difficult task for fish to accomplish). The risotto went beautifully with the garnish, which was hearty in its own right. Eating each item sequentially was no less satisfying than getting a bit of everything on the fork at once. I might call this one of the most impressive seafood meals I have ever had at a restaurant.

Barb was impressed with the entire experience, but was unable to provide comments, so here’s an outsider’s overview of her dinner. It consisted of the Carpaccio Di Manzo appetizer (beef tenderloin in white truffle oil and lemon dressing on a bed of arugula and cucumber) and Linguine Frutti De Mare (a medley of jumbo shrimp, scallops, tender calamari in garlic plum tomato sauce).

Just as we were preparing to call it a night, we were surprised with a plate of the Cannoli Dolce Vita, a creamy cheese-filled pastry shell sprinkled with icing sugar and topped with a nifty fruit whose name I sadly forget. It was nice and light, a perfect way to end the dinner. Now, before you whip out your phone to make a reservation, there’s something else I must mention. If you’re a regular reader, you probably know what it’s going to be.

Dolce Vita is a gourmet restaurant in every respect. Actually, the portions are a bit better than the average one; I was actually quite full afterwards. The staff treat patrons with the utmost respect in a manner that shows no trace of superficiality. Hell, my napkin was unfolded and put onto my lap for me. This kind of fine dining does not come cheap; you’re going to have to break the bank if you want to enjoy a few courses and a drink here. This is the place to go if you want to impress a date, celebrate something big or someone else is buying (remember when I said that about a certain other restaurant? Usurped).

In fact, Dolce Vita is hoping to attract more students and is considering the implementation of a discount. They are currently involved with ELife Rewards, a multi-business program including Splice, Gerti’s and Aria which tallies 5% of purchases on a card for later use at any participating enterprise. If you already frequent some of these places, you ought to look into this.

New restaurants are often gambles, but Dolce Vita was a winning bet. An outstanding experience in every regard, the only downside being my financial inability to visit with any kind of regularity. Oh, and they also had a black toilet. Don’t miss out on that.