Tucked away in a cozy neighborhood in the Village of the Arts is the charming and quite delicious Ortygia Restaurant. Having lived in this area for two years, I am still exploring many areas and I was thrilled when I came upon Ortygia and could share it with my husband and my mom, while she visits us from “up North”.
I had heard great things about the restaurant and learned quite a bit about Chef Gaetano “Guy” Cannata from the Ortygia website. Chef Guy opened his restaurant in 2007 after working in other area restaurants. He wanted to bring the tastes and flavors of his Sicilian upbringing to the area and make his “home” a gathering place featuring “Monzu” cuisine, which is a hybrid of Sicilian and French cuisines. The website states that this type of food dates back to Napoleon’s time.
Upon entering the charming restaurant, located at the corner of 13th Street W. and 15th Avenue W., we were welcomed into a warm and inviting home. The restaurant is just that––a home set up in a flow of intimate dining spaces. It’s casual and inviting and we felt like family as soon as we walked through the doors. On the night of our visit, there was live music in the main entrance space. We were seated in a room in the back of the house decorated with colorful paintings and furniture.
Our server was quick to help answer any questions we had on the menu. She wore a “blingy” t-shirt emblazoned with the restaurant’s logo: The Flavor of Sicily—The Flavor of Civilization”. When I mentioned to her that I was vegan and asked if the kitchen could accommodate my requests, she quickly replied that Chef Guy is used to making special requests and had already made a vegan meal for another guest that night. I was thrilled to hear that and told her to just have him make the same for me!
We started our meal with an order of Caponata, which is an eggplant and Mediterranean vegetable medley served with crostini (or mini toasts). It was a tasty dish full of capers, celery, and chopped olives mixed with the vegetables. We could have eaten a second helping, but we wanted to save room for the main event. Our server also brought us some delicious garlic infused bread, served warm in a cloth bag. We were told it is made locally, not in-house. We refrained from asking for more bread––though it was tempting!
Our dinners arrived and we couldn’t have been more pleased. My vegan entree was a fresh medley of sautéed Brussels sprouts, a cold black lentil salad and a penne pasta mixed with sautéed mushrooms, peas and greens. It was light and flavorful––a perfect blend!
My husband ordered the Pollo con Carciofi, which was a boneless chicken breast sautéed in white vermouth and lemon. It was served with artichokes, black olives, spinach and parmigiana and a side of penne pasta. He described it as a simple, yet classic dish.
The Pasta Siciliana was my mom’s choice of entree. This penne pasta dish made with San Marzano tomatoes, garlic, basil, eggplant and ricotta salata was totally delicious and she described it as light and tasty. She said it was just the right amount of sauce!
We were all too full to even consider dessert but we did spy our neighbors at the next table ordering dessert. Maybe next time we will save room.
Ortygia is open for lunch Thursdays thru Saturdays, 11:30-2:00 and for dinner Tuesdays thru Saturdays, 5:00-9:00. I would highly recommend a reservation due to the intimate space of the restaurant. You can visit them online or call them at 941-741-8646
Photos courtesy of Heidi Schild.