matteos

Given it’s location in the heart of downtown Welland, I guess you could consider this restaurant a diamond in the rough. And really, I think this is what our downtown needs – and more of it. I mean, all jokes aside, downtown Welland really does have potential. I guess it’s just a matter of building it up to the point of attraction to get things going.

Matteo’s serves authentic Italian and it’s reasonably priced. The atmosphere is warm and relaxed; the stone oven is open to the dining area adding quite the ambience. Oh, and the owner is incredibly friendly and personable. He checked up on us to make sure we were satisfied several times, but without interrupting the conversations at the table. How considerate.

So, the food.

I’ve heard arguments on whether or not it is in fact an Italian tradition to start a meal with bread, and oil for dipping. Regardless, I love it. It adds a nice touch and it always felt pretty authentic to me.

At Matteo’s, they serve fresh Italian bread with their own oil concoction, which includes olive oil, white wine, fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, green onion, tomato, oregano, and beans. The beans threw me off, as I’d never seen nor heard of this before, but it worked and it was delicious. The white wine and lemon juice/zest added acidity and a subtle citrus flavour that wasn’t overpowering at all.

matteosbreadandoil

My starter was a ceasar salad. It’s hard to really get into why a great ceasar salad is a great ceasar salad since they tend to not differ much from place to place, but the ingredients were fresh and the salad was tossed (did I just say that?) in a perfect amount of dressing. The croutons were crunchy, the bacon real, and the parmesan fresh.

And well, here is a very generic photo of a ceasar salad. At least they twisted the lemons all fancy-like.

ceasar salad

My friend started off with stuffed mushrooms – and these mushrooms were gorged! There was seafood and cheese and I could hardly control myself, so I punked one from my friend’s plate. I gave him some of my ceasar salad in return. Fair trade?

stuffed mushrooms

At last, dinner. There was no way I wasn’t ordering the Marguerita Pizza.

Ever since I’d read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, I’ve been dying to try the real deal as far as marguerita pizza goes. Thin crust, tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and basil, cooked to perfection on a stone in high heat. Every time she mentioned gobbling one of these up throughout her time in Naples, a piece of me died.

However, those pieces have been restored.

marguerita pizza

This is the kind of pizza that slumps over your fingers if you don’t use both hands, which I love. I’ve never been big on a thick and heavy crust, so this pizza was a dream. And all of that mozzarella! Fresh mozzarella ain’t cheap! So with every bite, I felt as though I was robbing the place for the price I paid.

All in all, an excellent dining experience. I will definitely be going again, and I highly recommend this place for the more intimate dining experiences – whether with close friends or a significant other.

Hey, Valentine’s Day is coming. Welland guys, get on it.

Matteo's Ristorante on Urbanspoon

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