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Mona Lisa a delight for lunch

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Veal escalopes with grilled eggplant, zucchini and red pepper, accompanied by tomato and bocconcini salad.

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Veal escalopes with grilled eggplant, zucchini and red pepper, accompanied by tomato and bocconcini salad. Photo Store

Mona Lisa Ristorante Italiano
1697 Corydon Ave.
204-488-3684
Street parking, wheelchair accessible
Lunch, dinner and take out menus

Mona Lisa Ristorante Italiano first opened its doors in 1983 but continues to reinvent itself on a continual basis, adding to its size in both directions and renewing and refreshing its concept in unique and inventive ways.  

I watched with interest as the latest face lift occurred and was waiting for the perfect opportunity to visit again. When a business associate suggested that we celebrate our mutual birthdays with a lunch, I knew the time had come.  

We whetted our appetites with slices of hot-from-the-oven bread which we dipped into a quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Mona Lisa’s lunch menu is quite compact, which is a good thing, as I prefer it when a few items are prepared with particular expertise, rather than many offerings being done with mediocrity. I did find it somewhat surprising that the only pasta offering was the pasta of the day: a penne with tomato sauce. But, priced so affordably at $5 with an Italian salad adding another $5, my date found it to be a satisfying lunch, especially for $10. She also said the simple sauce was very tasty and well-balanced.

I was not so easy to please. I read over the menu many times and just couldn’t make up my mind. So I decided to take a risk and asked our personable server to order whatever he thought I would like best.

When he asked if I was partial to veal, he immediately suggested that I try their version with an accompaniment of bocconcini and tomato salad. The escalopes were quickly turned with sautéed onions and accompanied by grilled eggplant, zucchini and red peppers in a simple, rustic presentation.  The addition of skinny slices of red onion was a nice twist on the classic bocconcini salad recipe, but required a wee bit of salt to enhance the flavour of the abundant tomato wedges.  

Proprietor Joe Grande was enjoying his own lunch at a neighbouring table.

In all the years that I have been enjoying Mona Lisa’s fare, he is a constant figure. On my last visit, he insisted that I tour the kitchen, to my delight. The fresh pasta was being lovingly prepared and was drying on massive wooden racks.  The ancient process fascinates me every time I witness it.

Kathryne Grisim’s foodmusings.ca blog was named best local blog in Uptown Magazine’s Best of Winnipeg readers’ poll.

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