Ritorno reopens and is ready for your visit

Ritorno reopens and is ready for your visit
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Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins has been a reporter with Oakville News since 2016. Covering local news and live events, he specializes in film, theatre, and entertainment. He comes from Campbellton, NB, and has lived in North Oakville over 20 years. Tyler is a proud graduate of Journalism and Performing Arts from Sheridan College. Twitter: @MrTyCollins

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After a three month closing because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ritorno restaurant is ready for guests again. And not just for their newly relaunched takeout either – the patio is open and ready for you to enjoy.

Owner Julia Hanna has been hard at work during the closure. She’s been revamping both the dine-in and takeout menus for when guests could return. And Julia knows what she’s doing – after all, she’s been in the restaurant business nearly 40 years.

“We’re just excited to have people back, and excited people can have the food again,” she says. In addition to the patio, Ritorno also began their redesigned takeout menu as well. Among the highlights are sauces, pasta, and their showstopper gnocchi you can take home and make yourself.

That gnocchi, by the way? Showstopper is being modest. It’s one of the many things you can enjoy at the restaurant’s 18-seat patio. Oakville News was there on reopening night to learn about what’s changed since the closing.

Yes, there are obvious fixes like installing glass barriers. And serving staff are happily wearing masks. But they’ve also gone the extra mile to ensure Ritorno was ready for guests again. They applied an electrostatic disinfecting spray over every surface in the restaurant.

General Manager Matthew Granger understands that preparing the restaurant was about more then physical changes. “It’s about installing confidence in your employees,” he says. “We took care of every precaution so everyone is safe.”

That strategy paid off. Staff and customers alike were buzzing, bright, and ecstatic to be dining out for the first time in over three months.

What it’s like having dinner on Ritorno’s patio

Dinner on the patio is almost identical to any great experience from before the COVID-19 pandemic again. Ritorno’s staff work tirelessly to make guests feel relaxed and safe while enjoying top-notch food.

One of the silver linings from the extended closure was Hanna had an opportunity to revise the menu and create some new dishes. Alex, a chef and Julia’s son, explains “it’s rare you get a chance to step back and tweak things.”

The Caprese Ritorno is their new take on a caprese salad. It’s deconstructed with fior di latte, gremolata, roma tomato, basil, balsamic reduction and sea salt. Assembling the ingredients together is both whimsical and refreshing on a warm, summer night.

Caprese Ritorno

Next is the new Primavera pizza. Starting with a roasted garlic base, it’s topped with broccolini, spinach, herbed tomatoes and three cheeses. It’s an outstanding vegetarian pizza, and works as an entree or an appetizer for the table. (Trust me on the appetizer – the eight slices make it great for sharing.)

Primavera Pizza

For dinner, the new pasta dish is a Linguine Aglio E Olio Con Pollo. Seared chicken, bruschetta, spinach and both green and black olives dress this colourful pasta perfect for summer.

Linguine Aglio E Olio Con Pollo

Don’t forget the gnocchi

And of course, no table at Ritorno is complete without someone ordering a plate of their signature gnocchi. They have a new homemade rose sauce that’s terrific. It was Alex’s idea, in fact, to go back and rework all the sauces on the menu to make them even better than before.

Rose Gnocchi

Nonna Jenny, Julia Hanna’s own 82 year old mother, still comes in multiple times a week to hand roll all the gnocchi they serve. Hanna describes the process as a labour of love.

“It’s about the touch, and she [Nonna Jenny] is protective of every piece,” says Hanna. “When she makes them, she has two chefs with her and they can’t keep up. Everything down to how precisely the pasta is cut matters to her. She’s done it more than 35 years. That kind of commitment is amazing.”

As for dessert? Julia’s favourite is the Tiramisu…unless you have a die-hard chocolate fan at your table. In that case, you can’t miss the flourless chocolate cake. It’s a luscious torte with cocoa dusted whipped cream and blueberry compote. The consistency is heavenly. And consistency – that’s the hallmark of what Ritorno’s kitchen is all about.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

The reinvented business is a great night out

The entire al fresco dining experience in and of itself is remarkably Italian. Ritorno also provides a dazzling food concept with great consistency and purity among every dish. Matching olives, tomato and black pepper to the oil-dressed linguine, for example, shows the versatility of fresh ingredients.

The restaurant’s thoughtfulness comes through in food, service, and its outreach as a buisness. Julia’s also been giving back to the community during the extended closure by starting the Ritorno Gives foundation.

“Ritorno Gives is a food security based program providing meals to frontline workers and food-insecure families and individuals,” says Hanna. “So far we’ve provided over 2000 meals to community partners, frontline and essential workers, and directly to families in need.”

That generosity carries over into the dine-in experience, too. “The best part of being a small business is we can take care of our customers the way corporate chains can’t,” says manager Granger. “We try to do anything possible we can so people have a great time.”

And a great time is certain to be had. The patio table’s waiting for you.

Ritorno restaurant is located at 261 Oak Walk Drive in Oakville. Reservations for the patio and takeout orders are available by calling 905-257-5881. Ritorno is currently open from 3:00-8:00pm Wednesday to Sunday, and until 9:00pm on Saturdays.

Patio has limited capacity and is open for dinner service by reservation or limited walk-ins. Reservations also available online.


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