Ottawa Magazine - - LITTLE ITALY -

Since 2012, chef Steve Har­ris and his part­ner/co-owner Emily Ienzi have helmed this small, mod­est spot.

In ad­di­tion to ad­her­ing to a phi­los­o­phy based around lo­cal, sea­sonal, sus­tain­able, and nose-to-tail cook­ing, Two Six Ate also boasts an eclec­tic style. That style is ev­i­dent in the decor (taste­fully sparse) as well as their cock­tails (Let’s Get Fizzi­cal is an Earl Grey-in­fused bour­bon with house berg­amot bit­ters and soda) and their ap­proach to brunch (Funky Brunch sur­prises guests with a three-course se­cret break­fast).

In ap­proach­ing Har­ris’s nervy mix of low- and high-brow, one has to bring a sense of ad­ven­ture: pou­tine comes with chicken con­fit, beef tartare with liv­er­wurst mayo, deep-fried sweet­breads (like oh-so-ten­der chicken nuggets) are served along­side smashed peas and mint. And Ital­ian sausages, from a recipe handed down to Ienzi from the Puglian side of her fam­ily, are ac­com­pa­nied by a roasted-tomato and squid-ink aïoli.

Pre­sen­ta­tion is light and play­ful. Some molec­u­lar gas­tron­omy, yes, but it’s no big­gie: “ash” is called sim­ply “pow­der,” made in this case with hot sauce. Cu­ri­ous in­gre­di­ents are pick­led: sea beans (sal­icor­nia), favas, and blue­ber­ries.

At a restau­rant that seems to take great care with ev­ery el­e­ment on the plate, it’s no­table that the only menu item over $20 is the cheese-and-char­cu­terie board.

Un­like the many Ital­ian restau­rants pre­sent­ing time­less dishes from that part of the world, Two Six Ate’s fear­less­ness in be­ing creative with Ital­ian gas­tron­omy makes it a spe­cial part of the neigh­bour­hood.

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