Ottawa Magazine - - LITTLE ITALY -

With a bold menu fo­cus (char­coal and raw, or crudo) and a sleek in­te­rior fea­tur­ing white quartz, black gran­ite, tex­tured wal­nut, and gold ac­cents, Mati con­tin­ues the di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion of Pre­ston Street culi­nary op­tions. Open since 2017, Mati puts forth a menu that in­cor­po­rates Mediter­ranean flavours with nods to South Amer­ica.

From the crudo sec­tion, yel­lowfin tuna tartare is a home run of crunchy cu­cum­ber, green onion, and raw tuna with a layer of lively green av­o­cado on top and a soft bed of curry aïoli un­der­neath. The whole thing floats in a pool of maple soy sauce with crunchy taro chips at the side, cre­at­ing a per­fect bal­ance of spicy and sweet, crunchy and soft.

A Greek salad is a chunky mélange of aro­matic vegeta­bles and cheese. To­ma­toes have plenty of flavour, the cu­cum­bers smell di­vine, the feta is creamy and slightly sour, and the black olive tape­nade brings just the right touch of brine. But it’s the crou­tons that shine: slightly gar­licky, at once soft with olive oil and crispy from the grill.

Arancini pro­duce a moan of plea­sure. Coated with crunchy crumbs, they ooze creamy Fri­u­lano cheese and sit atop a spicy tomato sauce.

When it comes to the en­trees, both the 14-ounce steak and the bone-in chicken ben­e­fit from the smoky, charred fla­vor of the grill. Meat is juicy, with an earthy flavour that you just can’t get from any other cook­ing method.

Thought­ful touches through­out the menu, as well as a sense of how to make the most of the clas­sics, mean Mati de­serves to be­come more than a spe­cial-oc­ca­sion restau­rant.

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