Wine Dine and Play: Ponte Vecchio Restaurant

Ponte Vecchio Restaurant



















Old World Tuscan Inspired By New World Cuisine
Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
Cuisine Style: Italian, Tuscan
Average Price: $$$
Overall Rating: 5/5
Dined in: June 2011
By Sean Overpeck (CFE)
**A full article and index glossary of restaurants, wines, recipes and travel for 
Wine Dine and Play are in the pages section above, or by following these links:



Ponte Vecchio Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 



The Ponte Vecchio Restaurant on the lobby level of the Fallsview Casino, not be mistaken for the Old Ponte Vecchio Bridge built across the Arno River of Florence back in the early 1300s. The cuisine, however, is reminiscent of that of Tuscan tradition, with a blend of the melting pot that is modern day Italy. The bridge today is currently lined by high-end shops, such as jewelry stores, exclusive retail and art dealers. This bridge inspired the CAA/AAA Four Diamond rated Ponte Vecchio restaurant, as it and the lobby mall resembles the same types of shops as the old bridge.

Located off the gaming floor, lobby level at the Fallsview Casino and Hotel, which overlooks the famous 170 foot high Horseshoe Falls and the Niagara River on the Canadian side, Ponte Vecchio Restaurant is a breath of fresh air away from the other tourist magnet destinations around the city like Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, Copacabana Brazilian steakhouse, Tony Roma’s, or Ruth’s Chris. The hotel was built in 2004, greatly irritating the Hilton Hotel, as, before the Fallsview, they had an uninterrupted view of the American and Canadian falls. So, the Hilton added another tower to go higher than Fallsview so they could reclaim the view as advertised. Other restaurants at the hotel include the 21 Club Steak and Seafood, R5 Patio, and the Golden Lotus Chinese restaurant and sushi. 

Did you know that the falls are estimated to be 12,000 years old? Also as early as the1820s, a tourism industry began to develop at Niagara Falls? Then came Jean Francois Gravelet, who used the professional name, Blondin. During the summers of 1859 and 1860, he gave a series of amazing performances on the tightrope. Then On October 24, 1901, a 63-year-old school teacher named Annie Edson Taylor became the first person to take the plunge over Niagara Falls in a barrel. The 1953 film Niagara starring Marilyn Monroe as a honeymooner, helped turn the Niagara area into a honeymoon destination. When I visited in 2011, I did it as a tourist and alone, which you can still do, and enjoy just as much as honeymooners do.

Cozy, open, and a hint of opulence, with a lower light level which is not attractive to all diners that enter a restaurant, but the use of the several mirrors reflecting the lights from the main entrance.  That area was very bright, and it gave just enough light reflection to see the menus and food, while still enjoying a cozy atmosphere. Now this was 2011, and they may have made updates since that time, so please take that into account if you visit. There were people from all age groups, enjoying date nights, as well as talkative tables on business or just enjoying the closing of a fun day. Overall a lively experience, that the service staff managed well. The menu was broken down into six sections along with a separate wine and dessert menu. 

    • Soups and Salads
    • Antipasti
    • Pasta
    • From the Grill
    • Fish
    • Desserts

Every good dinner must begin with a nice wine. Though being in Canada, there were many Niagara wines on their list, but I had just done a wine tour and tasting and decided to have an Oregon wine from the Dundee Hills, of Willamette Valley. The Chehalem Winery, 2008 Stoller Vineyard Pinot Noir, which the winemakers tasting notes describe as a moderate garnet and brilliant wine, aromatics, a soft and velvety palate, and a mix of fresh red fruit and earth flavors. It finishes with intriguing sour cherry and very light tannin. Perfectly balanced, with good acid. Look for very long aging. When I ordered the bottle and had it delivered the server and not the Sommelier made the presentation and as a result the bottle was only partially primed, meaning that it was presented and opened properly, but the one step that most restaurant servers fail to do that a Sommelier will do naturally, is to swirl a small amount of wine in the glass, then discard it. From there they do another small pour to allow the person ordering the wine to smell or taste it. As it is rarely done properly, my point ratio for the positive or negative rating is low and does not drastically affect the overall restaurant rating.

 Homemade bread was served as is in most restaurants with plain butter, yet uniquely presented in a small cast iron skillet. For my meal on this evening, I would choose three courses, from the salad, antipasti, and the fish sections of the menu. The Caprese salad would come first with certified mozzarella di bufala from Naples D.O.P. (Denominazione di Origine Protetta), vine ripened cherry tomatoes, full sliced yellow tomatoes to alternate the color spectrum, organic olive oil, a balsamic reduction, basil, and sprinkled with British made Maldon Salt. Four separate colors to this Caprese made it one of the better salad and Caprese presentations I had seen from the many restaurants in Italy or the United States that I had ordered it from. The worst is when you get a slab of regular mozzarella cheese that they try to pass off as di Bufala. It would have the Roman Emperors and victims of Pompeii (modern-day Naples) turning in their graves. Four distinct colors and three separate items used to make this dish stayed true to the modern plating techniques following the “rule of odds.”

The Caprese salad

You could also or a panzanella salad, Caesar, tiger shrimp, or seasonal salad if Caprese style salads do not interest your palate. The second course from the antipasti section had several interesting selections to choose from such as sea scallops with heirloom carrot purée, ocean trout carpaccio, and my selection, the antipasto della casa, which came with a classic Italian prosciutto di Parma ham, Niagara cured coppa, grilled seasonal vegetables, shredded pecorino cheese, Toscano Taggiasche Olives, and Sicilian Pachino tomatoes. Many flavors, good color, and textures but a little gritty at first, and an over-powering of salt from the olives, yet once all the flavors combined it was like an explosion of paradise, that made you go back for more. The vegetable mix was also presented on some bruschetta. 

Antipasto Della Casa

The pasta and grill portions of the menu were really no different from most Italian restaurants you dine at, though the gnocchi di ricotta con ragu bolognese did catch my eye simply because of the high-quality wagyu beef that was offered in the bolognese. They had it advertised as Kobe, but without a certification to prove that it was actual A5 Kobe, so that means wagyu. The grill had your usual suspects from veal prepared either with parmesan or saltimbocca style, tenderloins, lamb, duck, and chicken. My third and final selection of the evening was an item from the “Pesce” section (fish), with four items to choose from, all with origins on the eastern coast of North America. The East coast halibut would beat out the lobster and trout selections topped with a Meyer lemon and panko crust, stacked up with an assortment of vegetables from asparagus, zucchini, sweet cherry tomatoes, more Taggiache olives, capers, and fresh basil. The fish was like an M&M, it melted in my mouth, but warm enough to nearly burn my hand if I would have held it!! 

East coast halibut

Dessert:
I was completely fool and could not get dessert, so I suppose the Pinot Noir settled as my sugar rush for the evening, however, they had a few options that looked really good to include a vanilla cannoli, a pumpkin crème brûlée with a cranberry Chambord, and an espresso cheesecake with Kahlua chantilly. If I was hungry enough, I would have devoured this cheesecake or the crème brûlée. Thought it sounded good as I read it, I would have “left the gun, but taken the cannoli.”

Cannoli

Please see these guidelines for Tipping in Restaurants and on following proper etiquette, customs, cultures, and avoiding assumptions when you dine out.


Other Noteworthy Italian Articles & Restaurants:
Alioto’s Restaurant Historic restaurant serving Sicilian-infused seafood in San Francisco, California
BiCE Restaurant, Dubai Marina Acclaimed upmarket classic & innovative Italian in Dubai, UAE
BRIO Tuscan Grille Relaxed Tuscan-inspired Italian chain eatery, reviewed in Sarasota, Florida
FarmTable Kitchen Casual Cal-Italian cuisine and chef tables in St. Petersburg, Florida
Feola’s Italian Ristorante relaxed eatery for pizza and pasta in Treasure Island, Florida
Gratzzi Italian Grille -Traditional and classic Italian plates in St. Petersburg, Florida 
Gino’s East Pizzeria Chain serving Chicago-style deep dish pizza & other Italian eats in Chicago, Illinois
Gino’s Restaurant & Bar Old-school & modern genial Italian eatery in Tampa, Florida
Greystone Restaurant Italian CIA school restaurant in Calistoga, California (Now Gatehouse Restaurant) 
La Petite Maison Relaxed French-Italian Restaurant at the DFIC in Dubai, UAE
Locale Seasonal Northern Italian at the De Bortoli Winery in the Yarra Valley, Australia 
Noble Crust Modern contemporary Italian and Southern dishes in St Petersburg, Florida
Pia’s Trattoria Tuscan-themed old-school Italian restaurant In Gulfport, Florida
Pizza Republica Trendy Italian trattoria and pizza restaurant in Centennial, Colorado
Prato Rustic Italian bistro with modern takes on classic dishes in Winter Park, Florida
Roberto’s Ristorante A walk into the Piemonte with a contemporary twist at the DIFC, Dubai, UAE
Romano’s Greek & Italian Restaurant Casual Greek & Mediterranean Dining in Brandon, Florida
Sea-Guini Chic restaurant with seafood & Italian-inspired cuisine in Clearwater Beach, Florida 
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See the whole list by visiting “The Wine Dine and Play Article Glossary


Other Canadian restaurants and articles on Wine Dine and Play:

French & Canadian cuisine
Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada
Regional Canadian fare & view
Toronto, Canada
Elegant seasonal Continental cuisine 
 Niagara, Canada


See the whole list by visiting “The Wine Dine and Play Article Glossary by country





Final notes, review basics, observations and more pictures:

Most reviews are subjective, depending on the writer; but they should also be responsible, and respectfully written, upholding the truth, and accurately conveying the experience to the best of the writer's knowledge, even if it includes metaphors the restaurant may not like to read about. My ratings are by the stars I award (from 0 to 5). The rating is calculated on a point accumulation of six separate factors based on individual experience. They include wine and other beverage selections, plate presentation, customer service, restaurant or café ambiance, food quality, and wow factor. To see more details of this rating list, read this article:

Overall from this experience and the score factors outlined in the ‘about page’ section, based on my individual experience and rating, I give Ponte Vecchio a 5 out of 5 stars, meaning that they not only exceeded my expectations and were far above the average dining experience of most restaurants, but they surpassed outstanding and were extraordinary.
Scores are detailed in the factor chart below:

Formula Factor Conclusions and Overall Ratings
Max Points Possible:
Total Points Awarded:
Total Points deducted:
Ambiance
10
9
1
Food quality
10
9
1
Plate presentation
9
9
0
Customer service
8.5
7
1.5
Alcohol and other beverages
9
7
2
Total regular points awarded
46.5
41
5.5
Total percentage Before Bonus

0.881720430107527

“Wow” factor BONUS
5
3
0
Total bonus percentage

0.0645161290322581

Total percentage with a bonus for the final star rating

0.946236559139785

Stars Awarded (see chart below)
             0 - 5
5

**A full break down and explanation of the observations and point disbursement is available in the linked article above. To receive a detailed copy of your score, feel free to contact me at any time and I will provide it to you.**

***

Overall Star Rating:
5 of 5 Stars: 
95% Rating with a 3 point “wow” bonus
An Extraordinary Dining Experience
Wine List:
Wine rating:
7 of 10
Old World selections: 
France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain

New World selections: 
Argentina, Australia, California, Canada, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa
Corkage fee’s:
This Restaurant does not list any corkage fee’s however, most American restaurants charge 
$25.00 per bottle
Restaurant style:
Conservative dining
Cuisine style:
Italian, Tuscan
Allergen or dietary accommodations: 
Farm to Fork, Gluten Free, Grass Fed, Pescatarian, Vegetarian Options
Reservations:
Not Required
Walk-Ins:
Accepted, but not guaranteed
Dress code:
Smart casual or Conservative attire
Child policy:


The Restaurants reviewed on this site may have a kids menu or cater to them; however, for full enjoyment of food and wine, it is recommended that kids not to be in attendance, unless they have been trained in proper etiquette. 
If not then:
Hire a Babysitter! 
Experiences:
Place for foodies, Contemporary, Hotspot, Beautiful décor, Classy, Upscale, and a Neighborhood Gem.
Payments:
Cash, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express
Parking:
Valet or a Private lot
Wifi
The restaurants reviewed on this site may have Wi-Fi, but do not require you to go online, because the excitement of the food and wine alone will keep you too entertained instead of checking your social media and emails.
Noise level:
Medium
Smoking:
Nonsmoking restaurant
Patio or terrace:
No




Food Prices 
(excludes, alcohol, taxes & 20% gratuity’s)

$£€¥ -                Under 50.00 (inexpensive)
$£€¥ x 2 -          51.00- 99.00 (moderate)
$£€¥ x 3 -          Over 100.00 (pricey)
$£€¥ x 4 -          Over 200.00 (expensive)
$£€¥ x 5 -          Over 400.00 (very expensive)


**Currencies reflect the world’s major travelers, restaurant, or wine connoisseur’s**

Currency:
Price
Canadian Dollar (CAN)
$$
United States Dollar (USD)
$$
Great Britain Pound Sterling (GBP)
££
Chinese Yuan (CNY)  
¥¥¥¥¥
European Union (EUR)
€€

 Alcohol prices:

$77.00 CAN



Ponte Vecchio:

6380 Fallsview Blvd
Niagara Falls, Ontario
L2G 7X5 Canada





Contact Information: 
Restaurant website:
Maître d or host:
+1 888 325 5788
Email Contact:
Serving hours:
Eastern Standard Time
(GMT, Zulu, or UTC - 5:00)
Dinner: Tue-Sat
5:00 pm - 11:00 pm
Social Media 
Accolades:
Unofficial Facebook Page            





****
The worlds best restaurants is a subjective list of who is writing it and changes on a regular basis. The Wine Dine and Play best experiences are based on my highest rated stared restaurants, meaning that the visit was an outstanding or extraordinary experience. From cafés, chains, mom + pops, hole in the walls, to fine dining including a few Michelin spots. Visit the Top 100 page to see the entire list.


A few to tease you with…

Top 10 American fine-dining ornate chophouse
Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Turkish culinary journey with an eclectic European twist
Plaza Versace Hotel, Dubai, UAE
Seasonal Irish with French gastronomic dining
 Dublin, Ireland




Other Pictures:

Wine cellar
Bread starter

Chehalem Pinot Noir

Dining room


“Culinary perfection consists not in doing extraordinary things, 
But in doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.”

-Angelique Arnauld (1591-1661)


Who is John Galt?


TTFN



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