One of the marvels of dining out is that, in a sense, one gets to travel without having to leave far from home.  For over four decades, Aielli (286 Lakeshore Road East) has provided just such a culinary journey for those desiring an Italian dining experience in Port Credit.

Having undergone renovations last year, the family-friendly setting is attractive with tasteful décor and hand-painted murals adorning the walls, additions to which are continuing.  Our chef on this evening was the owner, Lou, and my lovely dinner companion and I were well attended by the engaging and thoughtful, Elizabeth, throughout the meal.

Having taken in the ambiance and seated near the newly installed fireplace, we started our meal with freshly baked bread, a savoury grilled mushroom medley ($12.95), and a creamy Cesar salad ($9.95).  These were enjoyed with a nicely-paired glass, light Prosecco ($11).

Aielli has an exceptional wine list suited to a wide range of price points and tastes.  If there’s an oenophile amongst you, be sure to check out Lou’s Secret Cellar!  If you prefer to bring a bottle of your own, you may for an uncorking fee ($20) and they will treat it as well as one from their own cellars.  From time to time there are tastings held at the restaurant, featuring select vintners who come from around the world to explain the nuances of their creations.  Aielli has received the Award of Excellence eight times from the Wine Spectator Awards Program, which is to say they know their vino!

A full-bodied and grape-forward Ripasso Valpolicella from Farina ($60) complimented both our Pappardelle Bolognese (Veal Ragù with shaved Grana Padano cheese – $17.95) and one of the day’s specialties, a generous serving of Saffron Seafood Risotto ($28).  The Ragù consisted of tender, thick, and fresh pasta enrobed in a satisfying meat and tomato sauce, perfectly herbed.  The Risotto was also perfectly prepared, al dente with calamari, scallops, mussels, clams, and langostino tail highlighted by a rich, buttery sauce.

For a lighter repast during the day, adjoining the restaurant is Maranello Café (also owned by Lou) that offers similarly delicious fare.

So, instead of a Mediterranean cruise or even a sail on Lake Ontario, why not enjoy a sensory trip to Italy at Aielli?  Open Mondays to Saturdays, 5-10 pm, reservations can be made on line (www.aielli.com) or by calling the restaurant at 905 278-2183.