Rizzo’s House of Parm in Fort Erie takes the number four spot on the Top 10 list of Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2023.
Rizzo’s House of Parm
Crystal Beach, ON
A long–time hangout in star chef Matty Matheson’s hometown of Fort Erie sat sad and abandoned, with bricks for windows. His team bought it, took it down to the studs and rebuilt it as a beachy take on Old Spaghetti Factory style. Only twice as nice, 10 times more delicious and imbued with a 100 percent southernmost Ontario hospitality – feelings and food inspired by his wife Trish’s Canadian–Italian heritage.
The retro shakers on the tables here are stepped up with freshly grated Parmigiano–Reggiano and homegrown chili flakes (careful, they pack some heat). Hefty mozzarella sticks with a fresh marinara dipper are the best I’ve ever had, crisp and gooey with a cheese pull that could stretch all the way to the mirror–backed bar. Matty’s Salad is a satisfying old–school Italian classic, and in summer the gem lettuce comes from his nearby Blue Goose Farm. So do those marinated hot and sweet peppers we order as a side. Saucy, cheesy, broiled and burbling, the namesake Parms are chicken, eggplant or veal in white au gratin ovals for mamma mia goodness, while tagliatelle with Matty’s Bolognese (half beef, quarter veal and pork) is as decadent and delicious as Sunday dinner at nonna’s.
We’re more than full but we can’t skip dessert: a big brownie à la mode, with purposefully neon green commercial mint–chocolate chip ice cream. Because if we’ve learned anything from Matty, it’s that nothing tastes better than a big bowl of nostalgia.