Welcome to Pushing Patio Season, a new seasonal column to help Apt613 readers find amazing patios that stay open even when it’s a little cold or rainy. We know many people aren’t ready to head back to indoor dining just yet, so once a week until the snow flies, we’ll recommend patios that are heated and/or covered, with fun ambiance and picturesque views (or at least some top-notch people-watching) and of course, serving delicious food and drinks. Got a suggestion for a patio? Hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org.
La Roma: Taking back the parking lot
Preston Street institution La Roma is known for its house-made pastas, but its patios (yes, there are two!) are a huge draw right now. The street-side patio at the front is just fine, of course, but the back patio (located in La Roma’s off-street parking lot) is where it’s at, with two covered sections under sturdy marquee-style tents, tables spaced nicely, and big propane heaters to keep you warm and toasty even on chilly evenings. String lights around the tent’s perimeter add a romantic feel, and the chairs are comfy enough to settle into for a few hours, as I did with some family members a couple of weeks ago. There’s also one table up on a private balcony, sized for small groups of about six, if you’re celebrating.
As for food, the incredible pastas are not to be missed (the braised beef ravioli is a revelation) but you also should not sleep on the long, thin, ultra-crisp fried zucchini. Get some for the table. They also have some tasty private-import wines you won’t find at the LCBO, like the Settesolli rosé we enjoyed.
Accessibility note: Although the patios are at ground level, as with so many Ottawa restaurants, the washrooms at La Roma are located in the basement, down a fairly steep flight of stairs, and are quite small.
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Riviera: Fine dining, literally on Sparks Street
If you’ve got something to celebrate, but aren’t ready to dine indoors, Riviera has you covered (with some serious tents). Their multi-section, intimate patio is located on Sparks Street just outside the front of the restaurant, with some strategically placed heaters to keep you from getting chilly in your dress-up clothes. (Isn’t it nice to have someplace to dress up for after 18 months of sweatpants?) No wobbly chairs or tables here—everything feels high-quality. The service is attentive and friendly, and the menu is loaded with decadent treats: lobster spaghetti, caviar, burrata, seafood chowder, steak frites. If they have a pavlova on the dessert menu, don’t think twice. Oh, and cocktail fiends, this is your happy place: Riviera’s bar program is stellar and includes a half-dozen specialty negronis.
Accessibility note: You will have to go indoors to get to the washrooms, which are all the way at the back of the restaurant (and it’s not small); however, one of the two unisex cubicles is wheelchair-accessible.
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