Coming into the harbour of this beautiful city is a joy and a special experience. There is nothing quite as impressive as Victoria from the water. The sight of the Empress Hotel brought cries of “let’s get off the boat tonight and go out for dinner.”

But dinner? Where do you go? There are so many choices and areas of town that have their own unique character and great selection of dining venues. Online resources like Yelp and Travel Advisory may help, but we like to ask the locals – “where would you go for a great dinner if you wanted to impress your significant other?” This query usually gets a smile and a couple of recommendations. We like to ask the question multiple times with several different locals; if we get the same recommendation, then most likely the named restaurant is a great place to go. We heard the word in a hushed whisper, Il Terrazzo Ristorante, a hidden gem nestled in Waddington Alley off Johnson Street, directly behind Willie’s Bakery. We love Italian food, so that’s where we went. We made reservations, anticipating a great evening out.

Most of Victoria’s Old Town was constructed during the great building boom of 1886-1892. During that period the red brick character of Victoria was established. As a seaport, the city gave rise to warehouses, saloons, hotels and other enterprises; many of these buildings still remain. The building that houses Il Terrazzo was built in 1890 as a hotel. The Italianate architectural style is typical of that found in Old Town. We entered through a lovely courtyard and stepped into the intimate restaurant of Il Terrazzo.

We shared a special evening meal together, starting with focaccia bread and an olive tapenade, followed by the Formaggio di Capra, a hazelnut-crusted goat cheese, baked over an open flame oven, served on a salad of mixed baby greens with poached pear, sun-dried cranberries and a lemon, pear and port-wine dressing, oh sooo good. For the main course, we chose the Fusilli pasta dish, which included spinach and fresh basil. Our waiter, Jamyson, suggested a glass of Stags Head Cabernet Franc to accompany our meal. As a finishing touch, we indulged in a vanilla bean gelato dessert with Turkish sour cherries, marinated in brandy.

Not only was the meal and wine a culinary, mouth watering experience, but the personal attention from our waiter made for a special evening out. Don’t miss this hidden gem on your next visit to Victoria BC; I know I’ll be coming back.

John Shepard
WG Field Correspondent