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Johnny Farina Restaurant

Johnny Farina
Cuisine Style:
European Casual
240 (80 in each dining area)
216 Elgin Street, Ottawa, ON K2P 1L7

Johnny Farina
Opened in 1997, the family-owned Johnny Farina’s has a longstanding reputation for excellent cuisine, a warm and intimate atmosphere, and an authentic Italian vibe. But it’s not just the food that keeps customers coming back again and again. At Farina’s, diners feel like old friends, and each pasta dish is made with Mama’s special touch.

Preparations in Johnny Farina’s kitchen are a family affair: “Mama Maria” is at the top of the food chain, providing the foundation for every pasta dish. Head chef Paulo Tabbi is Italian born and globally raised, infusing imaginative new world flavours into Maria’s rustic-style cuisine, which includes handmade pastas and pizza baked in a wood-burning oven.

The wood-oven pizza is a prized specialty at the restaurant, and their trademark thin, crispy crust is the perfect canvas for a masterpiece of tastes. There’s a pizza for every craving... but why not try something with a twist, like Farina’s signature Scallop’n’Bacon pizza: a pesto cream sauce base topped with thinly sliced potatoes, mozzarella cheese, bay scallops, caramelized onions, bacon bits and smoked Gouda. And if it’s pasta you’re craving, dig into a plate of Penne Johnny Farina: homemade penne tossed with grilled chicken, wild mushrooms and red onions in Asiago cream sauce, topped with fresh radicchio and toasted pine nuts.

At lunch time, Farina’s is a popular destination for business lunches, attracting customers from the nearby provincial courthouse, government and high-rise offices. A Farina’s lunch is an escape from the stresses of the office, a place where patrons are greeted with comfort food and familiar smiles. Many lunch customers drop in at least twice a week, and the staff has a close, friendly rapport with the regulars. The restaurant also recently created an ‘eat fresh’ takeout deli in front of the lounge, preparing hot-and-ready Italian meals for a business lunch on the go.

Johnny Farina’s design is inspired by the intimate yet open feel of an Italian village courtyard. Inside, 30-foot ceilings give the dining room an airy feel, and the illusion of being outdoors is amplified by two huge windows overlooking Elgin Street. There are three main dining areas: the upstairs loft, which looks down onto the open-concept kitchen and dining room; the main dining area that is modeled after an Italian courtyard; and the newly expanded wine and bar lounge that has an edgier, more modern feel. The main dining room plays Italian bistro music and‘rat-pack’ styled tunes, while the lounge offers acid jazz and amore modern beat. Altogether, Johnny Farina’s can comfortably seat 240 patrons.

At dinner time and in the evening, the crowd is more relaxed and social, and the lounge side is a popular destination for late dinner and drinks. The three large rooms with different feels can accommodate a dining experience of any kind, with large parties usually placed upstairs and a few cozy, romantic nooks and booths reserved for couples. Dress is mostly business casual, but flip flops and a t-shirt are not out of place in this relaxed atmosphere. Special events are a treat at Johnny Farina’s, with the restaurant regularly hosting weddings, birthday parties, office parties, first communion dinners, bar mitzvahs, charity events and wine and beer pairing events.

The beer selection is comprised of eight carefully selected, unfamiliar and eclectic craft-brewed draughts that provide a little something for every customer’s palate. The bar offers an additional 20 beers in bottles including the sought-after summer treat “Fruili,” which is a Belgian strawberry white wheat beer brewedwith 33% real strawberry. The wine list boasts over 100 bottle selections, a remarkable 25 of which are available by the glass.

Farina’s meticulously selects mostly wines that are not regularly available at the LCBO, with the intent to give patrons the opportunity to taste something they can’t find in the fridge at home! The‘nightcap’ list also includes an array of specialty coffees, ports, grappas and six dessert wines available by the glass.

And if unmatched cuisine and an amazing atmosphere aren’t reason enough to drop in, why not get behind a good cause? For the last five years, Farina’s has partnered with the Children’s Wish Foundation and offers a “Pizza for Wishes” lunch time special on Tuesdays. $5 from every “Pizza For Wishes” sold goes directly to the Children’s Wish foundation. Now that’s what we call food with heart!