Welcome to Pushing Patio Season, a new seasonal column that helps Apt613 readers find amazing patios that stay open even when it’s a little cold or rainy. We know that many people are not ready to go back to indoor dining yet, so once a week until the snow flies, we would recommend terraces that are heated and / or covered, with fun atmosphere and picturesque views (or in at least some first class looks at people) and of course serves delicious food and drinks. Do you have a suggestion for a patio? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
La Roma: To take back the car park
Preston Street institution La Roma is known for its homemade pastas, but its terraces (yes, there are two!) Are a big draw right now. The street on the terrace at the front is of course fine, but the rear courtyard (located in La Roma’s car park off the street) is where it is, with two covered sections under sturdy tent-style tents, tables at a good distance, and large propane heaters for to keep you warm and toasted even on cool evenings. String lights around the perimeter of the tent add a romantic vibe, and the chairs are comfortable enough to sit down for a few hours, as I did with some family members a few weeks ago. There is also a table on a private balcony suitable for small groups of about six if you are celebrating.
As for food, the incredible pastas are not to be missed (the braised beef ravioli is a revelation), but you shouldn’t sleep on the long, thin, ultra-crispy fried zucchini either. Get some to the table. They also have some tasty private-import wines you won’t find at LCBO, like the Settesolli rosé we enjoyed.
Accessibility note: Although the terraces are on the ground floor, as with so many Ottawa restaurants, the toilets at La Roma are located in the basement down a rather steep staircase and are quite small.
Riviera: Fine dining, literally on Sparks Street
If you have something to celebrate but are not ready to eat indoors, the Riviera has you covered (with some serious tents). Their intimate patio in several sections is located on Sparks Street just off the front of the restaurant, with some strategically placed heaters to prevent you from getting cold in your dressed clothes. (Isn’t it nice to have a place to dress after 18 months of jogging pants?) No rocking chairs or tables here-everything feels high quality. The service is attentive and friendly, and the menu is filled with decadent treats: lobster spaghetti, caviar, burrata, seafood, steak fries. If they have a pavlova on the dessert menu, do not think twice. Oh, and cocktail fender, this is your happy place: Riviera’s bar program is amazing and contains half a dozen special negronis.
Availability note: You will have to go indoors to get to the toilets, which are located at the very back of the restaurant (and it is not small); however, one of the two unisex cabins is wheelchair accessible.