DALINA is thrilled to introduce our new head chef: Simona Bonelli, who brings to us over 20 years of restaurant experience, specializing in the cooking and creation of authentic Italian cuisine.
Prior to joining us at DALINA, Chef Simona spent many years in some of London’s most flavourful Italian restaurants including The Ark, a highly acclaimed Notting Hill hotspot, and Carluccio’s Caffe. Moving eventually to Canada, some of the restaurants she has brought her Italian touch to include the Toronto-based chain Oliver & Bonacini, the openings of celebrity chef restaurant Jamie’s Italian in Yorkdale and Square One, and most recently, as the executive chef, at Glowbal Group’s Italian Kitchen.
Growing up in Terracina, a small coastal town in Southern Italy, Chef Simona spent her childhood surrounded by food and family. Her parents owned a butcher shop, her grandfather was a baker, and her grandmother worked in the deli. Cooking with fresh and colourful seasonal produce, growing organic herbs and vegetables, shopping at the farmers’ market –qualities which we value here in Vancouver—was to her, just a part of being Italian.
Given that DALINA specializes in fresh, Italian-inspired housemade food, It’s no surprise that our kitchen and café felt as familiar as home to Chef Simona.
Since her arrival to our team in August, Chef Simona has already initiated the creation of more colour to the deli display at DALINA. Rich red beets, orange butternut squash, yellow turmeric dressing, deep green kale and leafy greens, pink pickled onions, and bright white eggs, are some of the fresh, colourful, and nutritious ingredients used in salads at DALINA. If people eat with their eyes, Chef Simona is ready to give them a feast!
The size of DALINA is perfect for Chef Simona’s vision: large enough for a diverse and energetic team, but boutique enough to innovate and experiment, without the corporate constraints of standardized menus.
In the realm of the kitchen, simple tweaks make a world of difference in flavour and sensory appeal. For example, you may have noticed that the olive oil focaccine at DALINA is round, instead of the thick cut square blocks you typically see. The circular shape helps preserve the moisture of the bread, so the edges don’t dry out and get crusty.
Recent innovations at DALINA under the direction of Chef Simona and her team include black brioche buns made with activated charcoal, bite-sized mini frittatas to appeal to breakfast customers on-the-go, a French toast made with croissant for brunch, and a traditional Italian Passata sauce base, which customers can bring home as an ingredient for their own cooking.
With the start of the fall season and many celebratory occasions just around the corner, Chef Simona hopes to bring more Italian desserts to the table. Her take on sbrisolona (Italian almond cake), tiramisu, panna cotta, and biscotti for the café, are some of the Italian sweets she hopes to share soon with Vancouver.
With an energetic start to her tenure, the team at DALINA is so excited to have Chef Simona’s 20 years of Italian cooking, authentic knowledge, and many years of restaurant and management experience brought to our kitchen. We are already inspired by her passion, creativity, and Italian creations, and we know our customers will be too!