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About greedocatucci

Guy Fieri only wishes he had my hair.

GRAND REOPENING: Patio pizza in Little Italy!

Dude, Little Italy was lit last night, bro! After the Azzurri beat Belgium in the Euro Cup, people were out dancing and celebrating in the streets — the cops actually blocked off College until 8 o’clock, three hours after the game ended! OK, so there might not have been as many people as we wouldda seen pre-pandemic, but I’m pretty sure they still exceeded the limits of an “outdoor social gathering” under Phase 2. And we were right in the middle of all the action at Trattoria Taverniti, this cozy, family-run Italian joint that’s been at the corner of College and Clinton for the past 10 years!

Man, this place has almost an entire page of pizzas to choose from — 24 in all — so you KNOW I’m gonna crush a pie, paisano! But first, here’s a take on bruschetta thatta I’ve never even seen before, bro…

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Now, who needs tomatoes when you can have spicy sausage and cheese, though? At Tavernitis, they top this toasted bread with n’duja sausage spread and some creamy stacciatella, and then finish it with a drizzle of honey. I dunno what they put in that salsiccie, but it was pretty, pretty spicy! And yet, the sweetness from the honey really cuts through the mix. Man, I don’t think I can go back to regular bruschetta after this…

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Now, it’s hard to pick a favourite among so many great pies, but when in doubt, I go with the one that has the most meat. (That’s probably, like the fifth rule of Flavourtown, or something.) In this case, that would be the Carne, a combination of pepperoni, Italian sausage, and no, that’s not bacon — it’s guanciale, bro! Crust was nice ‘n crispy, and 18 bucks gets you a pie that’s probably enough food for two people…but you KNOW I ate it all and still had room for dessert!!!!!!!

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And when it comes to il dolce, I gotta go with an Italian classic — we’re talkin’ tiramisu! Nice ‘n creamy, with a hit of cocoa and not too, too much espresso…pretty sure I could slam at least three of these, bro!!!!

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: I’m living on Chinese duck…

Man, it’s been a while since I’ve been to Lai Wah Heen, the fancy Chinese place inside the Doubletree Hotel. It’s known as one of the top dim sum joints downtown, and they’re even serving up a real-deal, nine-course meal, but you can’t really do dim sum on a patio, bro — they don’t even do outdoor dining at all. But they do have a pretty extensive takeout menu, so before the DoorDash Premium Restaurant discount ran out (it ended yesterday), I figured I’d head on over for some grab-and-go stir-fried BBQ duckling:

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Now, the menu said this duck was BBQed, but you couldn’t really tell — the meat has the same texture as beef or chicken after it’s been cooked in the wok. You’ve also got a few veggies here, like carrot, onion and bell peppers, along with some ginger…but what makes it is the sticky rice.

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Sticky rice is definitely one of my favourite dim sum dishes, so when I saw it on the takeout menu, I knew I had to take some home. Instead of one big lotus leaf, they actually give you two smaller portions, each wrapped in a leaf, with pieces of pork, mushroom and sausage inside. It’s not quite the same as getting it off a dim sum cart, but until we move into Phase 6 or 7, or whenever they actually allow indoor dim sum dining, I can live with this for now. Patience, young grasshopper, eh?

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Speaking of which, I used one of those funky “30% off orders of $50 or more” discounts from Uber Eats to pick up a buncha Big Rock beers straight from the brewery. So if you notice a lot more Big Rock in my future blog posts, that would be why. Plus, you can’t go wrong with Grasshopper, which was probably the first craft beer I’d ever had, back in the day… Who needs Bud Light when you can have Big Rock and sunshine, Darius Bro-ker???

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: $30 steak dinner, delivered!!!

Over a year ago, when the pandemic was still young, I ordered a $200 steak dinner for delivery from the now-closed Jacobs & Co. This was the very first time that Uber Eats was giving out codes for 25% off, so I got them to take 50 bucks off my bill — which is probably why their promotions are more like like “30% off orders over $50, but save no more than $20” now.

Speaking of promotions, we’re now in the last days of DoorDash’s Toronto Premium Restaurants, so when I saw that Hy’s Steakhouse was one of the places taking 7 bucks off orders of $30 or more, I figured their $32 steak sandwich would fit the bill:

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Now, for 32 bucks, you’re not expecting filet mignon — but this was still a pretty decent piece of meat. Cooked to an even medium rare, with a light sear, and a bit of peppercorn atop a toasted baguette. Would have been nice if they had taken off the gristly bit at the end, but otherwise, I’m not complaining.

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Fries had a good thickness, and were nicely seasoned. The mini glass bottle of Heinz ketchup was a nice touch, even if I had to scrape out every last little bit — and still needed some more ketchup after that.

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Now, when I ordered from Jacobs, I paired my steak dinner with a nice, fancy stout. Well, this beer is also a stout — although you wouldn’t know from looking at it. Big Rock Brewery’s Mindbender white stout might not be as rich as a Guinness, but it has enough of that cocoa-y, coffee taste to make you do a double take. Also, at 4.4%, it’s not much stronger than a Guinness — which means you could probably drink it for breakfast?

GRAND REOPENING: Nachos and draught beer @ Madison Avenue Pub

Now, some food just doesn’t work well for takeout or delivery. Case in point: nachos. If you don’t eat ’em right away, the chips get thin and soggy, and they don’t hold up well in a takeout container. Even the amazing nachos at Sneaky Dee’s aren’t as great when you get them delivered. And yes, this is something you could make at home, although my make-at-home nachos tend to be made in a microwave. So you’re definitely not getting the full restaurant experience.

All of this is to say that I haven’t actually had nachos since like November. So now that restaurant patios are open again, we’re hanging out at The Madison, this funky little joint just east of Spadina, where they’ve got a three-level patio serving up pub classics like burgers, wings…and these Buffalo chicken nachos:

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Now, let’s be honest, these nachos weren’t really that great. They only put cheese on maybe 10% of the chips, the chicken was tough, and not spicy, and there weren’t many other toppings to speak of. But man, I’m just happy to be having nachos again, bros!!!

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Dude, I can’t even remember the last time I ordered a pitcher of draught beer. I mean, even a lot of restaurants that reopened are only serving it in cans or bottles right now. So, never mind that The Maddy only had three beers on tap — two Amsterdams and a Stella — I’m about to get my drink on, son!!!!!!!

 

 

GRAND REOPENING: Tacos with a view @ Lavelle

There ain’t no patio like a rooftop patio, bro! Last night, we’re hanging out at Lavelle, this funky rooftop joint 16 storeys up on King West. This place is so popular you can barely get a table, and while you can’t go in the pool — on on the dance floor — just yet, they are serving up dinner and drinks until late at night. Dude, can you say short rib tacos???

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These little flavour nuggets of braised beef are served in wonton shells with avocado crema, pico de gallo and micro cilantro. They come three to an order, but let’s just say I could eat about 30, and still have room for dessert…

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And no, my hands aren’t THAT big — these babies are only 2-3 bites each, which explains why they’re on the small plates section of the menu.

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Of course, you KNOW I didn’t just eat three tacos, bro! This Mac Dog (which is more like two hot dogs) has got me turning Japanese with togarashi, yuzu pickles, and both kinds of onions — diced AND crispy — for a double down in Flavourtown! And believe it or not, but these two more or less regular-sized hot dogs are almost half of price of three tiny tacos…

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Now, if you’re one of them boys ’round here, drinkin’ that ice cold beer, then this ain’t the place to be, Bro-ke Shelton! The only two beers they serve here are Sol and Heineken, which are two things I have never ordered at a bar in my life. Instead, why not go for their Signature Savoury Baesar, a caesar made with Ketel One vodka…where the secret ingredient happens to be Heineken? It’s kinda like a Michelada Gone Wild, bro!!!

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: Super-crunchy chicken lunchy!!!

Now, we first ordered delivery from Eataly in the early days of the pandemic, picking up a pizza that looks like an Italian flag. But since they’re part of the Toronto Premium Restaurants deal on DoorDash that’s going on until the end of the month, I figured I’d try them again, but with more feeling. Say ciao to my little amico, pollo alla milanese!!!

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Talk about a winner, winner, chicken lunch!!! Super crispy, crunchy breading, but still juicy on the inside, with a nice hit of citrus from the lemon, chunks of parmigiano reggiano, and a side salad…hey, it came with the order. While it’s a decent-sized portion for lunch, I’d probably still be hungry if I had it for dinner; plus, at 25 bucks, it’s a bit pricey — although taking $7 off with DoorDash took some of the sting away.

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But I was still a few dollars short of 30, so it’s a good thing they sell their own branded beer, bro! This La Volpe dark lagered ale, brewed by Indie Ale House, has a nice, rich flavour… but at 4.5%, you’re practically drinking water. I could slam, like, diciotto of these, bambino!!!

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: Wagyu, the meaning of beef, the way that I want you to dine!!!

Slayer Burger opened its original location in the east end right around the start of Lockdown Number 3, so I never got the chance to check it out. But when I heard they had a second spot on Queen Street East, just South of Heav… erm, East of Broadview, I was all over that like a Dissident Aggressor, bro!!!!

Now, this place has six different burgers to choose from, but you KNOW I had to go with the First Degree Burger. We’re talking Wagyu beef, bacon, foie gras, fried onions, arugula and provolone on a black metal (or more like blackened thrash) charcoal sesame-seed bun, son!!!!!

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Dude, this Angel of Death in Flavourtown is so decadent, you’d hafta be Criminally Insane not to enjoy it! Nice, beefy patty, oozing with cheese, and the signature Slayer sauce gives it a nice little kick. But what really makes it is the bacon. Dude, this is the best bacon I’ve had on a burger in a long time — perfectly thick and crispy, just the way I like it. You KNOW I’m gonna Show No Mercy to this one, bro!!!!!!!!!!!

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But after that Reign in Beef, I gotta Cleanse the Soul with a salad. (Hey, it’s not salad if you yell SLAYER, bro!!!) This Slayed Caesar comes with croutons, real bacon bits and parmesan crisps — dude, this is body by parmesan crisps! And since my Uber delivery bike rider took several Seasons in the Abyss to get here, any fries would haven been as soggy as a Dead Skin Mask by the time they arrived…

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Now, my Slayer Milkshake wasn’t exactly solid after spending 40 minutes in some dude’s delivery bag, but it was still cold ‘n creamy, with a hint of almonds and cherries. Hardening of the Arteries never tasted so good!!!!

 

 

GRAND REOPENING: Who needs Canoe when you’ve got CANO?

Now, one place that hasn’t been able to reopen at all during the pandemic is Canoe, the fancy-smancy, fine-dining restaurant at the top of the TD Tower. I mean, you can’t really put a patio up on the 54th floor…although I would totally check it out if they did. But in the meantime, the similarly named, yet totally different CANO Restaurant on St. Clair West is packing ’em in on their front and back patios, bro! The only time we could even get a table was at 6 o’clock, making this place almost as hard to book as Canoe during Winterlicious…

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So, we’re starting off with the Cozze al Bianco — I would sooo vada a bordo for these, bro! The mussels from PEI-ussels are cooked in a white wine and garlic sauce, with shallots, chili flake and cherry tomatoes. Plus, you’ve got these thin slices of Focaccia on the side to soak up the sauce… Dude, you could put that on a flip-flop, and it would still taste good!!!!

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Up next, we’ve got Vitello alla Griglia, a grilled veal chop with smashed potatoes, wild mushrooms and broccolini. This dish tastes almost as good as it looks, son! The only problem was the piece of meat was too thin for them to cook it medium rare, and I thought it was a little overdone. I mean, I’ve definitely had a better veal chop at Blu Ristorante, pre-pandemic… but man, this was some of the best broccolini I’ve ever tasted (by default, almost, but still…)

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Now here’s a beer I’ve never seen ’round here before. This Birrificio Otus Pilsner is coming straight outta Italia, where it won a bronze medal for German and Bohemian pilsners at the 2019 Birra Dell’anno Awards. And I gotta say, it’s got everything you want in a pils — a nice crispness, not too malty, pairs well with Italian food. It’s also 12 bucks a bottle, but hey, it’s not like you can get it at the LCBO, so, y’know, when in Rome, bro!!!!

 

 

 

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: BBQ ribs combo to go, bro!!!

Although patios are open in Toronto, it’s really hard to get a table right now. I mean, that’s great for the restaurants in this city, but not so good when you’re rolling out, looking for the greatest burgers, bacon and beer. Don’t get me wrong, we’ll still be going out to eat as much as we can…but let’s just say the takeout reviews aren’t going away, either. 😉

Now, I haven’t actually been to The Carbon Bar since that one time, in 2016, when their Pit Master Platter failed to satisfy my hunger. But I’ve heard a few good things about them in the meantime, and when I saw they were part of the Toronto Premium Restaurants deal on DoorDash, where you save 7 dollars when you spend 30 or more, I figured I’d give ’em another shot. As it turns out, their pork ribs combo with two sides was $28, and when you add a side of gravy, it’s an even 30, so there you go…

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These ribs are served St. Louis style, which means you gotta bite through the gristly bits at the end. But they are still nicely seasoned, with a good, smokey flavour, and taste great with the side of sweet ‘n spicy sauce, which does what it says on the label. Plus, the metal catering tray kept ’em nice and warm on the way over, which is definitely a plus.

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This mac ‘n cheese is TheBomb.ca, bro! Creamy, crunchy, with a mix of mozza-cheddar and some breadcrumbs on top — again, the catering tray kept it nice and hot till it’s headed down my piehole!!!!

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Now, the thick ‘n lumpy gravy was probably meant for fried chicken, but it still tasted fine on these fries. And hey, if I’m spending two dollars to save seven, you can pour some gravy on me in the name of lard anytime, bro!!!!

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Now, because The Carbon Bar’s beer selection is basically just Budweiser, I reached into my fridge for a Clutch American Pale Ale from Redline Brewhouse. The light, hoppy flavour goes nicely with some smokey BBQ, I gotta say. And no, this brew has nothing to do with the heavy rock band from Maryland — but that does kinda look like their logo, though…

 

 

 

 

GRAND REOPENING: Green eggs & steak @ STK

Man, I don’t even know how long it’s been since I’ve been to brunch, bro! I mean, I ordered it for delivery a couple times during the pandemic — including a massive Mother’s Day smorgasbord-board — but actually eating brunch in person, at a restaurant??? Sheeeeet, I think I gotta go all the way back to September on that one! So obviously, once I heard that restaurants would be reopening last weekend, you KNOW I had to break outta this brunch slump, son!!!

We’ve been to STK a couple times before, and it’s on the second floor, so where do they even put a patio? Turns out, they’ve taken over the courtyard in front of Yorkville Plaza, which is pretty much right across the street. And it’s a pretty nice spot, out of the sun and the rain, with enough seating for probably about 50 people — not all of them got up early to crush some brunch as soon as they opened on Sunday, though…

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Now, their $17 Caesar was a little spicy, a little pricey, and just plain little. But I’m so happy to have brunch back that I even ordered more than one!!!

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I dunno if it’s because of grand reopening weekend, or if maybe they just scaled down their menu due to the pandemic, but some of their previous brunch classics, like chicken ‘n waffles or a big stack of flapjacks, were nowhere to be found. I didn’t even see steak ‘n eggs on the menu…but I did get them to whip me up a little sumthin’ sumthin’.

Since they were serving eggs in a couple of dishes, I ordered a 6 oz. filet with two eggs on the side — only catch was I could only get them poached. Also, all their steaks come with a sauce, which is probably against one of the rules of Flavourtown, but I used this opportunity to get some chimichurri, and create this beefed up benny in Flavourtown… Green eggs ‘n steak, son!!!!

Technically, it’s still not on the menu, but you know what they say — if you build it, they will come. Check out this messy field of dreams in Flavourtown:

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