Tag Archives: Italian food

HEATED PATIO EATS: Rooftop pizza @ Gusto 501

A couple years back, we hit up Gusto 101 for a real-deal steak dinner on their rooftop patio. So when I heard that they opened up a new joint in the east end called Gusto 501, I was hoping it would be five times better, bro! This place also has a rooftop patio, although it’s a lot smaller, with heated panels on the walls behind every table. I wasn’t quite as warm as last week at George, but at least I was able to unzip my jacket, so that’s not too bad…

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We’re starting off with arancini, two not-so-big balls of deep-fried rice goodness, sitting atop a whole pile of pepper and cheese. You only get a couple of bites here, but I would put these balls in my mouth any day, bro!!!

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But now it’s time for the main event. We’ve got pizza carbonara, with flor di latte, guanciale, pecorino, black pepper and an egg yolk on a nice, crispy crust. Now, I was expecting there to be an egg in the middle of the pizza, but instead it’s sorta smeared all over the place, which takes away half the fun. Anyways, the crust and cheese was on point, but I couldda used some more guanciale, which is basically Italian for bacon.

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Now, I know the name of this blog is NOT Burgers, Bacon and Pinot Grigio, but the only beer they’ve got here is Peroni, which is Italian for “meh.” On the other hand, they’re serving up house wine on tap for just a dollar an ounce, so I told ’em to fill ‘er up to the top, bro!!!

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And yes, we still had room for dessert, son! Now, this tiramisu looks more like tirami-soup, but the flavours were still pretty on point. And hey, at least it’s not served in a mason jar!!!

Slaying a 48 oz Fiorentina steak, son!

You know me, this is body by steak, bro! Now, I’ve been to so many steakhouses all over this city, but when I found out that Noce, this funky Italian joint on Queen West, was serving up a classic bistecca alla fiorentina, I totally had to check it out…

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This super-tender T-bone is grilled to perfection, with fillet to the left of me, sirloin to the right, and here I am stuck in the middle with meat! We’ve also got a side of polenta fries, which have sort of the same texture as potatoes, without the softness inside. But the meat was definitely the star of the show, bro!!!

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Now, they said we would need 5-6 people to finish it, they said we would hafta take some home…but really, it’s just dinner for two in Flavourtown. I even chewed that last piece of meat right off the bone after taking that picture!

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And you KNOW we’ve still got room for dessert, bro! This chocolate cake was off the chain, with crunchy toffee, ice cream, and bananas…and bananas is good! Now, it wasn’t a very big piece of cake, but after that great big steak, I didn’t need too much cake — so this hit the spot perfectly!

PATIO LIT EATS: Duck confit ravioli @ Terroni

Dude, this is body by ravioli, bro! When I was a kid, I would plow through Chef Boyardee’s like it was crack in a can, so when I heard that Terroni, this funky Italian joint on Adelaide, was serving up not just any kind of ravioli, but duck confit ravioli, with not one, but two kinds of mushrooms, you KNOW I had to come check it out!!!!

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But first, we’re starting off with some deep-fried rings of crunchy goodness — Frittura di Calamari, cazzo! And I am sooo on board with the level of breading here… I could crunch ‘n munch these all night long!!!!

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But now it’s time for the main event! These pillows of chewy goodness come in a nice, creamy sauce, topped with fresh Parmesan for that extra kick. The mushrooms are melt-in-your-mouth, but the duck meat is ground down to the point when you’re missing that unctiousness — I mean, this could be beef or veal, and I wouldn’t taste the difference. (I mighta had a few Menabrea beers by this time, though…)

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Of course, you KNOW we always have room for dessert on Triple B, and this flourless dark chocolate lava cake really takes the cake…so it takes itself? You’ve got some warm, chocolately goodness, with a nice oozy centre, on a bed of cream, with some strawberries and blueberries on the side — I’ve eaten my five pieces of fruit for the week, bro!!!!

PATIO LIT EATS: Super-legit lobster linguine!

So, the first time I went to Sofia, this funky Italian joint in Yorkville, I had steak ‘n eggs. And then, the second time I went, I had steak again. So this time, we’re gonna switch it up with a super-delish summer dish… Say hello to ma lil’ friend, lobster linguine!

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OK, now let’s break it down. You’ve got oodles of nice, chewy noodles, with a tangy pomodorini (cherry tomato) sauce, some stracciatella cheese and these big, meaty chunks of lobster on top. Throw in some bread, and you’ve got an Italian lobster roll in Flavourtown!!!

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Now last week, when we went to Blu, they were all outta tiramisu. It was literally the only dessert they didn’t have. So you KNOW this time we’re gonna order a round of tiramisus for the table, bro! You’ve got a great big bowl of ladyfingers and marscapone, topped with a crunchy layer of cocoa, and a scoop of espresso gelato on top — shut the front, back AND side doors, son!!!!

PATIO LIT EATS: Three-course, real-deal Italian meal!

Man, it feels like Toronto is the last place in the world to reopen after this Coronavirus! But finally, last night, restaurants were allowed to open across the city — for patio dining only. So, it’s time to bust out the Kim Mitchell, cuz you KNOW I’m gonna be the first to eat, bro!!!

We’re breaking the seal at Blu Ristorante, this classy Italian joint in Yorkville. They actually just moved into new digs on Avenue Road, in a space that used to be Estia (another Italian joint), with a great front-porch patio. Now, especially for a Wednesday night, this place was packed — we had to wait about 20 mins to get a table. But what’s 20 minutes when I’ve been waiting three and a half months for this???

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We’re starting off with one of my personal favourites, grilled calamari, on a bed of mixed greens with olives, capers and pepperonata. These actually came with seedless olives, so you didn’t have to spit the pits out onto the plate — that’s some solid social distancing in Flavourtown! But the squid was cooked perfectly; not too firm, but not too chewy. I usually like my calamari like my chicken (fried), but I definitely can’t complain about this dish!

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And then we’re going for another real-deal Italian meal… say hello to ma lil’ friend osso buco, served over risotto with a chunky tomato sauce. Now, the last time I was here, I had a killer veal chop, so I know they know their way around baby beef — but this meat was so fall-apart tender, you didn’t even need a knife to cut it! And don’t let the super-close-up fool ya — that’s a pretty big hockey puck of flavour in Flavourtown!!!

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Now, the sun went down before dessert, so the patio lights really added an extra spark to this picture. They were all sold out of my first choice — tiramisu — so I went with panna cotta instead. I think I ate this little slab of gelatin in 4-5 bites…but after all that osso buco, I really didn’t need much more than this.

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: Italian flag pizza from Eataly

Now, I never got the chance to check out Eataly Toronto when it opened late last year — they always had some crazy lineups, bro! I guess the grocery store’s still open…but who needs groceries when you can have pizza? And at this place, they’re serving up not one, but two kinds of authentic Italian pizza: Roman AND Neapolitan!

Now, it’s hard to pick a favourite among so many great pies, but since I can really only eat one pizza at time, I had to go for the one that’s like three pizzas in one — this is the Tricolore:

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This rectangular pie was made to look like the Italian flag — with rows of red, white and green. Now, I’m not gonna get all three flavours in one bite, so I gotta make like Dexter Holland and keep ’em separated!

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So, we’re starting off with the green side, which has mozzarella and pecorino topped with a basil pesto. Dude, this crust is crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside, and this cheesy combo is TheBomb.it — then the tangy pesto really kicks it up a notch!

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The white slice in the middle also doubles down on cheesy goodness with Goronzola flor di latte and grana padano. While this is still, like, 10 times better than Pizza Pizza, I actually liked the cheesiness of the basil slice a bit more…

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Now, we’re saving the most legit for last with a classic slice of Margherita: tomato sauce, Buffalo mozzarella and one lonely leaf of basil. Now, while the foil-lined pizza box kept the pizza at a decent temp (delivery took about 30 min), it was getting a little cold at this point. But that sauce was super-legit, cheese was pretty tasty, and the crust was on point. Even after scarfing down that whole pie in less than 15 minutes, I would totally order another Marg pizza — I’d just hafta keep it warm in the oven, or something…

Slaying a sausage & rapini sammy @ La Vecchia

Now, I’m not just about burgers — any solid sammy definitely works for me. So, we’re hanging out at La Vecchia, this funky little Italian joint on Yonge St, just a couple blocks north of Eglinton, where they bake their own focaccia daily, and they’re filling it with all kinds of good stuff, like Italian sausage, rapini, sweet peppers and mushrooms:

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OK, now let’s break it down. I thought I’d be getting some thicker slices of focaccia here, but this bread is much more crushable. The bread is warm and crusty, you’ve got nice meaty bites of sausage, some crunch from the rapini, a hit of sweetness from the peppers.  This sandwich is so outta bounds, it ended up on the opposite bocce court, bro!!!!!!

Beef ‘n boar bolognese — the Triple B of pasta, bro!!!

So, we’re hanging out at Jump, this funky joint in the Financial District. This place was playing all kinds of 80’s music, but I didn’t hear any Van Halen…Jamie may or may not be crying right now. Last time I went here was for Winterlicious, but when I saw the beef ‘n boar bolognese, I knew I had to come check it out — it’s a Triple B pasta on Triple B, bro!!!!

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OK, now let’s break it down. You’ve got thick, homemade bucatini noodles, topped with the double-meat sauce, a little rapini, and some Pecorino Romano, to kick it up a notch. The dish has a bit of heat, but not too spicy, and there’s probably enough food for one person here — I still had room for dessert, but nothing on the menu jumped out at me…

Real-deal ricotta gnocchi @ The Eaton Centre, bro!!!!

So, the other day I’m at the Eaton Centre, stocking up on warm socks for winter, when I walked past the Samsung Experience Store and saw a sign for the Samsung Chef Experience. Turns out that Chef Craig Harding from La Palma, home of the 100-layer lasagna, was whipping up some ricotta gnocchi with sausage and chilies…so you KNOW I had to come check it out!!!

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These tasty cheese nuggets in Flavourtown were hand-rolled and cut, brought to a boil and then finished in a pan with some dandelion greens — shut the back door!!!

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OK, now let’s break it down…

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Dude, this gnocchi was gn-yummy in my gn-tummy! You had the perfect spongy texture of the cheesy dumplings, with a bit of bitterness from the greens, nice crispy bites of sausage and a whole lotta fresh parma on top… You KNOW I went back for seconds, son!!!!!!!!!!!

Holy veal & spinach ravioli!!!

So, we’re posting up at Il Posto, this funky joint in Yorkville that’s been dishing out Italian classics since the early 80’s. Man, this place has got all the pastas: spaghetti, tagliatelle, penne, gnocchi and tagliolini, but when I saw the ravioli de carne e spinaci, I knew I had to try it:

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OK, now let’s break it down. You’ve got these homemade noodles, stuffed with veal and spinach, and smothered in a tomato and basil sauce. Plus, they give you a whole bowl of Parmesan for the table — I would put that on a flip-flop! This dish was quite tasty, but I could probably eat twice as many…dude, this is body by ravioli!!!!