F'Amelia Ristorante (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 12 Amelia Street
Website: http://www.famelia.com/
Type of Meal: Dinner



Situated on a quiet street in Cabbagetown, F’Amelia was opened by two best friends, John Dawson and Todd Vestby, who also live in the neighbourhood. Even from the outside, the homey feeling begins as the restaurant is situated in a quaint looking converted house on a residential street. The dining room consists of three separate rooms so no matter where you’re sitting it feels intimate. An open concept kitchen showcases the wood burning pizza oven and plating area so you feel like you’re almost part of the process.

Their bread arrives in a tin container containing sticks of focaccia and toasted pizza dough. The focaccia was the highlight with bits of lemon and herb mixed into it adding a nice aromatic essence. Meanwhile the charred soft pizza dough with crunchy sea salt went well with our charcuterie board. Indeed, almost everyone seemed to be getting one of their cheese and meat boards, we were no different sharing the five salumi/terrine and three cheese one ($28).


Firstly, the five meats. The most intriguing was the guanciale or cured pig cheek; paper thin the meat and fat melts in your mouth but the rub on it is an acquired taste and not appealing for our table. While the thyme and rosemary flavoured strips of pancetta were nicely flavoured, they were a tad fatty and waxy for my taste. A chicken liver mousse piped along the breadsticks was light and sweetened so it was almost a dessert with a chocolate caramel essence to it. Fried pig ears with a tartar sauce was good, I just wished there was more of it. Finally, the pork terrine was so richly flavoured that I was reminded of eating a sausage with grainy mustard a good ending.


The three cheeses for the night consisted of pieces of Monforte Dairy Toscano, a firm sheep milk variety made in Stratford resembling a milder parmaggiano reggiano. Next, a really aged French cheese that was much too strong for me and most of the table. The soft buffalo mozzarella was of course my favourite, cold and creamy seasoned simply with olive oil, pepper and salt. Additionally, the platter had berry compote, tasty onion jam, a great pot of spicy pickles (green beans, red beets and cucumber), pieces of sesame grissini (cracker) and some of the longest bread sticks I’ve ever seen.


A great dish for the spring and summer months is the bigoli ($23). Thick chewy noodles are tossed with seared white shrimp, grilled zucchini and arugula pesto tasting so fresh! The onion blossoms add a hint of colour and flavour leaving me wanting more. It’s a dish I highly recommend.


The seafood saffron risotto ($28) was a daily special and had a nice taste but the rice too soft. Little pieces of diced celery added crunch to counteract the mushiness; the crunchiness was something I enjoyed but others at the table found took away from the creaminess of the risotto. However, the scallops were perfectly crusted and cooked, the highlight of the dish.


The cavalo comune pizza ($20) has two cheeses (fior de latte and goat cheese), salty specks of proscutto cotto, sweet caramelized onions and wilted spinach. With all the cheese, I poorly left it to try last so by then the cheeses had hardened. Nonetheless, it was still delicious and contained a significant amount of high quality ingredients with each slice having an even coverage of all items.
  

A table favourite was the diavola pizza ($15). With a fair amount of fresh red hot chilies and slices of spicy soppressata there was a definite heat to it. But, it was toned down with thick pieces of fior de latte and basil. The pizza’s flavour was well balanced and enjoyable. The crust was thin, soft, crispy and could easily be held; a product of being quickly cooked in an exceedingly hot pizza oven. Despite the fair amount of sauce on the diavola, the crust didn’t get soggy at all and retained the chewiness you’d want from a nice dough.


To end, we shared a roasted pine nut and honey cake ($9). Served warm it is similar to pecan pie except lighter. If only the shortbread crust was thinner and there was more filling it would have been perfect. Normally I love the floral essence of lavender but F’Amelia put way too much of it into the lavender cream; it literally tasted like I was eating hand cream or soap and should be left off the dish.


F’Amelia redeemed itself with one of the best tiramisus ($9) I have had at a restaurant. Moist, creamy and containing enough espresso, the tiramisu was well balanced in its sweetness. Certainly the better of the two desserts for the night.

 

Past reviews I’ve read about F’Amelia claimed service was their one downfall with inexperienced staff and slow service. This has certainly improved with our waitress being knowledgeable, offering suggestions and overall attentive enough. Since we were by the wine wall, another waiter periodically came by and made friendly conversation, not hesitating to jump in when we wondered what certain elements of a dish would be. In the end, it was a good dinner. With the neighbourhood’s quiet surroundings and the connecting patio and wine bar, I sense F’Amelia would be a great summer time destination.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

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