CLOSED: The Red Tomato (Toronto)

the red tomato toronto

Attending the Red Tomato’s “Pie Tunes” party allowed me to sample their new pizzas, which occupies half of the menu’s real estate. But, as the name alludes, their Italian roots offers so much more! Therefore, when a return invite for a dinner was extended, “Sì!” was my immediate answer.  

Large thick slices of fresh mozzarella was the highlight in the salad caprese ($11); it was soft and delicate but could use more pesto for flavour. The handful of spring mix detracted from the other ingredients – covering the stars to the salad. Rather, I would have preferred the caprese traditionally served with additional juicy tomatoes (sliced) and adorned with fresh basil.

Although the chorizo, garlic and white wine sauce in the steamed clams ($11) was delicious, the clams themselves were overcooked, losing the delicate sweetness you’d expect from the seafood. Decreasing the cooking time by a couple minutes, adding more of the wonderful broth and including bread for dipping would make this a tasty dish.

Despite the breading on the coconut shrimp ($8) being a tad thick (using a thinner batter and longer shreds of coconut may be better), it had a great crunch and the shrimp itself as cooked nicely. The dish certainly doesn’t scream Italian, making it a peculiar addition to the meal, but would be great for cocktail parties.

The Red Tomato’s stronger offerings are in their mains. The mushroom agnolotti ($17) is for those who want a rich pasta. Plenty of pieces of crescent shaped dough were filled with a delicious cheese mixture - smooth ricotta and gooey cheese – then cooked al dente. A sautéed mushroom medley in a truffle butter sauce tops everything; an indulgent dish that’s ideal for sharing.

Who says meatballs should only be paired with spaghetti? At the Red Tomato, their plump sausage and Angus beef ones are married with gnocchi ($16) and it works! I rather enjoyed cutting pieces of the meat and spearing it with the plump chewy gnocchi. The marinara is thick and comforting smothering the other ingredients.

In spite of gorging on tons of pizza at their Pie Tunes event, we had to have a second helping of the Peking duck pizza ($18). Juicy just cooked through duck breast, meaty shiitake & enoki mushrooms, bright green onions and crunchy pieces of duck skin work so well together on a thin crispy crust. There’s the sweetness from the hoisin that’s counterbalanced with the savouriness of the other ingredients – a yin and yang pizza.

The picture below is a testament to how thin their crust can be. Nonetheless, it still holds up against the plump garlic shrimp ($18), although something other than the walnut pesto is required to keep them in place.

A manageable list of desserts is offered at the Red Tomato (all $7.99). For those who want something indulgent, the Belgian double chocolate mousse cake is rich and creamy with an intense chocolate flavour. Or the dense duo of cheese cake (a dark chocolate and vanilla bean during our visit) may be better if you can’t make up your mind.

The bourbon pecan pie peaked my interest, with plenty of nuts and a strong twinge of the alcohol. Its filling was perhaps not as gooey as I’d like, but the flavours were there. On the other hand, the espresso crème brulee had the right coffee essence and crackling sugar crust – but the crème’s consistency could be thicker.

The restaurant’s atmosphere is cozy and carefree – you’d feel comfortable in jeans but not out of place dressed up for the theatres. Service is also well timed and efficient - you don’t feel rushed but also aren’t afraid of missing curtain call. In my opinion, the pastas and pizzas are their stronger dishes, providing you with plenty of carb filled energy, for a night on the town.  

Overall mark - 7 out of 10
Disclaimer: The above meal was complimentary. Rest assured, as noted in my mission statement, I will be honest in all the reviews.

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 321 King Street West

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - 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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