Padella (Toronto)

Like any good Italian restaurant, you won’t leave Padella hungry. Even as we sipped on wine, a basket of freshly toasted bread and a small bowl of delicious pickled beans arrived, something that even people waiting by the bar were nibbling on. 

To avoid sounding repetitive, I found Padella best suited for people who enjoy under seasoned dishes, which allows an ingredient’s natural flavours to shine, but was too plain for me. Some restaurants add a lot of toppings to their beef carpaccio ($16), the only garnishes at Padella were well-drained capers and shaved parmigiano; even the greens were left undressed. Indeed, we could taste the beef, it just doesn’t taste like much without seasoning.

Similarly, the pan seared octopus ($16) and cannellini bean salad barely had a lick of salt so the flavours were derived from the herbed olive oil. I just couldn’t get used to the octopus’ texture, which was too soft. Sure, you may be thinking tender octopus is a good thing. Yet, when the seafood flavours disappear and the springy texture almost becomes mushy, it no longer tastes like octopus.

The clams to linguine ratio in the vongole ($19) was impressive: equal amounts of seafood to pasta. Moreover, both ingredients were prepared to perfection – the clams just cooked through but still juicy and the pasta retaining that lovely chewiness. If only the sauce wasn’t so acidic – it’s like the chef forgot he added lemon and did a second squeeze, then the person at the pass added a third helping – rendering everything so sour that even the garlic and white wine were masked. This could have been an amazing dish with a quarter of the lemon and double the salt.

Only the spaghetti carbonara ($18) had a decent amount of saltiness from the guanciale, pecorino, and parmigiano. If you like bacon, this dish is for you as Padella doesn’t skimp on the guanciale. Combined with the egg yolk, the cured pork’s fat creates a rich smoky sauce that covers the fresh spaghetti. For me, I would have like more pepper to balance out the flavours.

Padella’s tiramisu ($8) was equally rich with generous amounts of mascarpone cream, making for a moist and decadent dessert. If only it had a stronger espresso flavour it would be even better, but still left us satisfied.

The cozy restaurant was packed on our Monday evening visit. From the number of people speaking to the staff, I could tell there are a lot of repeat customers and this is a neighbourhood joint. The friendly environment and respectable portions were great, I only wish the flavours were better. Luckily, aside from the vongole and octopus, the others are an easy fix with a dash of salt and pepper, something that can easily be accommodated by asking for some shakers. 

Overall mark - 6.5 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1967 Avenue Road

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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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