David Rocco Bar Aperitivo (Toronto)

Before going to David Rocco’s Bar Aperitivo, I prepared myself for a casual restaurant that’s meant for a quick bite, so I didn’t expect any posh seating or an extensive menu. As anticipated, their tables were set-up largely as communal shared space with a less than ideal table-to-chair height. In the end, we felt it was best to forgo any dishes requiring a fork and knife that could potentially make a mess.

Instead, we stuck to a hand-held sandwich with salad – easy peasy eats to munch on while we enjoyed a bottle of prosecco. Little did I know that for a restaurant who dedicates half of their menu to sandwiches and salad, the dishes would be executed so poorly. After biting into both, I started comparing the experience to the Druxy lunches that was catered through work and marvelled how they could have been interchangeable.

In the next menu update, I highly recommend Bar Aperitivo clarify that their paninis are cold. Unless you’re deeply steeped in the Italian culture, most people may not realize that panini simply means “bread roll” since the North American interpretation is generally a sandwich that’s been pressed, grilled, and served hot.

Hence, when the frittata panini ($13) arrived cold it was a disappointment – does anyone like cold frittatas?  Perhaps the temperature could have been overlooked if the frittata was really good and incorporated more flavours than the sprinkling of herbs or if their house-made brioche bun was uber fresh rather than hard and cold. At least the salsa verde was tasty and the caramelized onions were nicely stewed and sweet. In hindsight, I should have gone with a crostino, while it seemed like it’d be messier to eat, they looked tastier than the cold egg sandwich we received.

For a dish that's been so overdone, there are over a dozen that David Rocco could have gained inspiration from, Bar Aperitivo’s kale salad ($16) was one of the worst I’ve ever eaten. The kale was simply ripped into large pieces and tossed with a very lightly applied mint pesto and lemon juice dressing so the almost metallic flavour of the kale leaches through, unless you can mask it with one of the orange segments, apples, cranberry, or almonds that’s tossed with everything. Nor were the greens massaged with the dressing, so it made for a fibrous salad.  

The crocchette di cavolfiore ($7) was also cold and not made to order. Temperature aside, the dish could really use some textural contrast as the cauliflower and potato mash is soft and the fine bread crumb coating wasn’t crispy either. Perhaps adding some panko to the coating or some micro-diced vegetables into the mixture would have allowed for some extra colours and crunch.

At least Bar Aperitivo’s gelato was tasty. With about half a dozen flavours to choose from, the tried-and-true hazelnut was calling my name. The gelato was served really cold, so it resisted melting, and the texture was silky and creamy. The hazelnut flavours were pronounced and the sweetness a nice balance. Yet, for $13 for a cup, it really commands a premium over the many other wonderful ice cream shops in Yorkville. While Bar Aperitivo’s gelato was good, I still find Summer’s Ice Cream to be better.

I should have learnt my lesson from the less-than-ideal “celebrity chef” dining experiences at Jamie Kennedy and Gordon Ramsey’s restaurants. Both instances were a lot of hype but the food fairly subpar. The same goes for David Rocco's Aperitivo Bar… let’s just say it does not have me feeling I'm living la dolce vita.

Overall mark - 4 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 95 Cumberland Street

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
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!

Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this: