Osteria Rialto (Toronto)

Osteria Rialto was one big, pleasant surprise. In need of a last-minute reservation to be close to after-dinner festivities, we booked the restaurant based on availability versus reviews. Their menu offers a selection of Italian staples that looked adequate. It’ll likely be a safe but forgettable meal, I thought.

My first bite into the suppli cacio e pepe ($12 for two pieces) and Rialto already brought the arancini to another level by combining it with a mozzarella stick. There was a nice cheese pull to the rice croquette encapsulated by the creamy risotto with a liberal sprinkling of black pepper to balance out the rich bite.  

A decent portion of cheese and meat arrives with the burrata e prosciutto ($25), enough for a taste each for our table of five. The 36-month aged prosciutto had a lovely savoury sweetness against the creamy cheese. And while we didn’t want any bread, they mistakenly provided focaccia ($9) that ended up pairing well with the cheese, the bread salty and fluffy served with a generous dish of olive oil.

The tagliatelle ($27) was surprisingly rich for a meatless sauce. Soft buttery squash was tossed with parmigiano and fried sage, almost melting into the chewy pasta ribbons. The dish is a hearty vegetarian alternative for the winter.

I preferred the squash pasta to the rigatoni ($28), which was a touch dry. While I liked the hint of heat in the sugo, the lamb tasted more like sausage, so the dish was too salty and greasy.

While the chicken in the pollo ai funghi ($34) could be cooked less, the thin cutlets were at least crispy and flavourful slathered in a creamy mushroom and black truffle gravy. If only Osteria Rialto offered rice as a side, the grains would soak up the delicious sauce so well.

It was difficult to decipher the background flavour in the sauce on the braciola di maiale ($38) ... it had a hint of umami that seemed out of place from what looks like a cream sauce. Consequently, the bagna cauda sauce incorporates anchovies (along with garlic), which is likely what added the umami and gave the neutral pork chop a lot of flavour. The meat was cooked well and the roasted rapini kept nice and crispy.  

Osteria Rialto tried to jazz up the insalata misticanza ($16) with a colourful variety of lettuce, including pink leaves – spoiler alert, it tastes like any other bibb lettuce. Ultimately, it’s a plain salad with a few slices of radish and sprinkling of crispy farro tossed in a vinaigrette. Nothing exciting, but if you’re looking for a traditional way to finish an Italian meal, a simple salad is it.

The dinner reminds me to sometimes not over plan a meal – there’s so many reviews and opinions that at times it gets overwhelming. Keep it simple: look for location and a decent menu, then grab a group of friends and go. 

In a nutshell... 
  • Must order: tagliatelle & suppli cacio e pepe
  • Just skip: rigatoni

Overall mark - 8 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 4 Westmoreland Avenue

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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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