Showing posts with label baked eggplant. Show all posts
Showing posts with label baked eggplant. Show all posts

Cucina Di Paisano (Toronto) for delivery


Note: Prices in post are based on regular menu prices and may be higher when using delivery services

Since restaurants have been gradually opening for stage two and three in Toronto, I’ve gotten into conversations with friends and loved ones about why even dine in a restaurant, they all offer take out and some deliver. Isn’t it just convenient, not to mention safer, to just continue eating their food at home?

At first, I gave the easy answers: the food tastes so much better fresh (boy does it) and I’m already wracked with guilt about all the takeout containers I’ve used, anything to go back to less plastic waste (although, I know, even dining in means more waste lately from the one-use menus and the number of wipes discarded). But then I realized, it’s also about the connection you feel with the food.

It really came out when I settled in to try to write this post about my delivery experience with Cucina Di Paisano… yes, I can talk about the food and how it tastes, but other than that I felt very little connection to the restaurant itself. There were no past dining experiences I could re-collect and no feeling of nostalgia towards the dishes themselves.

So, to me, all I can describe is how their Caesar salad ($12 for large size) used way too much dressing, so much so that if I actually had romaine lettuce on hand I could have augment the salad by another 50% without skimping on flavour. And that despite the relatively higher price point for the salad, it was a bare bones interpretation of the dish: lettuce, sauce, a few croutons, and powdered parmesan instead of shavings.

On other dishes, they don’t skimp on the cheese, such as the garlic bread ($8), a hefty portion with six thick baguettes covered with ample amount of the dairy. Although, I would have traded some of the mozzarella for garlic as it just tasted like bread with butter and cheese.

While I didn’t taste their eggplant parmigano ($18), it’s another dish encapsulated with mozzarella and is made to feed two given you’re provided with so many pieces of eggplant, a side of penne big enough to feed a child, and an equal amount of vegetables. Paisano knew that cheese is the way to my husband’s heart (emotionally and literally) as he loved the dish.

Since the meal was being delivered, I moderated my expectations for the grilled salmon ($23) and knew it wouldn’t be a lovely pink doneness in the centre. Indeed, it was cooked through-and-through but still fairly moist, especially on the thinner end where there’s more fat in the meat. The simple lemon, basil, and olive oil was just enough to flavour the fish and compared to everything else the dish was a more manageable serving with crunchy vegetables (broccoli, peppers, and carrots) and the roasted potatoes that arrived overdone but nonetheless flavourful and creamy.

I guess it would be remiss of me not to mention that if you’re doing takeout, they have four great 2-for-1 options that are an economical choice. If it’s anything like their eggplant parmiagno, you may have enough food for a family of four. I wish I could do Cucina Di Paisano greater justice with this post, but try as I might, it’s difficult when there’s no connection to draw upon.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 865 York Mills Road
 Website: https://paisano.ca/
 Delivery: Uber and Doordash
Referral Discount Codes
 Support the blog by using my referral code
 UberEats: use eats-ju6ta to get $5 off a $15 order 
 SkipTheDishes: click link to get $5 off a $15 order
 

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 order again
  • 6 - decent for delivery and takeout, but there's better
  • 7 - this is good, for delivery and takeout
  • 8 - great for delivery and takeout, it's almost like you're in a restaurant
  • 9 -  wow, it's like I'm eating at a restaurant
  • 10 - I'd happily order this for delivery or takeout instead of dining in any day!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:



A La Turk (Toronto)


Good luck getting a table at A La Turk without a reservation. I’ve learnt this the hard way – trying to secure one last minute or stopping by after work hoping to hear seats for two are vacant. It hasn’t happened yet.

It may be their complimentary bread and dip platter. It takes a lot of willpower not to just tear into the hot puffed pita that arrives fresh from the oven. Indeed, I often lose and suffered from slightly singed fingers.


Yet, it’s that steaming toasted pita with a slather of cool dip that gets you excited for the rest of the meal. There seems to always be a garlicky creamy spread, a sweeter carrot one, and a zesty and slightly spicy tomato dip (it’s my favourite_. The fourth condiment can vary between a lightly pickled vegetable or zucchini tzatizki.

Mix a couple of dips together to create something really good, but also save them for pairing with main dishes. They went nicely with the mixed kebab ($36) platter where the chicken wing was grilled beautifully but lacked seasoning. A dip in the creamy garlic sauce saved the wings and made it sing.

Meanwhile, the kabab didn’t need a thing, the mixture was filled with herbs and a bit of chili and so flavourful that you’d want to leave it plain. Since it’s cooked on the grill, there was a bit of smokiness but restrained enough that the kebab’s meaty herb flavours could still be enjoyed. The lamb chop was overdone, but remained moist and delicious, a bit of lemon zest would make it even better. Lastly, the dish is finished off with cubes of steak cooked medium… it’s good, after all, it’s steak.


The side of bulgur rice reminded me of a softer dirty rice. It definitely could use more salt, but with some of the saved tomato chili dip, it was fantastic. Plenty of veggies finish off the dish so you can mix and match the garnishes with the meat. Even the puffy bread the meats rest on is worth a taste, it’s soft and flavourful having soaked in the lovely juices.

If a platter of grilled meat isn’t your thing – sorry we may not be able to dine together - A La Turk has a number of dishes that combine proteins on a more balanced basis. The stuffed eggplant ($12) is something I order every time. Soft and meaty, the eggplant is filled with bell pepper and walnut pomegranate paste for sweetness and ground beef for a savoury element and texture. It’s so good that I may order one for myself in subsequent visits.


That bit of texture is sadly what’s missing from the koro dolme ($12) that takes peppers and eggplant stuffing them with a thick mushy rice. It really needs something else in the filling to add a bit of bite, or at the very least, cooking the rice less and incorporating more spices and herbs. In its current form, it was too sweet and tangy for me.


Having had manti ($25), a Turkish style dumpling, at other restaurants, A La Turk’s version wasn’t the strongest. The dough was too thick and the filling in miniscule portions that it almost tastes like you’re eating gnocchi with yoghurt. Less of the tart garlicky sauce and more texture within the dumpling could improve the dish.


The sarma beyti ($28) takes a seasoned veal and lamb kebab and adds tons of gooey cheese and eggplant and wraps it in dough before baking it in the wood oven. While I’d always lean towards sharing the mixed grill platter, this dish is a close second and is a hot sandwich at its finest.


Whatever you do, save room for dessert. Their kunefe ($8 for the small) takes time to prepare, but you really want them to not rush this. It turns out best when they cook it on a lower temperature so the vermicelli noodles turn a crispy golden brown and the cheese melts into a gooey blob but the syrup doesn’t burn yet.


It’s a sweet that can sometimes be a miss, on one visit the charred bits around the edges gave the dessert a bitter bite. But more times than not it’s that sugary, crispy finish that makes you yearn for more. It might explain A La Turk’s popularity: the fresh pita and dip starting off the meal on a strong note, while the kunefe ending it with a sweet finish. Pick up the phone to make that reservation.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3443 Yonge Street 
 Website: http://alaturk.ca/

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:


A La Turk Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato



12 Tables (Toronto)


Google classifies 12 Tables as an Italian restaurant, which to be fair makes up the majority of the dishes on their menu. However, in speaking to the owner, she noted the restaurant is actually European; in fact, they chose to use a generic name (12 Tables) so they can showcase many nationalities. The husband and wife duo has experience with the culinary industry - back in Poland they owned six restaurants, each offering a different type of cuisine. After arriving in Canada, they decided to focus on one restaurant but still prepare an array of dishes.

Despite 12 Tables’ informal atmosphere, dinners start with an amuse bouche and end with a lemon sorbet to cleanse the palette between the mains and dessert. The amuse bouche changes, on one visit a tasty bite of roasted beet with a creamy avocado mascarpone dressing and another a piece of seared beef. Both arrive with warm soft bread that they bake daily in-house. All this makes for a labour intensive day, no wonder they’re only opened for dinner!


Save some bread if you order the beef tartare ($19) as it doesn’t arrive with crostini. Even with the bread, the dish takes getting used to as the soft tartare against soft bread isn’t the greatest combination (even with a slight crunch from the raw onions). Aside from having something crunchy to spread it on, I’d also prefer the beef cut into bigger pieces so it doesn’t resemble pulverized meat. Regardless, the flavours were spot on and the onions a great addition.


For a crowd, the signature antipasto for two ($27) is a good option with a changing assortment of cured meats, cheeses, and vegetables. The salty cured meat and cheeses are good, but what really stood out were the hunks of grilled eggplant slathered in a garlic dill sauce, juicy sticks of marinated beets, and the large pieces of pickled artichoke. In fact, I wish they offered a vegetarian version of the antipasto platter as the vegetables were definitely the highlight.


12 Tables calls out on their menu, the fact the carbonara ($19) contains no cream. I can understand why, with all the aged cheese, bacon, and parmesan, it tastes like a really rich creamy pasta. Personally, I would have liked more black pepper to help balance the flavours and a splash of stock to thin out the sauce. But, I guess most people who order carbonara craves a dish that’s sinful and hearty, this definitely fits the bill. 


On the other hand, the arrabiata ($19) is the complete opposite. The dish is filled with al dente penne tossed with a thick tomato sauce that has such a delicious angry bite. Given it’s a smaller portion and lighter, you’ll want to add on a heartier appetizer if you get this as a main. The baked eggplant ($16) is a great choice. Two big thick slices of grilled eggplant sandwiching gorgonzola cheese studded with grape tomatoes and smothered with tomato sauce. All together it’s a creamy combination and the lighter blue cheese, which normally isn’t an ingredient I enjoy, pairs well with the earthy eggplant and tangy sauce. Although, if I had the option to substitute the gorgonzola for mozzarella or ricotta, I’d still make the switch.


Yet, my favourite pasta has got to be the frutti di mare ($27) and will be my go-to order during weekends. The linguine is done perfectly and tossed in a chunky tomato and onion sauce filled with seafood: three large prawns, a plump scallop, a passable section of crab leg, calamari rings, clams, and tons of mussels! Best yet the seafood was not overdone and cooked with the sauce to really infuse it with the seafood essence. 


Most of the starters and mains we tried still leaned heavily towards an Italian heritage. Their desserts is where it expands into different European territories, with a small but varied selection: strawberry pavlova, chocolate soufflé, a tart, and gelato. Excited for the soufflé ($12) what actually arrives would generally be considered a molten lava cake. While it was a very good rendition of the dessert – hot, rich, and filled with chocolate flavour without being sugary – the molten centre isn’t the same as an airy soufflé.


They’re a great neighbourhood restaurant, the service outstandingly friendly. My husband, who worked in Europe for a couple of years, noted it did remind him of the restaurants he visited while travelling around. At the end of the meal, they even offered us a shot of lemoncello or Zoladkowa Gorzka (an herby orange liqueur), a digestive to start the digestion process.


I urge the chef to expand the menu to include more non-Italian dishes, something from Poland would be great! Until then, I’ll be returning to enjoy the seafood pasta, with a shot of Zoladkowa Gorzka, which ends the meal with a warm fuzzy feeling.


Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1552 Avenue Road

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: