Showing posts with label caesar salad. Show all posts
Showing posts with label caesar salad. 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
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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!

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Coppi Ristorante (Toronto)


Coppi’s dining room is a tribute to Italian cyclist Fausto Coppi and you’ll notice elements of the sport throughout: from trail posters; spokes on the wall; to, my favourite, a whimsical fish made from bicycle parts. It’s an interesting choice of décor for a restaurant whose menu and overall ambiance is nothing like a sports bar. Rather, diners should expect classic Italian dishes that have a heavier focus on seafood.


Their signature dish, the pesce al sale ($43), takes a whole fish and bakes it encrusted in salt. Wheeled out still in the salty tomb, the fish is quickly filleted and dressed in a light lemon butter sauce. 


While the dish looks huge, after fileting the meat what’s leftover is smaller than you’d expect, but nonetheless sufficient as a main for one. The sea bass was remarkably moist and tender with such a clean taste that even someone who doesn’t like fish could be converted.


The risotto frutti di mare ($44) serves two, but with a few appetizers this could be stretched for three people (pictured below is a single portion). Dotted throughout the risotto were bits of clams, shrimp, squid, octopus and bay scallops all evenly disbursed so each bite had a couple of seafood items and helped to thoroughly scent the rice. Tuck in as soon as it arrives as it’s a lovely consistency but a tad more cooked than normal; should be it left longer, it may become too soft.


Coppi offers a variety of appetizers but truthfully the choices are rather safe and nothing seemed overly exciting. Their Caesar salad ($15) is heavy on the anchovy and light on garlic, making the flavours subtler and ideal for those who want a lighter tasting version of the salad. The burrate caprese ($19) is simple combination of quality ingredients: a decent portion of burrata mozzarella, grape tomatoes, and rich and bright olive oil that went especially well with the warm heavily salted baguette.


Personally, I rather have an appetizer portion of pasta instead. The pappardelle in the mare d monte ($18) arrives as silky slightly chewy ribbons and the sauce a light combination of shrimp, mushrooms, and tomato. It’s a great blend of sweet seafood, earthy fungi, and just a hint of something fresh.


The spaghetti used in the chitarra tirreno ($26 for a main portion) is interestingly square-shaped and could be a tad more al dante. Regardless, the san Marzano tomato sauce mixed with all the seafood tastes wonderful and is that lighted umami-laced tomato sauce I love with seafood pasta.


Seeing the baba di ricotta ($13) we were instantly intrigued to try an Italian version of rum baba, a traditional French dessert. A funnel of sponge cake is wrapped around sweetened ricotta, which is a great addition. However, the cake is hardly “soaked” in the rum syrup mixture as described on the menu and any rum flavour is non-existent. When I order this dessert, I want that hit of alcohol against the tongue before the sugar shines through! This is better described as sponge cake filled with ricotta and drizzled with sugar water.


Coppi’s tiramisu ($13) uses most of the typical ingredients (lady fingers, espresso, and mascarpone cream). Yet, seems to leave out the zabaglione layer so the dessert is creamy and sweet but doesn’t have that rich egg custard that really makes the dessert. It’s a bit disappointing when tiramisu at an upscale Italian restaurant is only a touch better than one found at the supermarket.


There are a number of Italian restaurants to choose from around the Yonge-Lawrence neighbourhood. Coppi’s menu trends towards being an upscale establishment and offers excellent mains and decent appetizers but passable desserts. What truly sets Coppi apart is the ambiance: space exists between tables and the table itself is also larger (where they sit two people, in other restaurants it’d hold four). The timing of dishes is also well-paced to allow a brief pause between dishes, but still quick enough to keep things under two hours. It’s a place that you’ll want to stay and catch up longer with guests. Just load up on the delicious pasta, maybe you won’t even need dessert.

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3363 Yonge 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:


Coppi Ristorante Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Burger Cellar (Toronto)


Tucking into a burger is much easier during the summer – there’s always the option to make them myself on the barbeque. With the mercury dropping, the smell of charred meat brings me back to the warmer months. So, when I need a burger pick-me-up, I head to Burger Cellar, a purveyor of high quality customizable burgers with a variety of toppings to choose from. Aside from the fixings, the restaurant also allows diners to select the:
  • Protein: Black Angus (prices below), turkey (additional $2), prime grade beef (additional $4), or organic bison (additional $6); and
  • Bun: the classic soft brioche, whole wheat, pretzel bun, or gluten free.
Their ultimate burger ($11.95) is a bit messy to eat, but the fresh garlicky kick from the bruschetta really makes the sandwich. Along with generous dollops of creamy goat cheese, a sweet and tangy balsamic reduction, roasted garlic aioli, plenty of salty crispy onions, and the traditional fixings (tomato, lettuce, pickle, and onion), it makes for a great burger. Even when the beef patty is cooked through, it still tastes juicy thanks, in part, to everything else.


Surprisingly, the duck dynasty ($11.95) isn’t as heavy as it sounds. While there’s a decent helping of barbeque duck confit on the beef patty, the coleslaw, crispy onions, and traditional garnishes helps keep it light. Don’t get me wrong, with melted cheddar, chipotle mayo, and duck confit, it is a richer burger but won’t leave you feeling sick.


While the toppings on the angry burger ($12.95) sound very spicy: jalapeño havarti, sherry peppercorn bacon, crispy jalapeños, and buffalo sauce laced mayonnaise, the heat isn’t overwhelming. If anything, the peppercorn crusted bacon is the most sting inducing. I love how the flavours work together and makes for a flavourful sandwich.


Sides are purchased separately and there are plenty of options. The tried and true fries ($4.95) appeared as long slices of skin-on skinny potatoes, but on both visits were lukewarm and bordering stale. Their sweet potato fries ($7.45) were much fresher, arriving crispy and hot with a side of chipotle mayo.


The Burger Cellar does make excellent beer-battered onion rings ($4.95), each a manageable size with enough coating for crunch but not overly heavy. Cut into thicker slices, it gave the onion rings a nice sweet flavour so the vegetable doesn’t get lost in the batter. 


During the winter, I like their French onion soup ($6.95). While it could be a touch hotter, the beef stock is flavourful thanks to the red wine and herbs and incorporates huge chunks of caramelized balsamic onions. Moreover, with the hefty portion of melted cheese on top, the soup hits the spot.  


For something lighter, their Caesar salad ($5.95) is always a good option. The dressing is a bit light on the garlic, but with some fresh cracked pepper it’s nonetheless a decent salad.


While the menu promotes the house-made flaky buttery crust used in the chocolate pecan pie ($6.95), what arrives has very little crust and is so flat that it can hardly be classified as flaky. Burger Cellar doesn’t skimp on the pecans; the nuts dominate the dessert so it’s more like eating sticky pecans doused in a caramel chocolate sauce than really a pie. I would have liked a better balance of pastry, but if you love nuts, this is the one for you.


Winter doesn’t need to be a barbeque-free season. Thanks to Burger Cellar, I can still get my juicy burger fix.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3391 Yonge 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:

The Burger Cellar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

CLOSED: Table 21 Kitchen & Wine Bar (Toronto)

When I first entered Table 21 a feeling of déjà vu settled over me. The restaurant was certainly new, I’ve never dined there before, but the dining room looked so familiar. Thankfully, almost all my meals are well documented on Gastro World, so upon looking up the west end Toronto restaurants, I realize Table 21 replaced Stratosphere Gastrolounge, and with it the menu has gone from upscale pub fare to stick-to-your-ribs Italian.

With heavier mains, my husband and I both decided to stick with salads to start. The caprese ($12) was simple but used fresh ingredients: the beef steak tomato was juicy and ripe, the mozzarella cheese fresh so it had a nice soft chewiness, and there was just enough pesto to add interest to the salad. While the Caesar ($10) had a light coating of dressing, don’t let the lack of cream sauce fool you; the salad was still flavourful with a particularly strong parmesan kick (albeit lighter on the garlic so wasn’t overpowering).


In the mood for a meatless dinner, the asparagus risotto ($18) was a good choice. The rice’s consistency was spot on – incorporating enough broth so it was creamy and not a thick paste, but not oversaturated as to become a stew – and there were sufficient asparagus pieces mixed throughout for crunch. More shaved parmesan would make the dish even better, especially since it was under seasoned (luckily, there was salt at the table so the dish was easily improved).

Table 21 Toronto asparagus risotto

While the brown butter gnocchi ($18) smelt heavenly, the actual pasta was too mushy. To be fair, the firmness of gnocchi is a debatable preference: some like it doughy and soft (how it’s prepared at Table 21) while others, like me, prefer the dough to have a bit of elasticity, and when there are crispy edges, even better. The brown butter sage sauce was delicious, adding a light sweetness to the gnocchi and paired well with the roasted cremini mushrooms.

Table 21 brown butter gnocchi

The beef short rib ($29) is a popular choice; we weren’t the only table ordering it. I can see why, the dish is fantastic. The towering bone-in rib doesn’t require a knife having been slow-braised and has a tangy kick from being smothered in a whiskey infused barbeque sauce. On the side, sweet roasted heirloom carrots and rosemary smashed potatoes that have lovely crispy edges, which adds a bit of crunch against the otherwise tender plate.

Table 21 Etobicoke Toronto beef short ribs

Since my in-laws have just moved to Etobicoke, a whole new slew of neighbourhood restaurants have opened up to the palette. Table 21 is a lovely start: the restaurant’s food is refined but comforting and the laid-back atmosphere a welcoming environment. And next time I entered, there won’t be that sense of déjà vu.  

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 2956 Bloor Street West
 

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:



Table 21 Kitchen & Wine Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Parmigiano Trattoria (Toronto)


There’s no shortage of Italian restaurants on Yonge Street between York Mills and Lawrence. Wood burning oven pizzas, heaping bowls of pasta, and generously portioned mains are abound. Having visited a number them, my favourite (by a slight margin) is Parmigiano Trattoria, located on the south end of the strip. Their weathered looking signage and exposed brick dining room brings me back to the narrow trattorias in Italy, their homey comforting dishes even more so.

Offering a single piece of bruschetta ($1.50) is a fantastic idea, a satisfying nibble before the mains arrive without ruining the appetite. The bread is both chewy and crispy and the restaurant’s definitely not stingy on the fresh garlicky tomato topping.


Their soup or salad is also a good starter. The broth of the seafood wedding soup ($7.50), a daily special, was a little weak (perhaps adding more shrimp shells to the broth would help). Nonetheless, it was still hearty due to the abundance of other ingredients including shrimp, bay scallops, various diced vegetables, and tiny acini de pepe pasta. For the price, the soup was a sizeable portion. As for the salad, I love the slight horseradish kick in their Caesar ($8), it leaves an unexpected lingering as the lightly dressed garlicky lettuce disappears.


You’re not going to want to fill up on starters as Parmigiano’s mains are sizeable. The eggplant parmesan ($16) consists of a number of deep fried slices smothered in gooey mozzarella and a flavourful thick tomato sauce. It's salty, chewy, and the edges adding a light crunch. When eggplant is this good, why do you even need meat? The dinner version arrives with a handful of crunchy vegetables and a choice of roasted potatoes or pasta. I, of course, opted for the later and the simple al dente spaghetti paired so nicely with the cheesy eggplant.


The baked chicken pasta ($16.50) is an equally hefty portion. The penne is done well and arrives piping hot mixed with chunks of chicken, roasted peppers, and sundried tomatoes. Dig to the bottom of the dish where you’ll find the creamy tomato sauce accumulates, whereas bites from the top are greeted with mostly cheese.


Even their pizzas can be shared. Try as I might, I couldn’t finish the Mediterranean ($16), its thin crust topped with a variety of vegetables (eggplant, roasted red pepper, red onion, spinach), mozzarella, and goat cheese. With the sheer amount of ingredients and adequate sauce, the crust does get soft in the middle, but there's still a chewiness to the dough and the flavours make up for it.


While the seafood pesto pasta ($32) is pricier compared to other pastas, the restaurant doesn’t skimp on the shrimp, scallop, and mini lobster tails … the pasta to seafood ratio was equal! The special for the evening was described as incorporating pesto, capers, and olives (all stronger ingredients); even so, the flavours weren’t overwhelming and combined nicely with the citrus.


Make sure to save room for desserts, their homemade selection had us finishing every forkful despite being stuffed. Parmigiano’s tiramisu ($7) has a strong hit of marsala wine and actually incorporates zabaglione, a spiked custard layer; too often places simply rely on plain espresso to combat the sweet creamy mascarpone, the rich zabaglione really helps add an extra depth to the cake.


The height of the crème caramel ($6) is astounding. Its consistency is creamier and fluffier than what I’ve previously tasted, it seems like there’s less gelatin and more egg in their version. Rich and luscious the dessert is like indulging in a crème caramel cheesecake (without the cheese). Even the crisp triangular cookie on top is good, I ate every crumb.


When I’m craving Italian, Parmigano is one of my go-to restaurants in the neighbourhood. From the bruschetta to eggplant parmesan and ending with a crème caramel, a delicious carb-filled journey across the Italian cuisine landscape.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3186 Yonge 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:



Parmigiano Trattoria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Gene's (New York)

New York City certainly has its fill of restaurants, from a diverse range of cultures and celebrity chefs, it seems like there’s another “it” place to visit every week. Still, it boasts a number of long-running institutions and during this visit, I wanted to dine at an old school red sauce Italian restaurant, somewhere that would even satisfy Tony Soprano. While most of the Italian American restaurants are in Queens and Brooklyn, Gene’s is located in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, a manageable walk from our hotel.

Started by Gene DeMichaelis in 1919, I was glad to see it hasn’t been updated much since the 50s - dim lighting, a quiet ambience, antique oil paintings, and staff wearing suits with short jackets - this was the restaurant I was looking for. Each table even receives the traditional crudités on ice and bread basket that’s synonymous with old school fine-dining. The mammoth-sized radishes would be like eating an apple, but the celery and carrot sticks were surprisingly crunchy and satisfying. In preparation for the carbohydrates to come, I only had a bite from the bread basket, which turned out to be pumpernickel studded with raisins (sounds weird but actually rather delicious).


Although the Caesar salad ($13.95) isn’t made table-side, the dressing seems house-made. While you taste the garlic, the anchovy and Parmesan flavours are also pronounced, so despite the salad not being heavily dressed, it was full of flavour.


Their linguine in white clam sauce ($19.95) incorporates the clam juice, olive oil, and garlic base I look for with seafood pastas. On its own the broth was a tad salty, but with the al dente linguine the sauce was perfect. Moreover, the sweet clams were a larger variety and came removed from their shell and cut into larger chunks. It made eating the pasta a breeze and ensured it didn’t have any gritty bits from the clams. It was a delicious main and also paired nicely with the side of spinach aglio olio ($11.95), a hefty plate of greens stir fried with olive oil and garlic.


Gene’s eggplant parmigiana ($15.95) is constructed as layers of eggplant, sauce, and cheese so the dish ends up resembling a richer lasagna than the typical deep fried eggplant slices. It’s a big portion, but you can’t feel like it could still use some pasta. Accordingly, if paired with a plate as spaghetti marinara and shared with another person, it’d be even better.


Unlike other places in New York where a cocktail will set you back $16, at Gene’s we found a reasonably priced bottle of merlot for $24 and their pour of Magellan 18 year old scotch ($32) must have been close to 3 ounces. Judging by the number of people seated around their bar, Gene’s seems to be a popular place for drinks and light snacks as well.


Their tiramisu ($8.95; cake pictured below is a half order as they kindly split it) incorporates zabaglione, a luscious egg custard, with enough marsala wine for an adult zip of flavour. It helps balance out the sweetness of the mascarpone and ensures the tiramisu doesn’t just taste like espresso and unsweetened chocolate powder.


While visiting a city, I always strive to try their local cuisine. In a diverse city like New York, this mandate may be difficult since their food combines so many worldly flavours. Nonetheless, their American take on Italian cuisine is probably some of the best in the city and is a stop on the culinary tour that shouldn’t be missed.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: New York, USA
 Address: 73 West 11th 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:


Gene's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato