Showing posts with label carbonara. Show all posts
Showing posts with label carbonara. Show all posts

12 Tables (Toronto) for delivery

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

The moment I lifted the hefty box of fruitti di mare ($17) pasta out of the bag, I knew it was going to be a good meal. The aluminum container was still blistering hot and the dome no match for the lovely seafood aroma that soon filled the kitchen. With bated breath I quickly snapped a few pictures before transferring the pasta to a plate and tucking in… oh my!

While the spaghetti wasn’t necessarily al dante, the pasta was still a great consistency and tossed with ample sauce so it didn’t clump together as some delivery pasta dishes can become. By and large the seafood was still cooked well - the prawns plump and the calamari nicely done – only the shellfish (mussel, clams, and split crab leg) were perhaps a little more shrunken than normal, but still good.

It’s the sauce that keeps me re-ordering this dish. The tomatoes taste so summery and infused with all the seafood flavours with a mellow garlic finish. Don’t let the extras go to waste: it’s perfect for dipping their soft fresh bread into, several slices arriving with the delivery order.

12 Tables makes their own sauces, including the salad dressings. While the Caesar salad ($15) was a bit too saturated for my taste, the dressing was at least a well-balanced concoction combining just enough anchovy and garlic to really create that umami-laced sauce without each element being too prominent.

With this order, my husband and I were in the mood for our all-time favourite 12 Tables pastas and for him, it’s their carbonara ($20). It’s sinfully good, the noodles sitting in a thick creamy sauce (the dish is offered with or without cream) that has a healthy blast of pancetta and just a bit of black pepper. If you’re in the mood for something rich, you can’t go wrong with the carbonara.

Sadly, the missing element was an aperitif shot with the owner – a digestive alcohol and some conversation is such a great way to let the meal sink in. Like shavasana for the stomach. We tried to recreate the experience by having another glass of wine. Don’t judge, you do what you can to keep the tradition alive. 

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


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


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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!

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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

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:



Padella Italian Eatery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mangia & Bevi (Toronto)


It’s been years since I’ve visited Mangia & Bevi for a pizza lunch. Finding myself in the area, around the dinner hour, a return visit was in order. If the restaurant was already hard to find during the day, at night, the main door is closed so you’ll need to walk past the complex on King and turn left on a small side street to reach them. For some establishments prominent store frontage is everything; for Mangia & Bevi they appear to rather serve those “in the know”.

The restaurant can sling out hearty pizzas with crispy crusts. Having tried it before, I focused this visit on their house-made pastas, especially after seeing clams vongole ($22) on the menu. The white wine garlic and leek sauce was perfect, so it was a shame that my first bite into a clam was gritty. Sadly, it wasn’t a lone occurrence; most of them ended up being sandy. Moreover, with the thin olive oil based sauce, the fresh pasta soaked up so much of the liquid it became soft – my personal preference for thin sauces is dry pasta, which stands a better chance at remaining al dente.


A better option was my friend’s carbonara ($21), which had a balanced richness: there was enough creamy sauce on the chewy fresh pasta to coat it with flavour, you could taste the pancetta and the kitchen didn’t skimp on parmigiano, but it wasn’t too heavy. The pasta would be even better if the sauce incorporated more black pepper.


So, while the pasta was decent, there’s a reason people go for the pizza. I wish you luck on finding the restaurant.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 260 King Street East

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:



Mangia & Bevi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato