Showing posts with label fresh pasta. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fresh pasta. Show all posts

Francobollo (Toronto) for delivery


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

I admire how well Toronto restaurants are pivoting during this time of adversity. For some establishments, like Francobollo, the shifts push them further, quickly morphing from a place that was dine-in only to providing delivery and curb-side pick-up. How does a fine dining restaurant change its operations and offerings?

Dishes like their burrata ($22) are ideal dine-out options. The creamy cheese tastes great at room temperature and as it oozes into the accompanying produce, it’s something you’d likely combine anyways. The food quality doesn’t deteriorate: the tomatoes are surprisingly flavourful for late winter (this order originally happened in late March) and the arugula bright and fresh. Francobollo even thinks to send warmed baguette slices that are a must with the starter.

Others do not fair as well. One of my favourite dishes is the decadent gnocchi ‘Terra’ style ($27), the combination of crisped gnocchi with sweet grilled corn, roasted peppers, onions, and peas, in a roasted garlic truffle sauce is absolutely intoxicating.

What makes it particularly amazing is the crust on the pan-fried gnocchi that gives way to its soft centre. Once that sits in sauce in a closed container, the crust vanishes and the pasta turns soft – still good, but that lovely contrast disappears. I’ve even tried re-heating it in a pan the next day, willing the crust to form, but couldn’t re-create the experience.

Of the pasta dishes, the tomato-based sauces seem to work best. After a quick nuke in the microwave to get it hot, the short rib tagliatelle ($24) was remarkably similar to how it normally tastes in the restaurant. Perhaps the portion was bigger, chocked full of short ribs and ribbons of pasta with enough for another meal.

Meanwhile, the creamy rosé sauce in the lobster pappardelle ($29) turns a bit gluey and if you add water to it starts to dilute the existing flavours. At least the dish incorporated large chunks of wonderfully cooked lobster. Based on their latest offerings in late May, it appears the chef realized this and has taken the pappardelle off the menu.

In fact, they now adjust their menu weekly, offering seasonal options and a 3-course Sunday’licious prix-fixe ranging from $45 (for vegan) to $55 (for meat). They’re even expanding into vegan dishes such as panko-crusted lentil cake and cashew-based cheesecake, things I haven’t seen in past visits. Keep up this gusto, the move towards plant-based mains is a great one to help expand the customer base!

What hasn’t changed is their hospitality, such as the little touches like including grated parmesan in the order to sprinkle to your heart’s content.

Pan-fried gnocchi, until we meet again.


Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1959 Avenue Road
 Delivery: store delivery, Uber Eats, 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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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

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

CLOSED: La Cascina (Toronto)


Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 1552 Avenue Road
Type of Meal: Dinner


When an Italian friend recommends an Italian restaurant, you know it has to be decent. Located on Avenue Road directly across from the luxury grocery store Pusataries and sandwiched between a Greek restaurant and a dry cleaner, La Cascina has an unassuming façade and might be missed.  But, someone must know it’s there because we found the restaurant 80% full with the remaining tables reserved – our table sat ready for us with a personalized reservation sign on it.

What you’ll find at La Cascina is authentic cuisine from the Abruzzo region.  No, it’s not the meatballs of Sicily or the pizza of Naples.  Instead, Chef Rosso serves up stewed legumes & vegetables, whole fishes and house made pastas doused with fragrant olive oil. 

Having owned a restaurant in Italy, he came to Canada and decided to restart the restaurant (with the same name) to share the “agriturismo” experience with Canadians.  What exactly is this?  It’s the concept of “agriculture tourism” popular in Italy that invites tourists to go to rural resorts and enjoy meals produced with locally farmed ingredients. Of course, it’s doubtful everything served at La Cascina is made in Toronto, but the understatedly presented dishes of wholesome foods sure taste homemade.

La Cascina isn’t a place to visit to grab a quick bite.  Service is unhurried with our meal turning into a three hour affair. Upon being seated water is poured but some time goes by before the wine menu is presented.  Dinner menus came afterwards allowing customers to focus on one thing at a time.  

How food is ordered is an interesting concept – first you receive a menu with only the chef’s selections of the day, after having time to peruse this then the full menu is given.  Who were we to argue with what the chef knows best? We stuck with his recommendations for the antipasto, pasta and because we visited on a Friday could also try their famed fish.  The waitress warns that sharing is encouraged as serving sizes are large and meat dishes arrive without sides so ordering just the fish would make for an interesting meal.

A standard plate of bread arrives, which in itself is nothing special.  What makes it shine is the great olive oils that accompany it – one plain and the other spicy.  The plain one has such a robust taste; it’s making me reconsider purchasing the Greek variety and buying Abruzzo region ones instead. 



The antipasto La Cascina ($28 for two people) began with a charcuterie dish with two slices of capicola, salami and sopressata.  All were not overly salty with a light curing so that the taste of the spices shone through, the sopressata was my favourite with some heat left on the tongue after eating.  On the red cabbage were slices of cheese that is a harder variety but yet smooth in texture and doesn’t crumble which was enjoyable.  


Dishes in the middle contained white beans mixed with pickled onion and garlic which was surprisingly delicious and I’d like to have as a bean salad any day.  Large green olives were in the other and not overly briny so even people who detest olives may want to try these. Lastly, slices of paper thin pears were on the platter adding some sweetness to the dish in place of the typical cantaloupe.

The second part of the antipasto were five clay pots containing hot stewed items including spelt with sundried tomatoes (one of my favourite dishes and cooked well so that the grains broke through and had a slight creaminess to it), lentils with carrots (surprisingly rich on account of being stewed in olive oil), eggplant with scrambled eggs (simple and tastes exactly as it sounds), stewed beets (enjoyed that they didn’t add any further sweet elements to it so that the naturalness of the beets were showcased) and dandelions with turbot (the greens were lightly wilted so it retained its crispiness while the fish had an interesting brined texture without being salted).



Next came a bowl of fettuccine con castagne, funghi e fagioli ($20) which was the highlight of the meal. The pasta was thicker and wider than most fettuccini and although cooked al dante was still soft throughout and had some elasticity. Unlike other pastas, there wasn’t a drop of marinara or cream in it.  Rather, the pasta, chestnuts, mushrooms and white beans were flavoured with a simple oil and herb mixture that was delicious.  The dish was certainly large enough for sharing and even though made with simple ingredients was fairly flavourful with hints of earthiness throughout.



You may know the orata con finocchio ($44) as sea bream or brandini.  This white fish arrived whole with the middle spine removed, stuffed with fennel and celery then roasted whole. It was cooked perfectly so that the fish flaked apart but was still tender and moist.  The stuffing really didn’t add much in terms of taste but I have a feeling helped keep the moistness in the fish.  I personally enjoy simply prepared fresh fish so found this dish pleasant.  But, there were still smaller bones left around some areas of the fish so I’d be mindful while eating to avoid any hazards.



Accompanying the fish was a simple mixed salad ($6) made with arugula, romaine, tomato and a dressing of olive oil & light red wine vinegar. I like the Italian tradition of ending with salad because the acid from the vinegar helps with digestion and if you’re really stuffed you can easily skip this course.



The only disappointment of the night was the dessert, tiramisu di Luca ($8), where we didn’t follow the chef’s suggestion – always stick with what he suggests!  My friend and I both found it way too sweet and lacked the espresso flavour we were craving that would help cut through the sugar and moisten the lady fingers.  La Cascina’s version is topped with chopped chocolate shavings rather than unsweetened chocolate powder which adds a crunchiness against the smoothness of the mascarpone cheese.  Some may like the contrast, but I prefer this dish in its traditional format so could have done without the hard chocolate bits.



La Cascina’s vibe is great; the unhurried service where conversations are encouraged and time given to savour each course.  The staff were always attentive frequently filling our water and wine glasses and cleaning off the tables of all crumbs in between each course.  A jovial atmosphere exists with patrons laughing loudly giving you a sense of how life may be like in a small rural village.  So, if you’re coming for a romantic date, I suggest you try requesting a table by the window which may help you focus more on your date. All in all, I love the authenticness of La Cascina’s creations and look forward to trying more of Chef Rosso’s delightful pastas.

Overall mark - 8.5 out of 10




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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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La Cascina on Urbanspoon