Showing posts with label meatballs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label meatballs. Show all posts

Pizzeria Libretto (Toronto)

At last, Pizzeria Libretto has opened a larger location, conveniently located downtown and takes reservations! Of course, it’s no longer the mom and pop shop on Ossington having expanded to three locations with a fourth on the way. However, they are still Vera Pizza Napoletana (VPN) certified, essentially ensuring preparation of the pizza follow standards that make it truly Neapolitan.

Since it was my first real meal at the restaurant, we went with two titled dishes – the Libretto meatballs ($10) and Libretto Margherita ($17) pizza.  Plump and fluffy, the meatballs were flavourful without heaviness. A classic marinara, shavings of Grana Padano and crusty toasted bread finished off the delicious appetizer.


The pizza was less impressive with large pieces of crushed tomatoes overwhelming the rest of the ingredients and making the pizza soggy. Moreover, the ingredients were heavily concentrated towards the centre of the pie leaving large swaths of crust areas plain.


A VPN Neapolitan crust is generally softer as it’s supposed to be kneaded and formed by hand, thinly formed and cooked at a high heat for no more than 90 seconds. In the end, there wouldn’t be the crisp bottom, but rather a fragrant blistered crust with an elastic chewiness. At Libretto, they met these requirements.

We should have gone with the duck confit pizza ($17), which although not traditional, is a lovely combination of salty duck breast, sweet bosc pear and caramelized onions. Moreover, a $1 from each pizza is donated to Mealshare to help feed others.


To balance off the meal, we split an arugula salad ($9) that had a lovely balanced Ontario Gamay vinaigrette and plenty of toppings (crisp walnuts, juicy pear and a neutral piave cheese).



Libretto’s tiramisu ($7) is worth a try if you love the Italian dessert as much as I do. Arriving in a mason jar was the first sign that the tiramisu would be moist and creamy. Sure enough, the cookie layers were soaked with plenty of espresso, adding a fragrant bitterness against the sweet mascarpone cream. A delicious ending to a comforting meal.


Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 155 University 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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Pizzeria Libretto Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sip Wine Bar (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 2 Broadway Avenue
Website: http://www.sipwinebar.ca/
Type of Meal: Dinner

Newly opened on a quiet street close to Yonge and Eglinton, Sip Wine Bar already has quite the following as seen by the packed restaurant during a Saturday visit. Their décor is simplistic with wooden tables, exposed cream bricks and tons of light bulbs hanging from the ceiling. Aside from the dining room on the main floor, the restaurant offers a private dining area downstairs (with its own bar) that would be perfect for parties.

With tons of delicious sounding items on the menu, my friends and I decided to order a selection of dishes and share family style. First up was the fittura mista ($15.95) or deep fried shrimp and calamari. Arriving piping hot we couldn’t get enough of these lightly dusted nuggets of salty seafood. Of course, things that are deep fried are inherently delicious, but these shrimp and calamari were tender and didn’t feel too greasy or heavy.


On the other hand, the polpette di Luisa ($8.95) or meatballs with tomato sauce was a bit lackluster – possibly because I ate this second. Served lukewarm it didn’t have the same freshly made feel of the fittura mista; to me it seemed like they were spooned out of heating dish with spring mix tossed on the side. The meatballs and sauce itself tasted decent, but could have benefited from some cheese and/or herbs sprinkled on top.


We had to try their pizzas, given Sip’s AVPN accredited status (essentially an association that sets up regulations to ensure the standards of making Neapolitan pizza is maintained). The first was the capricciosa ($16.99) a pizza loaded with mushrooms, prosciutto, artichokes, olives, mozzarella and basil. The crust was certainly Neapolitan with the blistered pockets of dough and paper thin crust. But, the amount of tomato sauce was a bit too generous making the middle soggy and causing the ingredients to slide off when you tried to move a slice onto the plate. Nonetheless, the toppings were abundant and flavours good if you don’t mind a mushy crust.


For a white pizza (olive oil rather than tomato sauce based), we tried the funghi porcini ($18.99) which was more simplistic highlighting porcinis with mozzarella, parmigiano, tomatoes and basil. In this case there was no soggy crust but the pizza also lacked flavour. Certainly you wouldn’t want to overwhelm the pizza and cover up the porcini’s woodsy taste, but even an additional drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of sea salt prior to serving would have been appreciated.


The gnocchi alla trevigiana ($16.95) was absolutely delicious. First off, Sip nailed the gnocchi texture I covet – soft and doughy yet still hard enough to have some bite so that it resembles pasta rather than mushy dough. Tssed a light gorgonzola cream sauce the hot pieces of gnocchi had just enough sauce to flavour it without being overly heavy. This would definitely be a dish I’d order again.


Sadly, their tiramisu was sold out by the time we arrived at the desserts.  Instead, we ordered the white chocolate cheesecake ($8.99) and the crème brulee ($9.95). The cheesecake was rich and had a great flavour – a mix of caramel and chocolate. Sip’s dessert chef does need to get the chocolate cookie base thinner; at almost ¾ inch thick we struggled to break through it so the cheesecake mixture ended up falling off. Then when it was eaten together the abundance of crust overwhelmed to smooth cheese base.


However, the cheesecake was a better choice than the crème brulee which arrived cold, had an uneven sugar crust (although in the centre was nice and thin) and the crème itself fairly watery. Again it had a nice vanilla flavour, but the execution needs some improvement.


Most of the media articles written about Sip focuses on their pizzas. But from our visit, my friends and I agree their other dishes are much better; even from scoping the table beside the lamb chop and chicken dishes looked appetizing. We were advised by our helpful waitress that Sip has a patio out front in the summer so a return visit may be in order to sample their pasta and meat dishes while enjoying a lovely summer evening outside.

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10

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____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • - 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!

Sip Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Montecito (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 299 Adelaide Street West
Website: http://www.montecitorestaurant.ca/
Type of Meal: Dinner



Amongst all the construction and scaffolding along Adelaide, Montecito’s window filled building is an oasis of calm. With its two stories and a covered patio there’s plenty to observe. Even the faux “windows” on the back wall kept us entertained. Each showcases a video display with footage of views from co-owner Ivan Reitman’s home in Montecito, California. Every movement is subtle and you don’t fully realize it’s a video until a bird flies by or it switches to the traffic scene.

The Californian theme continues on their menu, which has plenty of meat, vegetables and Italian creations. And Italian seems to be what they do well as the meatballs ($19) were fantastic! The dish was so nicely balanced – the meatballs fairly dense but still tender and the polenta, tomato sauce and parmesan complementing each other. Serving them with creamy and buttery polenta was such a great idea; I loved slathering it and the smooth tomato sauce onto the meatball.


The prosciutto, peaches and mozzarella salad ($14) is a nice lighter dish for the summer time. It’s simple but allows the eater to focus on quality ingredients – paper thin cured prosciutto, sweet peaches and soft fresh mozzarella. Don’t be afraid to get a bit of everything in each bite. It’s when all the tastes and textures work together; especially if you like the sweet and salty elements.


I rarely order roasted chicken ($24) at a restaurant. But, when its owner Chef Jonathan Waxman’s signature dish it’s hard to resist. What makes it so special? Well, for one it’s unbelievably juicy! My knife glided through it as easily as cutting through scallop (of course it helps that the chicken was deboned). But, the tenderness comes at a price – the middle of the chicken breast was ever so slightly pink. By no means was it raw, but being a little squeamish about under-cooked poultry, I decided not to chance it. Luckily, the portion was huge – you receive half a chicken – so leaving a bit behind didn’t matter.


The chicken’s skin was crispy and the salsa verde flavourful but not overpowering. Served with a frisee salad it’s good for mixing into the salsa verde oils and chicken juices that leak onto the plate. If you haven’t had the jw chicken before, it’s well worth a try.

My friend allowed me to try an ample piece of his Muscovy duck confit ($28), which would have been what I’d normally order. Also very tender, flavourful and having an extremely crispy skin, it was a good duck confit. I would have preferred less duck fat left under the skin as it was a little glutenous for my taste.


To end, we did not order the baked Alaska, which is served with a big Stay Puft marshmallow figurine (a homage to Ivan Reitman’s Ghostbuster films). Instead, we opted for a chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich ($10) which arrived quickly without the fanfare (although our friendly waiter did offer to bring us the doll anyways if we wanted).


The cookies were chewy and soft. Sandwiched in between was pistachio ice cream which became overpowered by the chocolate syrup so ended up tasting more like almond. But, it was still delicious and I liked that Montecito makes the sandwich ahead of time and refreezes it so it doesn’t melt too quickly.

All in all, Montecito is a welcomed addition to Adelaide. Prices are reasonable, the dishes delicious and portions a good size. They have plenty of different sized tables and areas to accommodate larger groups. It already proved itself to be a popular destination during TIFF.  I sense that as the holidays start arriving, it will be popular with the corporate crowd as well.


Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


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____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • - 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!

Montecito on Urbanspoon