Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Lately in food...

Papa Giuseppe's Pizza and Pints, 26 Lakeshore Road E, Port Credit
Checkered table cloths, straw covered bottles of Chianti and an oven that cranks out pizza at a toasty 800 degrees all make for a truly Italiana experience.  The dough is good. It is blistered with a dark brown crust and slightly bubbled mozzarella. A little bit crispy and a little bit chewy.  Its' sauce is right too; a hint of basil and a touch of tang.  My Italian heart breaks when they take a decent crust and good sauce and add crappy cheese and grocery store fixings.  The Calabrese ($15) has way too much sauce for it's thin crust to handle.  It's mushy.  The green olives are the sliced ones from the can and I will bet all my Nonno's money that the sopressata, capicolla and pepperoni are all courtesy of Maestro, you know, the kind you get at No Frills.  In our current gastronomic climate of premium or house made salumi, to serve such pedestrian ingredients, is an insult. 

The Ace, 31A Roncesvalles, Toronto
The owner of The Dakota has dusted off the tables and put in some real reno time at this vintage diner, turned Chinese restaurant that has been vacant for years and years.  What a nice homage to its' past.  The old counter and diner stools remain as does the Oriental wall paper from its' Chinese days.  We slip into the last booth for some late night mussels and frites ($9) and a few glasses of a Cali Chard.  The mussels are steamed and spiked with fresh chili and plenty of
onion.  The broth is light and the mussels are plump and fresh.  The frites are more like fries as they are on the thick side but are crispy nonetheless.  The original bathrooms are one of my favourite details.  An endearing step back in time but with a fresh and ever changing menu.

Cafe Nervosa, 75 Yorkville Avenue, Toronto
There's nothing new at this Yorkville staple and I've been many times before.  Never having been disappointed but never being wowed either.  A caprese salad ($15.99) is the best part of our meal.  Oven roasted cocktail tomatoes are still on the vine which I love.  They are warm and squishy.  The fiore di latte mozzarella is thick and smooth and the whole basil leaves do much better than being chiffonade.  Grilled Tuscan bread and a drizzle of olive oil mean that you can build your own bruschetta.  Unfortunately, a gummy fresh spaghetti and a lack of promised chillis, fresh herbs and olive oil in their pasta con vongole ($16.99) have me adding my own salt and olive oil in attempt to create some flavour. The clams are fresh but it's not enough.

Jumbo Burgers, 673 Runneymede Road, Toronto
I am burger obsessed.  They are one of my favourite comfort foods and I have used them to remedy many a hangover.  A recent article on featured Jumbo Burgers as one of the best old school burgers in Toronto .  The comment section was enough to send me there.  Well, I don't mean to sound like a food snob (that might be a lie) but what the hell are these people talking about? This burger was easily one of the worst ones I have ever eaten.  Thank god it only set me back $3.70 because this is one disappointing burger.  First of all, it's not jumbo.  It's barely bigger than a McDonald's patty. Oh wait, maybe the jumbo refers to the huge bun that this sad little patty sits between?  It's only saving grace was the char-grilled flavour.  Your topping choices include tomato, pickles, ketchup, relish, mustard, onions and mayo that is sitting room temp on the counter.  No thanks on the mayo and how can you have a burger without lettuce?? The rings were freezer burnt and after struggling through three, I threw them out.  This place has been around for decades but I have no idea how they have lasted.  A total waste of calories.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

I spent my last days of 2011 up north with friends eating and drinking way too much and although I'm on a bit of a new year detox, there is alot of places that I look forward to dining at and things that I can't wait to eat.  I've said it many times but I will say it again, not only to I love to eat out but I love telling my "stories".  Good or bad, I always hope to be your dining compass.

Toronto is a great city for eating out and there has been a lot of excitement about some of the new places that have opened.  On my current 'to eat' list is The Westerly, Pizzeria Defina , The Ace , Enoteca Maialino and Grand Electric and shame on me for not having been to Porchetta & Co. or Agave y Aguacate yet .

Stay tuned friends...

Here's hoping for some new trends to take over some of the old ones that we have been subjected to over the last couple of years.  Although I love bacon, I can't wait to see that trend die.  Bacon gum?  Ridiculous.  The concept of a food truck selling something other than french fries is uber exciting but unfortunatley with all the red tape in Toronto, this might be something we have to just give up on?!  Sorry Suresh!/spotlightcity , every party has a pooper.  I also am over "local" and "organic" and "artisanal".  Why did we ever give bonus points for how we should be eating in the first place?  I do not buy tomatoes or berries in the winter and neither should you.  Let's make reducing our carbon footprint a common practice not a 'pat on the back' opportunity. 

I also don't pay $15 for a cocktail so can we maybe work on the elitist cocktail concoctions as well?

Criticisms aside (I prefer to view them as challenges) let's continue to celebrate what our wonderful city has to offer.

I look forward to continuing to fill you in on what's great and what's not so great and I hope that you continue to read my madness.  I am grateful for you support and I wish you all the very best for 2012!

Rita Ricchio