La Vecchia

2405A Yonge Street
416 489-0630

 

Justine and I, both picky eaters needed a nice, calm place to have dinner one night. We wanted to stay in her area (Yonge and Eglinton) since she was not feeling well. While walking up Yonge and browsing the restaurants, we decided it was safe to eat Italian. I knew that my favourite cuisine (Thai and Indian) would not agree with Justine’s stomach so I settled for Italian. Justine and I chose to dine at the fine restaurant she had heard rave reviews about : La Vecchia.

Inside, the restaurant was very busy and very dark, but not noisy like Seven Numbers. The ambiance is very similar to Seven Numbers but much more expensive. The decor is gorgeous, dimly lit like Seven Numbers, with stone interior, with a traditional Mediterranean feel, with a classic trendy touch: Black and White photographs of famous people spread throughout the restaurant. Tables had real tablecloths and linen napkins and extremely comfortable seats.

With a large selection of wines and menu items divided into appetizers (antipasto), insalatas (salads), secondi (meat and fish), contorni (pasta), and pizzas. La Vecchia comprises one large dining room divided into three sections- the front facing Yonge street, the middle facing the bar, and the back- more quiet, dark, and cosy

Justine complained that there was only one single stall washroom which she thought was not very practical. La Vecchia also has three separate menus for lunch, brunch, and dinner.
The brunch menu includes a variety of traditional favourities like crepes, waffles, and French toast. As well, light fruit plates are served as well as traditional egg dishes but with an Italian twist . Some crepes include crepes filled with kiwis and smothered in strawberry sauce and French toast with Blueberry preserve and maple syrup, as well as light crepes filled with berries and smothered in chocolate sauce and whipped cream. Traditional favourites include: eggs benedict, eggs florentine, and eggs with grilled steak, and over 10 types of frittatas with a combination of cheeses, vegetables, and meats. Some frittatas include frittata vegetariana, frittata gamberi, frittata al salmon, frittata carina, frittata di capra, frittata la vecchia, all are served with house salad and toasted calabrese.Sandwiches (on foccacia bread) include rustico, montanaro, americano, and genovese.

Lunch items include a bruschetta on calabrese bread, minestrone soup, antipasto, Insalata Caprese (Italian salad) , Insalata Caesare (Caesar Salad), Casanuova, Insalata Di Mare (seafood salad), Insalata Verde (spinach, wild mushrooms, greens, and goat cheese), Insalata Mediterrneano (Mediterranean), Insalata Di Pollo (Salad with marinated grilled vegetables), grilled calamari, and sandwiches served on foccaccia bread. Also served for lunch are mini pastas: capellini ciociara, rigatoni romani, linguine primavera, penne arrabiata, penne alla vodka, fusili saraceno, orecchiette picante. Homemade pasta includes tagliatelle biancaneve, tortellini ortolana, agnolotti di monte, ravioli r. benigni, gnocchi pomodoro, risotto primavera, risotto po, and risotto del giorno

Secondi (meat and fish) dishes include: scallopine mastroianni, scallopine piemonte,pollo savoia, gamberi marina, salmon dell’ atlantico, pesce del giorno, mini pizza with salad, mini margherita, mini calabrese, mini quatro stagioni, mini potente, mini vegetariana. Whole pizzas include armani, and contadina.

The dinner menu is almost identical to lunch menu but prices are more expensive and portions are much bigger. The dinner menu offers more varities of Calamari and Bruschetta and more pizza combinations. (pizza margherita, pizza vegetariana, pizza contadina, pizza la vecchia, pizza castello, pizza capricciosa, pizza san siro, pizza bianca, pizza diavola, and pizza caruso. Pizzas are traditionally made with an ultra thin crust and there is a generous serving of tomato sauce and pesto.

For our dinner, I ordered the pizza vegetariana, with an authentic “ultra-thin” crust, with grilled peppers, zucchini, goat cheese, pesto, and zesty tomato sauce. It was fresh and served very hot with a generous serving of sauce and pesto. Justine ordered the pizza margherita with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and tomatoes

The waiter appeared snooty because we did not choose to have sparkling or still water. We opted for “tap” water. I felt that we looked down upon. I certainly do not think it’s necessary to order overpriced water just because we’re in a fancy restaurant. Liquor license. Accepts all cards.

7 Numbers [Wendy]

Mark & I went to eat at Seven Numbers Danforth the other day, and discovered just how quickly this new location has become a local favourite. In fact, we showed up without a reservation, we just went on a whim, & had to wait about 30 minutes for a table as the place was really crowded, but it looked like a fun dining adventure, so we didn?t mind. Once seated, we studied the menu posted on the blackboards which changes daily. This is one of those Italian restaurants where everything is ordered separately, & is itemized by Antipasti, Primi, Secondi & Contorni. Family style dinners are available for 5 people or more (I suspect only with reservations). In fact, reservatioins are required for 6 people or more.

I started my meal off with a nice glass of Valpolicella ($9). I scoured the antipasti selection & considered many of the options such as pan fried calamari, prosciutto with figs salad, pan fried olives & focaccia, cheese plate ? the possibilities were plenty, & finally I decided upon the buffalo mozzarella with bresaola & truffle oil which was melt in your mouth fantastic ? I chose well, though I?m sure I?d have felt the same way about any of those other options.

There was again a decision to be made about my main course? I considered Rosa?s ossobuco, the grilled long & thick Italian sausage, the grilled tuna w/spicy tomatoes or the tilapia fillet, and decided upon the Veal Braciola (wrapped veal with spinach & romano cheese baked in tomato & white wine). I am not generally a veal person, but this was really good & had a bit of a spicy kick too ? nice to warm you up on a cold night. Now, as I stated before, things need to be ordered separately, so when you order the veal, that?s it ? no side dishes included at all (i.e. rice, potatoes vegetables, salad ? nothing) so, I ordered a green salad to accompany my veal. It was a simple mixed green salad with an herbed balsamic vinaigrette, & surprisingly substantial for $2.

I finished my meal off with a citrus tarte with semi sweet chocolate. I loved the flavour combination, but found the crust on the bottom a bit overcooked. My Americano was a nice accompaniment to the tarte.

All in all with taxes & tip my portion of the meal came to $46 which isn?t too bad when you consider all I had. If you aren?t paying attention, your bill can come as a bit of a surprise as all of the individual elements look so cheap on their own (i.e. $9 for the buffalo mozza, $9.5 on the veal, etc, but it does all add up.

The food was quite good, the service was friendly, the atmosphere was warm, despite the volume level. This is not a place to have a quiet conversation, as you will find yourself yelling just to be heard by your dinnermate across the table. The buzz is distinct. The one thing I found a bit off-putting was the fact that when I attempted to pay in cash, the waitress said they didn?t have change, that they did not have a cash register or float? WTF?!? All restaurants have floats, you have to have a variety of payment options available for your customers. At no point was the statement made to provide exact change only. I did not want to put it on a credit card & it didn?t look like the type of place to have interact. There was no way I was giving her a $14 tip on a $46 bill. I sent her back to look for more & of course she found some change.

Other than that oddity, the meal was pleasant. I would go back, and bring a credit card.

 

 

Cafe Diplomatico

 594 College Street,
416-534-4637

Located right in the heart of Little Italy at College , this place is a large coffee house, casual and unpretentious. Throughout the day tables fill with locals hanging out while having a coffee or traditional Italian dessert or meal. The walls are covered with kitschy art and in the summer, expect lineups as the outdoor terrace is quite popular

With traditional Italian pastry, ice cream, and ,meals, this place is a haven for University students and people who appreciate more affordable cuisine. I went with my parents (who appreciate fine cuisine at a decent price) for lunch on the weekend and they really enjoyed the fact that it was one of the only places in Little Italy that was affordable and unpretentious.

As it was quite chilly that fall afternoon, we opted to sit down in the large open-concept dining area by the window.

Serving traditional Italian dishes like pasta, thin crust pizza, Italian soups, Italian salads, traditional Italian desserts like canoli (which my mum ordered) , and appetizers (antipasto), the menu also includes Greek salads, as well as burgers, Mexican quesadilas, onion rings, and French fries.

My dad ordered the hamburger and French fries and he said it was great (he said it was juicy and delicious). My mum ordered the traditional Italian minestrone soup with noodles, beans, and vegetables in a tomato broth. I ordered the HUGE vegetarian antipasto dish (a HUGE platter of artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, spicy olives, three slices of a mild Italian cheese, and spicy eggplant, for $7.95). The dish was very filling and excellent. They have a medley of other vegetarian dishes like gnocchi, penne, rigatoni, pizza, and a variety of salads. Each pasta dish is served and you can choose from a variety of 20 different types of sauces.

Accepts all cards, open very late, can be very crowded on Thurs/Fri/Sat and even Sunday nights. Expect lineups on the weekend. Can be loud and noisy so students should not come to study there (even though the food is affordable). Excellent, attentive service, good prices, open 7 days per week 8:00am-2:00am.

Milestones

Unit A13-095 Yonge Street
(Empress Walk Mall at Yonge/Sheppard)
(416)-225-2552
For a complete list of locations

Milestones is a classy chain of restaurants, similar to Kelsey’s or East Side Marios, but slightly more upscale and less of “horse stables” ambiance. In other words, Milestones seems less noisy crowed with huge tables, spread far apart, with dim lighting, and an overall ambiance that is more calm and inviting. Located in most suburbs malls or in the middle of big box stores, I went to this particular Milestones at Yonge and Sheppard with Steve and Debbie in the fall.

The first floor was a bar/pub and the second floor was an intimate dining hall, with a cosy ambiance

Due to the limited vegetarian items on the menu, I ordered the Vegetarian Thai Noodle Salad- large and colourful with avocado, tomato, letture, cucumber, Thai rice noodles, mushrooms, artichokes, in a spicy Thai dressing ($9.99). Debbie had steak with garlic potatoes. Steve had grilled salmon with rice

All dishes came in large plates and super large portions. Decor is trendy with large spacious tables and booths. Rich in wood and comfort, yet provides an atmosphere of energy and fun. Very crowded with people but not congested

Friendly, welcoming, and knowledgeable staff. Decor is super modern and classy, in an elegant design
Milestones is a chain across Canada, all over Greater Toronto, Greater Vancouver, all of Ontario, B.C., and Alberta. Milestones claims to be the proud creator of Bellini, a frozen cocktail, a blend of Lamb’s white rum, peach liqueur and champagne, topped with sangria.
This restaurant also serves an extensive list of wines, house wines, beers, cockails, margarita’s, dacquiris, and other drinks

The men is very diverse, as it includes steak, chicken and ribs, soups and salads, stir fry’s (not vegetarian) , seafood, pasta, but unfortunately very few vegetarian options. The only vegetarian options I found were the veggie burger platter, tomato basil capellini (tomatoes, basil, sundried tomatoes, calamata olives, and feta), Miso Dragon Bowl (Asian vegetables, brown rice, and Thai peanut sauce), the California spring greens salad (spring greens, glazed pecans, red onions, goat cheese, and strawberries), the typical garden salad, a roasted garlic caesar salad, and the Vegetarian Thai Noodle Salad.

In addition, they also serve an extensive brunch and low carb menu. They also serve low calorie meals, as well as items with little or no trans-fats.Brunch is served 7 days a week until 4:00pm. Typical brunch items includes a variety of omeletes, egg benedicts, French toast, poached eggs, and mimosas. The lunch menu is very similar to the dinner menu but there are more sandwiches burgers and wraps (known as rollups)–mostly in chicken and beef varieties

Some vegetarian appetizers include hot tortilla chips with fresh salsa, baked goat cheese and roasted garlic dip on flat bread, and the toasted onion and herb focaccia triangles. Liquor license. Accepts Interac, and VISA. I was quite pleased that they had a low carb menu and there were some vegetarian appetizers but not enough vegetarian entrees.

Il Fornello (Beaches Jazz Festival)

Il Fornello- The Danforth
576 Danforth Ave.
Tel. (416) 466-2931
Major intersection: Danforth & Carlaw

Il Fornello- Yonge and St. Clair
1560 Yonge Street
Tel. (416) 920-7347
Major intersection: Yonge & St. Clair

Il Fornello- Bayviw Village
2901 Bayview Ave
Tel. (416) 227-1271
Major intersection: Bayview & Sheppard

Il Fornello- Theatre District
214 King St. West
Tel. (416) 977-2855
Major intersection: King & Simcoe

Il Fornello – Beaches
1968 Queen St. E
Tel. (416) 691-8377
Major Intersection: Queen & Woodbine

Il Fornello- Queen’s Quay Terminal
207 Queen’s Quay West
Tel. (416) 861-1028
Major intersection: Queen’s Quay & York

Il Fornello Bloor West Village
2277 Bloor St. W.
Tel. (416) 761-9222
Major intersection: Bloor & Runnymede

IL FORNELLO *newest location-opening July 2005*
491 Church St

Located right in the heart of the Beaches, this cool, hip and trendy eatery is surrounded by art, exposed brick, dim lightings, and a funky menu that incorporates traditional Italian fare with health conscious and trendified food. On my last visit to the chain in the Beaches, I had the large Insalata Roma … (mixed greens, chèvre, roasted peppers, walnuts, and balsamic vinaigrette). My friend Justine had the artichoke and pesto pizza, Daniel had the hearty Beef Manicotti which he thought Insalata Roma … (mixed greens, chèvre, roasted peppers, walnuts, and balsamic vinaigrette)was fine. He found that there was a heavy use of sage I think, which made the meat taste a little heavy/hars; maybe better use of oregano or other Italian spice would have been in order. My sister had the squid was a little on the rubbery side. Both Daniel and my sister thoroughly enjoyed the 1 litre of Sangria. There are some vegetarian pizza items, some made with spelt crust, and many offering soy cheese. The salads are funky (Tossed Salad , Caesar Salad … Grilled Chicken and Baby Spinach with mango and endive, Strawberry, Pear, Spinach Salad, Wild Mushroom and Arugula Salad, Crispy Prosciutto, Arugula and Spinach salad

Pastas include Linguini di Mare (tiger shrimp, scallops, mussels and calamari, light olive oil, tomato sauce), Penne Capri , with roasted chicken, wild mushrooms, spinach, in a lemon, garlic olive oil sauce, Spaghettini Primavera … (spaghetti with sauteed vegetables), Truffled Wild Mushroom Cannelloni (Cannelloni with Wild mushroom and ricotta), Tortelloni Fornello … (cheese tortelloni in a spicy tomato cream sauce), Manicotti (ricotta and spinach filled pasta baked in tomato sauce), and Daniel’s dish Cannelloni (meat filled pasta baked in tomato sauce), Spaghettini Misto … (Spaghettini with grilled chicken, tiger shrimp sautéed with caramelized onions, rapini, cherry tomatoes, in a lemon garlic olive oil),
Fettuccine Salmone … (Fettuccine with smoked salmon, and veggies in a dill vodka cream sauce ), the classic Penne Arrabbiate … (Penne in a spicy tomato sauce), and lastly Linguini Sorrentina … (Linguini with fresh basil, bocconcini cheese, and tomato sauce)

Pizzas ($9.00-$13.50) are served on multigrain crust, spelt crust (add $2), Quejos crust (add $3) and even carb-reduced crust (only available at Il Fornello at 1560 Yonge St. and Bayview Village)

Some pizzas include Prosciutto Pizza,Pizza Santo (w/soy cheese) ,Italian Sausage Pizza,
Pizza Affumicato (tomato sauce, carmelized onion, smoked chicken, spinach, and pine nuts),
Pizza Pollo (tomato sauce, roasted garlic, grilled chicken, roasted red peppers, and provolone),
Pesto Pizza (gaisli, grilled chicken, fire roasted eggplant, pesto), Pizza Gorgonzola (red wine caramel pears, gorgonzola, caramelized onions, walnuts, lemon dressed arugula), Fig Pizza ( prosciutto, honey figs, mascarpone, and shaved grano padano), Pizza Salmone (pizza with smoked salmon) , Pizza Tre Colori (very colourful pizza with Buffalo mozzarella, basil oil, prosciutto, oven cured roma tomatoes), Wild Mushroom Pizza ( 3 kinds of mushrooms with brie and basil oil), Pizza di bufala (Buffalo mozzarella, basil oil, oven cured roma tomatoes), Pancetta pizza … (regular cheese pizza with pancetta), Mediterranean Pizza … (Mediterranean vegetables, asiago cheese), Traditional Pizza (tomato sauce, cheese, pepperoni, mushrooms), Pizza Nove (basic vegetarian pizza), Escargot Pizza (Escargot, garlic, tomato sauce, mozzarella), Pizza di Bufala (Buffalo mozzarella, basil oil, oven cured roma tomatoes
Anchovy Pizza (Tomato sauce, mozzarella, anchovies, and black olives), Pizza Semplice (Tomato sauce, fresh herbs, and mozzarella), Tri Coloured Pepper Pizza … (green, red, yellow grilled peppers, tomato sauce, roasted garlic, and chèvre), and Hawaiian Pizza (prosciutto, pineapple, tomato sauce, and mozzarella)

You can build your own pizzas too. Choose your crust (multigrain crust $1.25, spelt crust $3.25, gluten-free quejos $5.00, carb reduced crust), then add your ingrediants to make your own unique and personal pizza. Select from various cheeses: buffalo mozarella ($5.00), brie, chevre, gorgonzola, gaisli, asiago, mascarpone, camboloza, ($4.00)

Choose your meat and gourmet vegetables: grilled chicken, pancetta, shrimp, grilled chicken, pancetta, shrimp, mozzarella, artichoke hearts, escargot, roasted red peppers, sun dried tomatoes, feta, provolone, pine nuts, bocconcini, smoked chicken, prosciutto, smoked salmon, spicy Italian sausage, pesto, fire roasted wild mushrooms, soy cheese ($3.00)

Other herbs and vegetables to choose include: fresh basil, caramelized onions, fresh rosemary, fresh dill, mixed fresh herbs, roasted garlic, ham, anchovies, snow peas, pepperoni, roasted eggplant, parmesan cheese, oven-cured roma tomatoes, red peppers, fire roasted field mushrooms ($2.00)

Other smaller vegetables and condiments include: hot peppers, pineapple, tomato sauce, broccoli, onions, green peppers, black olives, green olives, red onions, capers, spinach, freshly chopped garlic ($1.00)

Il Fornello also has a small “alternative menu”. Alternative items include spelt pizzas, pastas, and Gluten free pastas . You can design your own pizza or pasta dish. For gluten free items, add an additional $1.25 for Rice pasta instead for menu items marked with a +.

Some “alternative” menu items include the Pizza Santo (Tomato sauce, herbs, spinach, red onion, roasted red pepper, ‘non-dairy’ cheese ), Gluten-Free Pasta, $13.25 (wheat and gluten-free pasta with olive oil, garlic, fresh herbs, and veggies)
Quejos Pizza Crust $5.00 (gluten free Quejos pizza crust and design your own pizza)

Accepts every card. Expect lineups on the weekend and for brunch.

Innocenti [changed to KiWe Kitchen ]

03/2007-Changed to KiWe Kitchen

587 King Street West
416-203-0551

Wendy and I went for the Summerlicious festival to Innocenti, located right on King between Spadina and Bathurst, in the Fashion district.We had the prix fixe menu for dinner. Our dinner includes a salad, entree, and dessert, all for $20. This does not include taxes, tip, or drinks.
With a lovely ambiance, white sheer curtains divide large spacious dining hall into three sections. With Mediterranean design, light earth tones, yellows, with one wall of deep red
Walls were adorned with copies of Monet paintings surround restaurant and some are for sale. Restaurant is lined with tan coloured velour seating and exterior seats are wicker chairs.
Has a beautiful outdoor terrace with approximately 15 tables. With a calm, peaceful ambiance with colour scheme of earth tones.

Menu is one page full of traditional Italian dishes. Divided into antipasto (appetizers), sandwiches, entrees (salads/steaks), primos (pasta), secundi (meat/chicken), and desserts

Some appetizers and salads include the classic romaine salad ($8.95), caprese salad ($8.95), insalata mista ($7.95), seafood tapas (a medley of seafood with grilled calamari) ($17.95), antipasto ($13.95), sauteed shrimp with mixed greens ($13.95), grilled calamari ($7.95), bruschetta and crostini ( $5.95 and $9.95)
Some pasta dishes include various pastas (penne pomodoro ($11.95 ), fusilli with free range chicken and rapini ($17.95), linguini with scallops and shrimp($19.95), canelloni with spinach and five cheeses ($16.95). Some entrees include the chicken piccata($17.95), osso buco milanese (slow braised veal shank in a creamy Risotto) ($20.95), Grilled Atlantic Salmon with salad ($19.95)
The lunch menu is identical but for lunch, they serve a variety of sandwiches (grilled portobello, grilled chicken, tuna nicoise, and tony’s sausage- all from $9.95-$12.95. Menu claims to be flexible if customers have dietary concerns or personal preferences

For the Summerlicious menu, i ordered the Caprese Salad (vine ripened tomatoes with boconcini cheese, Vidalia onion and fresh basil, with mixed greens in balsamic vinaigrette).
Although small and only consisting of two slices of tomato, the salad was wonderful. My entree was whole wheat rotini pasta with caponata sauce (big chunks of eggplant, zucchini, capers and baby spinach in tomato sauce)

As I hardly eat pasta at all, once per year, and this was my annual treat. For dessert, i ordered the berry tarte with whipped cream and some fruit with this sour yucky raspberry sauce. I should have ordered Wendy’s dessert (the pecan chocolate tarte)

Wendy had the Romaine Salad (classic Caesar with Parmesan and housemade croutons).
For the entree she had the Grilled 8oz Rib Eye Steak, with chunky fries dressed in pepper and onion, served with horseradish

For dessert she enjoyed the Chocolate Pecan Tart with Cream & Fruit. She also ordered a sweet white wine ($6.50) and a capuccino ($3.00). Our server Julia was super nice, friendly, accomodating, and the ambiance, food, decor, and space between tables was not too congested.

Another good thing about Innocenti was that they will still offer their Summerlicious menu until July 24th, 2004. Summerlicious was from July 2- July 15. They accept all cards.

Soda

425 Danforth Avenue
ph: 416-466-5227

 

Located right on the Danforth, SODA is an acronym for South on Danforth Avenue

It is the fusion of Greek and Italian cuisine, offering traditional Greek and Italian fare

They have all traditional Greek dishes as well as Italian dishes like various pastas (Fettucini Alfredo, Penne Prima vera) as well as thin crusted pizza (Mediterranean pizza has feta, olives, tomatoes, etc) and more traditional pizzas like sausage, pepperoni, and seafood

We went on a warm summer evening on Friday. To our surprise every restaurant on the Danforth was packed except this one. We did not know why. The atmosphere is inviting, the service was excellent, and the food was superb.

Wendy ordered the risotto of the day ($14.95) , a risotto with chicken breast, mushrooms, in a creamy pesto sauce. She loved it. The portions were huge and she only finished about 70% of it. I ordered two appetizers, the spanakopita, which comprised four small spinach pies topped with sesame seeds, and a little platter of salad in the middle of my plate with dollop of tzatiki. I also ordered the Imam (grilled eggplant with roasted red and green peppers). It came with four slices of Italian-style pita. Both appetizers were $5.95 each.

Portions were huge and food was fresh and flavourful.

The whole place is very classy. The restaurant is composed of a large, open concept dining hall, very minimal in design. Staff are extra friendly, informative, and accomodating. The only strange thing that Friday evening was that Soda was the only place that was empty. Maybe it was because it was not a true Greek restaurant (it was fusion) and that people visiting the Danforth on a Friday night want an authentic Greek meal and Soda offers both Greek and Italian.

They also have a small brunch menu, mostly comprised of egg dishes but also has two fruit dishes (fruit and granola with yogourt) and fruit salad. They accept all cards.

Sorento Café and Bakery

900 Don Mills Rd.
416-447-3590

 

You can really determine your worth to a company depending on where they take you for lunch. Friends of mine regale me with stories of being taken to Jump and drinking all afternoon with management while others are lucky if their boss buys them a coffee once in blue moon. After eating at Sorento, I now know where I stand on the corporate ladder. And it’s not that high up.
Of course, I am somewhat kidding about this as location plays a certain factor in this decision. At Don Mills and Eglinton, the breadth of choice is rather limited so I won’t complain too loudly. Especially if said management stumbles upon this review!

Sorento sounds like an Italian restaurant but actually covers the entire Mediterranean coast with a focus on the Italian side. The décor matches this concept with chiseled stone walls adorned with paintings of various Doric, ionic, and Corinthian columns leading to majestic gardens and palatial establishments. The food is typical, serving a variety of pizzas and pastas and a “Light Lunch” menu that includes dishes of Greek salad, kebabs, chicken parmesan, and I even saw a curried chicken dish.

My choice was one of the pizzas that came topped with grilled eggplant, feta, and artichoke hearts. I don’t know why I chose this since I am not a huge artichoke fan and I ended up taking most of them off. Regardless, I was unfulfilled by the slight size of the meal and from what I saw on other dishes, the toppings did not seem to be appropriately cooked in with the pizza. Prices are reasonable at $8.95 for my small pizza.

It’s nice to be treated to a meal by your company once in awhile but I miss the variety of the downtown lunch circuit.

Il Gatto Nero

656 College St
Phone: 416-536-3132

 

On my quest to find vegetarian, low carb, low fat, low sugar, and high fibre food, I must admit that it was a difficult task when my friend Daniel and I set out to eat dinner in Little Italy last Friday night. I could only think of two dishes we would encounter : pasta or pizza. I was hoping that there would be some nice place that would serve something different. We started at College and Palmerston and browsed the menus outside of each and every restaurant along the Little Italy stretch (I am referring to the Little Italy along College Street between Bathurst and Ossington, not the Little Italy along St. Clair west.

When we approached Crawford, we gave up (we were hungry and desperate) and walked into Il Gatto Nero, a cool, funky cafe/bar/bistro with an awesome 20 table outdoor patio. Inside the decor was gorgeous, cathedral ceilings, deep burgendy walls with hints of beige and nice art on the walls. It looked like a modern Italian bistro or Trattoria as Daniel said, very chiche, cool, and funky. The decor looked like an old style Italian bistro with prints you only see in Bistros.

Dimly lit, the atmosphere was really nice. Some people were very dressy, while others dressed down. Althought it felt trendy, it did not feel pretentious

Laid in hardwood floors, wood tables and chairs, a spectacular, large bar with a beautiful array of beers, wines, and liquors can be seen from the entrance. The place was crowded with hoards of people at the bar, almost resembling a casino. The only cheesy thing were the two big television screens and one large movie screen at the middle of the restaurant adjacent to the bar.

Mostly comprising wooden tables, Il Gatto Nero also had some extra high tables with bar stools. The ambiance was not calm and relaxing, but loud and chaotic, with a small non-smoking section (it was a bar afterall)

We quickly ordered our meals. The menu did not give me many vegetarian options. I saw one pasta dish and one spinelli (will explain later) and one pizza dish. I decided to order the vegetariano spinelli, a thin wrap filled with yucky goat cheese, grilled zucchini, tomatoes, organic greens, and grilled peppers ($9). Daniel ordered a sausage spinelli with an assortment of roasted vegetables($12). I have to admit that I was disappointed with the menu. There were not
enough vegetarian selections (only 1 of 2 pasta dishes and 1 pizza and 1 spinelli) but staff claim that any item on the menu can be made vegetarian

Staff were extra friendly, patient, and attentive. It is always good news to hear that they accept Interac, and VISA

Five Doors North (see Five Multi-Coloured Doors at 2088 Yonge st.)

2088 Yonge st.
phone: (416) 480-6234

 

Conveniently located on Yonge, 3 blocks south of Eglinton on the west side. This place is really hidden, maybe on purpose, as it attracts an exclusive group of people. Signage sucks in this respect. As there is no sign for “Five Doors North” (Oct 2004- Look for Five Multi-coloured doors)we were told to look for a sign called “Future Furniture”.

There are three huge dining rooms, dim lighting, and paper menus with main courses that change daily. The first impression I got was that this place was definitely trendy, but relaxing and not pretentious.

Menu is broken down several sections: antipasti (appetizer), primi (pasta) , secondi (meat dish) , secondi vegetarian dishes, pesce (fish), and contorni (salads). We were told the convention was to choose one dish from each section. Each dish was considered a course and a whole meal consisted of selecting a combination of dishes from each section.

Before anything was served we got a large plate of fresh foccacia (with rosemary). I was told by Daniel to dip my bread into the olive oil and balsamic vinegar [there were bottles of Olive Oil and Balsamic at each table].

For the antipasti, I ordered the polenta with goat cheese, sundried tomato, and pesto ($5.95).
For the main vegetarian dish, I ordered two thick slices of Sicilian eggplant with roasted red pepper and basil for $7.95 (they charged me $11.95 by accident). In addition, I ordered a small green salad for $2.95 (consisted of organic greens). To wash it all down I ordered a diet coke for my beverage.

My dinner mates (Daniel and Rob) ordered a Merlot (red wine) while Aaron ordered two Cosmo Martinis (cranberry?). Rob ordered the roasted beet salad with a red wine vinegar, crispy leeks, and scallions aioli. For the “primi” dish, Rob and Aaron shared a Risotto with sausage and gorgonzolla. For their main dish, Aaron and Rob each ordered grilled lamb chops with carmelized onions and mint horseradish mayonnaise. Aaron liked it as he ordered medium-rare but Rob’s was too tough (he ordered well done, I suspect). Daniel ordered the spicy seafood stew with calamari, mussels, shrimp, and stripe bass. Daniel also ordered a salad of brussel sprouts and double smoked bacon.

All portions were small and the waitress said they were similar to “tapas.” Food was amazing, flavourful, fresh, tasty, and they are very accomodating and aware of vegetarians’ needs. Although very few vegetarian main courses, the waitress informed me that most dishes can be made vegetarian.

Some dishes worth noting were: a spicy chick pea stew with smoked paprika and garlic crostini, pan fried salmon with mango salsa, beef carpaccio with pecorino cheese and roasted onions, seared scallops with asian coleslaw and shitake mushrooms, and prosciutto rolls with arugula, goat cheese, and figs. Some pasta dishes worth noting are linguini with mussels, calamari, and cilantro pesto, tortellini with tomato sauce with fresh orengano.

Decor is funky with hanging lamps (with funky lampshades), multicoloured rooms of red and orange and blue, retro 1970’s chandaliers, and funky Magazine covers for tablecoverings.
Staff were very friendly. Owner offered us a free shot of this digestif which tasted like Yaegermeister. The bill for drinks, appetizers, and main dishes for four people came to $140.00.
They accept VISA, cash, and Interac