Though Spigolo Ristorante specializes in housemade entrees—an authentic approach known as casareccia—its daily specials suggest that "home" might be a thriving woodland. The chef prepares wild game such as boar, bison, and pheasant to supplement the menu’s meat and pasta mainstays. Tender bites of braised rabbit or fresh cod might balance out helpings of housemade gnocchi, which mingles with mushrooms in a cream sauce. Other dishes exhibit a calculated mix of sweet and savoury flavours—seared italian sausage arrives dressed in a wine-and-olive-oil drizzle, and an appetizer of prosciutto derives a honeyed touch from poached pears. Every meal begins with a focaccia pizza for the table to share or use for discus practice amid the burnt-orange walls and rustic stonework of the dining room.
By combining the rustic simplicity of Italian cooking with the unmistakable flavours of Canadian ingredients, PAESE serves as a bridge between the Old and New World. The restaurant currently boasts two locations in the Toronto area, and they both honour Canadian heritage and Italian tradition by cooking with ingredients harvested from an urban garden. Created by owner Tony Loschiavo and executive chef Christopher Palik, this quarter-acre plot produces everything from tomatoes and chili peppers for the chefs to mint and lavender for the bartenders and any visiting potpourri artists.
These ingredients lend a distinctive twist to traditional Italian recipes without straying too far from those roots. In addition to meatballs made from house-ground beef short rib, sirloin, and brisket, the menu features pizzas with inventive topping combinations?buffalo mozzarella, sprouts, and squash for example?and a variety of pasta dishes, such as orecchiette with wild boar sausage and foraged mushrooms. Both restaurants stock cellars with hundreds of wines from across the world, earning a Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence for the King Street location as well as the Bathurst Street location.
Although Amaro Pizza's menu boasts an extensive array of traditional finger foods, a selection of familiar and gourmet-inspired pizzas continues to dominate its pages. The cooks can toss together one of their classica pies, such as the margherita classica or the potato alla cream with rosemary and parmesan, or diners can design their own using the 64 available toppings—including smoked salmon, prosciutto, and grilled eggplant—and 19 different polyhedrons of house-made dough. To accompany meals, the kitchen also fries up spicy and savoury orders of wings and layers garlic focaccia bread with extra-virgin olive oil and fresh herbs.
Skilled spinners wait until daily-made dough ages to the ideal consistency before they fling and stretch it for an onslaught of fresh ingredients devoid of artificial colours or flavours. A menu surpassing 30 chef-inspired creations decodes masterpieces such as the New York Deli, a meatberg of toppling pepperoni, genoa salami, bacon, Canadian ham, and spicy italian sausage ($17.50 for 14"). The pesto shrimp lays Ocean Wise–certified wild pink shrimp, roasted garlic, fire-roasted tomatoes, and black olives onto a layer of pesto sauce ($18.50 for 14"), and the Veggie + Goat Cheese tells of a clandestine meeting of passata tomato sauce, italian mixed grilled vegetables, and a goat-cheese blend ($16.50 for 14"). Every pizza comes with a free dip or shaker, turning crusts into more than cell-phone antennae after they're dunked into jalapeño ranch, cheezy cheddar, or chipotle cilantro (order more $0.50 each).
For more than 48 years, Rosa's Place Ristorante and Banquets has hosted small family dinners and large events alike in a soothing dining room setting. Diners sit down to tables adorned with cream-coloured tablecloths and napkins or visit an adjoining bar, where, on the weekends, the melodies of a grand piano lull guests into a relaxed state. While listening to notes resounding off the ceiling, diners dig into a menu of classic Italian eats ranging from hearty bruschetta to baked lasagna to grilled Atlantic salmon. Mounds of authentic pasta sate culinary cravings, along with an array of pizza, meats, and daily specials.