The won­drous 100-layer lasagna from Toronto’s hottest new eatery, La Palma

Chef Craig Hard­ing’s new eatery mar­ries artsy en­vi­rons with mod­ern Ital­ian fare

Bayview Post - - Contents - by Karolyne El­la­cott


When Caffe Brasil­iano’s restau­ra­teurs let Craig Hard­ing know they were hang­ing up their chef hats, he had no plans to open a sec­ond eatery. Thanks to Cam­pag­nolo, the suc­cess­ful Ital­ian trat­to­ria Hard­ing runs with his wife Alexan­dra Hutchi­son, he was quite con­tent with life on the Dun­das West strip. But with the sug­ges­tion of the “per­fect space” across the street up for grabs, the wheels got a-churn­ing. En­ter: La Palma.


Inside, La Palma is all off-whites punc­tu­ated with hits of taupe, tan, washed-out turquoise and the pink of the sea­son (ahem, Mil­len­nial). Garage win­dows open up the space to the street.

“We were in­spired by this trip we just took to Venice Beach,” Hard­ing says. “Alex thought of this real syn­ergy to the arts scene in Venice and the fresh fun fo­cus of the restau­rants there.”

What en­sued is a stylish all-day spot that gives nod to the creative spirit that sur­rounds Trin­ity Bell­woods and its artsy affin­ity with the famed Cali ’hood.

“I just walk around Cam­pag­nolo eat­ing bread and meat and cheese and all day,” says Hard­ing, “and I just wanted to bal­ance it out.”

Us­ing Cal­i­for­nia’s loose in­ter­pre­ta­tion of Ital­ian food as a jump­ing-off point, chef cre­ated a fresh and light menu with veg, veg and more veg. That be­ing said, he couldn’t help but add a mean lasagna to the menu.


“I grew up with an Ital­ian grand­mother who in­spired a lot of my food,” says Hard­ing. “I love sit­ting around the table cel­e­brat­ing and just en­joy­ing a meal.” One of Hard­ing’s nonna’s sig­na­ture dishes is, but of course, a lasagna.

Orig­i­nally hail­ing from the north of the boot, Hard­ing’s grandma ended up con­nect­ing with Ital­ians from the south af­ter re­lo­cat­ing to Canada.

“They made lasagna a lot in the style of south­ern Italy,” Hard­ing says, not­ing that the south uses a red sauce while the north uses white sauce. With his nonna’s clas­sic dish as a foun­da­tion, chef trans­formed it into a deep­dish, in­dul­gent 100-layer lasagna. “What I’ve done is tried to com­bine the best of both worlds,” he says.

Cam­pag­nolo’s recipe for spaghetti does dou­ble duty as La Palma’s sheets of pasta, boast­ing egg yolk and dop­pio zero flour for an in­cred­i­bly rich dough. The sheets are rolled out and blanched, be­fore around 30 are lay­ered with both béchamel (white) and bolog­nese (red) sauces, the lat­ter a combo of On­tario beef, pork and veal.

The lay­er­ing process takes about an hour, then it’s 45 min­utes in the oven be­fore the al­most-lasagna is pressed in the fridge overnight. Fi­nally, each piece is fried to or­der on its side in clar­i­fied but­ter and olive oil, crisp­ing up the lay­ers and giv­ing ev­ery­one that cor­ner piece with that toasty, cheesy edge.

“My wife calls it the 100-hour lasagna,” Hard­ing says, “’cause it takes so long to make!” La Palma, 849 Dun­das St. W., 416-368-4567

This dish is also known as the 100-hour lasagna

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