OVEST CUCINA e VINERIA
This is not your usual Toronto Italian restaurant. It’s as if the menu was plucked right out of the heart of Sicily. Owner Marco Celio and his executive chef have created an Italian enclave that is refreshingly unique. Where else would we find homemade black squid ink gnocchi with a generosity of fresh lobster, or linguine with braised octopus ragout? You won’t find pan-seared Skate served with purple potatoes on many menus hereabouts. Choosing between the two Carpaccio items would be an exercise in futility, so we share both. A canvas of octopus Carpaccio is splashed with pesto, and crowned by rich morsels of sea urchin. A rarity in Italian restaurants, this is a sharing-sized portion that is as delectable as it is artful. In-house smoked swordfish drapes over fresh crisp fennel. A citric essence of oranges and decorative sprinkling of pomegranate seeds complement its buttery texture. The in-house wine sommelier calls his wine cellar “the cave of wonders.” Showcasing Italian wines from north, central and south, the wine list sparks discussion of each selection. As the buzz of the evening crowd rolls in, the spacing of the tables and the cutting edge design of the room maintain an ambience conducive to conversation. Waiters whisk by with racks of wild boar and rabbit stuffed with porcini and speck. The pizza oven churns out thin crusts, while a salumeria offers a selection of charcuterie and cheese to pair with wine. While Italy is not renowned for its desserts, here they’ve changed the rules. Apple tart Italian style comes topped with a bouquet of crisp florets filled with frangipani almond cream and caramel, and accompanied by gelato composed of wild blueberries. That’s Amore!