DINE and Destinations - - SARA SAYS -

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!

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