The Annabelle of the ball

A trio of pas­tas made fresh daily is the name of the game at this Daven­port new­bie

Midtown Post - - Food - by Karolyne El­la­cott 909 Daven­port Rd., no phone

TIRED AND TRUE

If there’s one truth about con­sis­tency it’s that, af­ter a while, it gets a tad dull. So ev­ery sea­son at Lil’ Baci, Les­lieville’s noted Ital­ian restau­rant, co-owner Mark Bacci and ex­ec­u­tive chef Bran­dyn Koester were ea­ger to switch things up, menu-wise.

But what would be­gin as a com­plete do over would only re­sult in some mi­nor tweak­age. Af­ter all, the spaghetti po­modoro with meat­balls is a main­stay, the veg­e­tar­i­ans love the pap­pardelle with mush­rooms and the reg­u­lars come for the ri­cotta ca­vatelli.

The so­lu­tion? Open a new restau­rant: Annabelle.

JEWEL IN THE ROUGH

Lo­cated steps from Hill­crest Park at Daven­port and Christie, Annabelle is a wel­come ad­di­tion to an area that is pretty lack­ing when it comes to eater­ies.

“We fell in love with the build­ing first,” says Bacci of the cor­ner space next door to Annabelle, which houses their sis­ter spot, BOB Cof­fee Bar. Af­ter re­al­iz­ing that the nabe was rem­i­nis­cent of a 2004 Les­lieville, Bacci, along with co-own­ers Suresh Singh and Riyaz So­mani, de­cided to take a shot on the ’hood. When the prop­erty next door be­came available, they snapped it up too.

Now, Annabelle spans over two storeys, with most of the din­ing room tucked up on the sec­ond floor. (In its past life the sec­ond floor was none other than a karaoke prac­tice space.) Seat­ing 45 pa­trons, the cosy en­vi­rons are the per­fect back­drop to a ro­tat­ing ros­ter of Ital­ian carbs.

ITAL­IAN LOVE AF­FAIR

“There’s noth­ing bet­ter than fresh pasta!” says Bacci. Af­ter din­ing at a joint in Seat­tle that turned out a trio of daily pas­tas for $9, Bacci got to think­ing.

“Ital­ian food is in the DNA of Toronto,” he says. While T.O.’s Ital­ian food scene seemed to be veer­ing in a pricier di­rec­tion, Bacci and Koester went the op­po­site way, do­ing three fresh pas­tas ev­ery day at $10 a pop.

“We make great pasta,” says Bacci, “and we have so many that do­ing three fresh daily gave us the op­por­tu­nity to ex­plore all re­gions of Italy and all kinds of prod­uct.”

De­spite there be­ing end­less va­ri­eties of pasta at their beck and call, com­ing up with three of­fer­ings a day is no small feat for Koester. “I also do the spe­cials for Lil’ Baci, so I’m mak­ing 50 to 60 dishes a week,” Koester says, with­out airs. “It’s fun!”

Pasta spe­cials might be any­thing from orec­chi­ette with ‘nduja and baby oc­to­pus to cac­cia­tore pap­pardelle. A dish might be based around fresh riga­toni. One ver­sions sees the al dente tubes tossed in le­mon and but­ter, with basil and a smat­ter­ing of wal­nuts for crunch. The dish is sim­ple and bright, with some earth­i­ness from the nuts.

What’s not to love about pasta? Bacci praises the beloved carb: “It’s com­fort­ing, tasty, oddly healthy, if you think about it, and makes you feel happy!”

If pasta’s the ticket to mid-winter hap­pi­ness, we’re all about it.

One of the pas­tas on ro­ta­tion, with le­mon and but­ter

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