Seated on the patio with a glass of wine, Tappo owner Armando Russo tells me he sometimes forgets which city he’s in. We could very well be in a piazza in his native Calabria. Inside the stone walls, we feel like we’re dining in the wine cellar of a Spanish castle. “If a guy brings a first date here, she’s pretty impressed,” says Russo. Tappo means “cork” in Italian. Wine pairing is an essential part of the experience here.
We begin with a seafood salad of marinated and grilled octopus, calamari and shrimp, and can taste every note of garlic, lemon and toasted almonds. Crisp-seared pork belly on a crostini with red wine reduction; tender pan-seared veal with mushroom-cream sauce; beef striploin with red wine and a horseradish aioli are all tantalizing displays of the chef’s deftness in the kitchen, and each pair amorously with their wines. High doors open in summer to let in the breeze for the early and late crowds that come here on a night out at the Soulpepper theatre. Cheesecake is rich and voluptuous, and the espresso proves that every last detail is tended.