A new Italian place in Little Italy? Ma no! It feels almost quaint — but then again, old-school charm saturates this small-plates-oriented restaurant, the first solo outing from Buca alumni Ryan Campbell and Giuseppe Marchesini, like espresso saturates a tiramisu. Starting with the dungeon-like front door, Il Covo is all old-world romance, and the menu sticks close enough to tradition to satisfy purists while making calculated overtures toward modernity. The most woodenspoon-happy nonna in the land couldn’t find fault with Campbell’s incredible seafood linguini, which piles the freshest of clams, calamari, mussels and scallops onto pasta sourced from Abruzzo. And while it’s not Italian tradition to stuff a tramezzino sandwich with scallop and shrimp, add a mossy coat of chopped chives, glob some smoked-lemon aioli on there for dipping and maybe slap an extra spoonful of caviar on top for kicks — it probably damn well should be. 585 College, at Clinton, 416-530-7585, ilcovo.ca
Oysters with lemonsaffron pearls and chopped fennel at Il Covo.