PORZIA

Richmond Hill Post - - Restaurant Review -

1314 Queen St. W. $80 Din­ner for two Peo­ple are al­ways ask­ing me for the hot new restau­rant. The, as if there’s one and they have to go to it in or­der to be cool, trendy, hip. It’s true, they do. There’s no point go­ing to Zucca or Cava if you wannabe cool. If, on the other hand, you’re look­ing for gra­cious ser­vice and fab­u­lous food, do it.

But if you’re nor­mal, that’s not what you want. It’s just like me not want­ing to look my age. Hair dye, Lu­l­ule­mon pants two sizes too small, laser this and Botox that — we’re all pad­dling down that great Egyptian River, de­nial, when it comes to who we re­ally are. And it’s af­fect­ing where we eat. The illusion goes some­thing like this: If I wear a lot of tight black clothes and dine at the hippest spot in down­town west, I can pre­tend not to be mid­dle-aged from up­town. Hence Porzia. This place was tai­lor-made for aid­ing and abetting il­lu­sions.

It’s uber cool, it’s so trendy you’ll feel like a hip­ster just for walk­ing in the door. It’s the dar­ling of Park­dale, the Ital­ian com­fort food des­ti­na­tion with a big dose of artis­tic chef syn­drome. Which can be a good or bad thing.

It’s very good on the starters. Porzia’s tuna carpac­cio is ter­rific but­tery tuna dot­ted with yummy bone mar­row–in­fused aïoli, crispy crunchy fried ca­pers and egg yolk dots. Beet and car­rot salad is also en­ter­tain­ing: Won­der­ful roasted beets and car­rots with bou­tique moz­zarella and agresto sauce (made from nuts and basil — like pesto but richer).

But then things go badly down­hill. The chicken liver ag­nolotti, which are the dar­lings of Porzia fans (go fig­ure), are tooplain chicken liver purée (yuck!) in un­ex­cit­ing lit­tle pasta rolls. The honey mush­rooms are nice but their aged bal­samic sauce is ho­hum. The oc­to­pus is a tad mealy, and we are un­moved by its peanut and ap­ple sauce. Bone mar­row with snails and gre­mo­lata is much bet­ter, a clever combo of the smooth (bone mar­row), the earthy (snails) and the pi­quant (gre­mo­lata).

Dessert, how­ever, ex­em­pli­fies the prob­lem of the hip­ster resto: Does the world re­ally need egg­plant mousse? Come on. Whipped egg­plant with sugar and whipped cream? If the zep­pole (dough­nuts) with the mousse weren’t dry or the choco­late budino weren’t runny, we’d per­haps for­give the mousse. This is a case of a kitchen gone wild on ide­ol­ogy with­out mind­ing the taste of things. JOANNE KATES

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