Enoteca Sociale is a fantastic Romanesque paradise found in the new, up and coming Parkdale district of Toronto. It seems more and more “Enoteca” style restaurants are opening in town. When I told friends I was going to Enoteca, they asked which one? So my mind started to wander about its meaning. Simply put, Enotecas are wine bars that offer a social cantina-style feel and specialize in selected menus paired with local and regional wines; and in the case of this Enoteca, Roman inspired dishes that are paired with Ontario and Italian wines, as recommended by their sommelier.
But wine is not so much what drove my taste buds to write a post on Enoteca. It was its fantastic atmosphere, service and delightful Italian dishes.
So first things first, the service. I haven’t felt such calm, relaxation and assurance on the promise of a meal experience as I felt at Enoteca Sociale, especially on a busy Friday night service. We honestly thought it was just luck with our waiter, but as we looked around, the entire room and staff felt just as pleased as we were. So bravo to Enoteca for their spot on service.
Now on to the food. To start off, Enoteca makes some of their bread in house. Upon being seated, we were offered water and bread while we waited for the rest of our party. That night, a lovely rosemary focaccia was flourescing on the basket. The focaccia had a light hard shell with a very foamy-soft centre, the taste of the rosemary came through as I bit on it and became more present as I sipped my wine.
Our appetizer course arrives, and its a very well executed Sea Bream crudo.
Crudo means “raw” in Italian. Is a raw fish dish dressed with olive oil, sea salt, and lemon juice, sometimes also served with vinegar. Knowing how tough it is to make fish taste good when raw, I praised the chefs at Enoteca for making a hit out of this dish. Instead of just sticking to the traditional way of serving it, they created a dish that was perfectly seasoned with olive oil, basil, and fennel pollen, which in my mind was the “pièce de résistance”. Fennel pollen is a new spice to North American cuisine. Discovered and mostly used in Italy, this unique spice has made its way to many kitchens and is quickly becoming a staple in imported Italian cuisine. The process of extracting the fennel powder and seeds, from the plant, by hand, makes this spice hard to get and quite expensive. But its potent and unique flavour will turn any dish from good, to great.
With the thought of leaving room for the pasta dishes coming our way, I left some bread on the side to enjoy alla “dip” style. That’s how one carries through a pasta dish till the end, once the plate is wiped clean.
So, ever heard of Toasted Spaghetti?
I hadn’t heard of it till I visited Enoteca Sociale. The toastiness comes from the way the pasta is made. Served with clams, the spaghetti is first toasted in olive oil, then slowly cooked with the clam juice, risotto style, until the pasta is al dente. This process gives a nutty flavour to the noodles and darkens it in colour. Though this was a good start to my pasta experience, I have to admit, it was not my personal preference. Don’t get me wrong, the dish was great, and some people in my party also thought so too, just was not for me.
Next up, and one that elevated Enoteca’s status as a pasta expert, was the Mezzaluna.
Mezzaluna is a type of pasta cut into a half-moon shape. Which is literally its translation in English. The Mezzaluna was filled with wild leek and bathed in a light a tasty creamy sauce. The pasta was fresh, al dente and light. Topped with breadcrumbs, the whole dish had the perfect balance between texture and flavour.
And as it is tradition with me, desserts are always on the menu and there is always room for dessert. A chocolate mousse cake concoction, felt like heaven and a sweet way to end the meal.
Enoteca Sociale changes their dessert menu often, so I can’t really recall the exact name of the dessert, but it read along the lines of a Chocolate Mousse Cake. It was decadent, nutty, spongy, creamy and crunchy all in one bite. Let’s just say I had way too many bites, until once again, the plate was wiped clean. Can’t wait to go back for more.
Until next time Foodies!
Dining Experience: Dinner
Venue: Enoteca Sociale
Specialty: Italian / Roman Cuisine
Location: 1288 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON
Menu items: Sea Bream Crudo, Toasted Spaghetti, Mezzaluna & Chocolate Mousse Cake