Pastizza (Closed)

Welcome to Pastizza!

The beautifully built and decorated building where Pastizza sits, just across the famous Toronto St. Lawrence Market, is a new market street favourite for Foodies Inked. Having opened its doors to Torontonians just 6 months ago, the modern-Italian post by co-owners Paolo Paolini (formerly of Splendido) and Thomas Baker (owner of the Sonoma-area winery Thomas George Estate) is serving up traditional Italian fare with a twist.

Pastizza is eclectic with a mellow ambiance and a terrific wine and cocktails selection. Having one of the owners highly experienced in the vino business is certainly no coincidence at this charming spot. The Pastizza wine label is a crowd favourite; the merlots, pinot noirs and chardonnays sit strategically on the big 30 foot tall custom wine chandelier, hanging at the entrance of the restaurant. This is Pastizza’s center-piece where all eyes meet. The owners provide a selection of wine that pairs very well with their menu while keeping our pennies in the wallet and our taste buds enveloped in the sweetness, tanginess and flavour of the grapes in season.

One simply does not go to Pastizza without at least trying one of their salads. General Manager Dimitri Petropoulos, takes big pride on what the chef has accomplished with the menu and alludes to the fact that no other restaurant treats salads as seriously as they do. And rightly so, the Cavolo Nero salad with baby kale, carrots, red peppers, dried fruit, spicy pepper and caramel dressing is a true testament of this statement. Flavours and ingredients infuse together to lessen the bitterness of the kale while allowing the dried fruit, peppers and caramel to shine through.

On the other hand, the Caesare salad, representing the Copernicus theory, is plated in a beautiful way. Following the theory that the sun is the center of the universe, Pastizza places a crunchy and salty piece of fried Parmesan cheese on top of the earthy and creamy lettuce leafs, and tops it with a big ray of fire, represented by a bacon strip. I hope the chef thought of it that way when creating this salad, otherwise it just means I’ve had a bit too much wine while writing this post.

And what will be of Pastizza without the “izza”? Or vice versa? Not much really, and this is why pastas and pizzas are a must order when visiting the market street spot. People say one can tell how good an Italian restaurant is by their carbonara pasta. It’s a bold statement, but a true one nonetheless. The Carbonara Pasta at Pastizza is clearly one that celebrates this thinking and the chef’s skills in the kitchen. The spaghetti dish is made with cracked black pepper, pancetta, onion, white wine, egg and parmesan cheese. The secret, according to Pastizza staff, is to not allow the egg yolk to cook in the pasta, it’s a rookie mistake, but one that is made often. So these are added raw at the end and mixed in while the pasta is cooling off, preserving its flavour and consistency. Yes, the eggs are not fully cooked, but let me remind you hollandaise sauce is made similarly, so manga and enjoy!

When it came to pizzas, Pastizza knew exactly what it needed to do to stand out from other pizza joints. The knew they needed to do something different and tasty. And so they journeyed into mastering the art of the pizza crust by using baking dishes with holes that allow for the hot air to risen up the crust faster, making it crunchy and fluffy without over-cooking the dough. Brilliant. One other thing they did right was change up the tomato sauce in some of their menu items. Instead of using a traditional tomato sauce, they used chili paste as the base. The Prosciutto Cotto pizza had this base and it was my favourite menu item of the night. The pizza came with mixed mushrooms, prosciutto cotto, oven dried tomato, basil and Gorgonzola cheese, and of course, the chili paste. To add it it, Dimitri brought to our table 3 kinds of hot oils, from mild to hot. Reminding us Pastizza makes their own hot oils, which just happen to be the perfect addition to any pasta or pizza dish.

To end the meal with a bang and put a sweet end to it, we decided to indulge in some delicious cappuccinos brought to us with an espresso-infused sugar and ordered the Caramella dessert. A decadent caramel-amaretto sticky toffee pudding with almond slivers and vanilla gelato. The pudding came warm and not too sweet while the gelato, which is also home-made, perfectly balanced the amaretto-infused cake.

What a great meal and fantastic experience. A big thank you to Dimitri and the staff at Pastizza for making our night such a delight.

Until next time Foodies!

Buen Provecho,
Foodies Inked.

Dining Experience: Dinner
Venue: Pastizza
Specialty: Italian
Location: 118 The Esplanade, Toronto, Ontario
Menu Items: Pastizza Cocktails and Wine, Cesare Salad, Cavolo Nero Salad, Prosciutto Cotto pizza, Carbonara Pasta, Guanciale di Manzo and Caramella & Cioccolata desserts

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