While finalizing the delicious details of our Culinary Adventure next October to Tuscany, we got invited to get a taste of Italy in our own backyard at Paese Ristorante in Toronto. Read on to see what we ate.
Paese (which literally translates to ‘country’) is a Toronto institution, serving classic Italian fare to the downtown community for over 25 years. The place itself is elegant yet laid-back, with an easy-going staff that made us feel welcome and relaxed. With menu items including ingredients from locally grown produce to house-ground meats, it’s clear the team takes pride in ensuring the quality of everything that comes out of their kitchen.
Our server explained that when he was first hired, he was tasked with learning to prepare one dish in an effort to intimately familiarize himself with the Paese menu. Since he so intricately described how he learned to make the highly-regarded stuffed green olives with veal, pecornio and tomato aioli, we had to have it.
We were intrigued by the idea of Italian pizza made with gluten free dough. Could it really be as great as the gourmet pizza we’ll be making in Tuscany? To our surprise, it was outstanding. We had the Laabroni, with generous amounts of tasty sausage, spinach, sweet caramelized onions and fresh goat cheese.
downside to this dish was that it was too small for sharing! Perhaps for the best, as we needed room for our mains.
The evening’s special was a whole grilled branzino stuffed with rosemary and lemon. Our friendly server de-boned the fish table-side as we chatted about food-tripping we enjoy doing in our hometown. Toronto certainly has some incredible Italian restaurants, but what we know as travelling foodies is that authentic Italian cooking is a purist’s endeavour, and oftentimes international interpretations of Italian dishes can be overly contrived. But that certainly wasn’t the case with this fish! The simple bone-in style left the cooked meat soft and salty, with a nice crispness on the skin. With a hint of herb seasoning from the rosemary and lemon, the natural flavours were enough to make this fish sing.
We couldn’t pass up dessert, which is perhaps an affliction that comes with the territory when you’re also planning a Sweet Trip to Paris in the autumn of 2017 as well. The dolce selection was great, including classics like affogato and amoretti, but we went with the more intriguing sounding butterscotch pudding. The beautiful display in a mini mason jar was layered with cloud-like butterscotch mousse, thick caramel, delicate whipped cream and topped with a burnt rosemary pine nut brittle that was just heavenly!
After this incredible meal, we couldn’t be more ready to get going to Tuscany next October 3rd – 7th, 2017. The warm, inviting atmosphere at Paese speaks to its genuine embrace of Italian hospitality, and we loved our experience there!
Paese is located at 3827 Bathurst Street in Toronto. For more details on eating with us in Italy, check out the details of our Tuscan Culinary Adventure.