Given how north of Downtown Toronto it is situated, Paese Ristorante is one of those places I’ve always been interested in checking out, but never really made the trek out to. When I finally got the chance to visit, I was both excited and apprehensive. Excited because potential yumminess may have been waiting for us, and apprehensive because I really didn’t want to be the guy that just paid for a $40 Uber ride only to find out that the food was blech (that’s a technical term).
Nestled into a quiet spot in the Bathurst and Wilson area, Paese Ristorante (pronounced ‘pie-eh-zeh’) is the kind place that could quite easily be a neighborhood favourite – but, is it?
Friday night. Dinner for two.
What immediately struck me about Paese was the wonderful service and welcome we received once our server greeted. In fact, our server was my favourite thing about my experience there – she was friendly, boisterous (but not overly so), and actually very helpful when it came to suggestions. By the end of the meal, she was joking with our table about dessert options – anything on the menu, “…or something a little more desirable” she said, posing with dramatic exaggeration. It was hilarious!
(Cue long haul joke.)
First thing we noticed when looking at the menu was the 21 Ingredient Calabrese Slaw. It was a fun start.
The focaccia to start off our meal however wasn’t all that great. Don’t get me wrong. It was passable. Just not flavourful. Or warm.
Our appetisers were much more enjoyable with the very yummy Grilled Calamari ($16) easily overshadowing the Bronzino Crudo ($17), which was a bit more on the sour side than I would have preferred.
For the mains, the Beef Short Rib Ravioli ($24) and, special menu item, Beef Short Rib Risotto were both good. We ordered a side of the Roasted Cauliflower Parmigiano ($6.50), which was also tasty.
My favourite course of the evening was without a doubt, the dessert. Italian Carrot Cake with Blood Orange Mascarpone Frosting, and Candied Hazelnuts ($11). Well-presented, and really quite delicious!
Though I’ve read many reviews noting the restaurant as a quiet and intimate date spot, my experience there presented Paese Ristorante as more of a big family dinner venue. The mood was energetic, and the atmosphere was casual, boisterous, and friendly.
Would I return? Absolutely…provided I’m nearer to the area. Next time, I’d like to try some of Paese’s delicious looking pizzas.
3.5 Streetcars (Named Desire) Out of 5
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Disclosure: This meal was complimentary. The opinions and views expressed on this post are my own.