While I rarely have the opportunity to enjoy Toronto’s “fine dining” scene, my recent graduation gave me an excuse to stop into Enoteca Sociale, over on that oh-so-trendy stretch of Dundas West between Dovercourt and Landsdowne.
Now for those of you who aren’t familiar with the rules of “hipster geography” lemme break it down for you. A previously “sketchy” area urban neighborhood gets a halfway decent cafe, which mysteriously sends a beacon out to the starving artist crowd who subsequently move there & set up shop in previously low-rent, low-income housing. Rent goes up because of renewed interest, which then brings on some non-starving graphic designer/ad exec type “artists” who require a pretentious independent gallery or two in order to survive. And everyone needs something to wear so a vintage clothing store becomes mandatory…and suddenly…the area is subject to the G word – gentrification.
Enter: Enoteca Sociale.
The product of years of gradual gentrification in Toronto’s West End. But don’t hold that against it.
The meals are served in an authentic Roman fashion with small plates emphasizing fresh vegetables, seafood & pasta dishes. There are also a wide variety of vegetarian options, including a delicious main dish that included lightly fried chickpea fritters served over earthy mushrooms and farro (shown above).
While I thoroughly enjoyed my vegetarian/pescatarian fare, I couldn’t help but snatch a bite of my dad’s gnocchi. A special of the day, this melt-in-your-mouth pasta dish was tossed in a light espresso based sauce. Umm…I KNOW. And according to pops the beef in this dish was also cooked to perfection.
While not to everyone’s taste, this squid & fava bean appetizer took me right back to my lazy days living in Northern Spain. The quickest way to this hipster’s heart.
Catch a spot on the patio on a summer evening and eat slow. There are loads of courses, delicious wine pairings & don’t forget to bring good company.
All in all this swanky bistro won me over. Definitely not what comes to mind when most people think “Italian Restaurant” (no unlimited bowls of soup, salad or breadsticks…ahem…) but creative flavour combos and locally sourced ingredients are certainly worth expanding your palette for.