I recently attended a media-tasting event at Paese Ristorante hosted by Jojoinstameets. Paese Ristorante is an Italian restaurant that utilizes a hand-crafted and homemade approach to their menu. They grow fresh herbs and vegetables, in their restaurant operated garden, to use in their dishes. I found their menu to be very inclusive with several gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options. The atmosphere was modern, cozy, and romantic on the main-floor and there is also a bright private dining room upstairs that gets great natural light.
Paese is a wine lover’s dream with one of Toronto’s most extensive wine collections. They carry over 800 labels from all of the world’s top producing regions. There are trained Sommeliers on staff that can help you choose the perfect wine to compliment your meal. From Sunday to Friday you can also bring your own wine to Paese!
Bonus: There is no corkage fee on the first bottle!
The cork wall has over 50,000 corks. Be sure to check it out! The cocktail menu features many unique options including a drink topped with flame-roasted fresh rosemary. I had the classic mojito and it was delightful.
I was fortunate to try a twelve course meal. We ate family style and the service was exceptional. Overall the meal was very memorable, and as I was trying the dishes various family and friends were coming to mind who I would have to recommend them to!
Let’s go course by course and I’ll let you know which dishes were standouts and which missed the mark.
Warm Olives: They were lightly marinated in rosemary, citrus and olive oil. The presentation was beautiful and if you’re the type of person who demands olives with every meal then they won’t disappoint. Personally, I would order the other more interesting appetizers before getting this one again.
Polenta Fries: The fries were served with tasty sun-dried tomato ketchup and garlic aioli. They were chunky, crispy on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside. I was a big fan! I would definitely order them again.
Vegetable Frito Misto: Lightly breaded and perfectly cooked assorted vegetables. I loved the brussel sprouts in this dish and garlic aioli was a nice flavour boost!
Carciofi Fritti: These crispy artichokes missed the mark for me. I was excited to try this dish since I love artichokes and rarely come across them highlighted on restaurant menus. But I found this dish salty with much of the flavour of the artichoke overpowered by the seasoning.
21 Ingredient Slaw: An equally delicious and beautiful salad. 21 fresh ingredients that come together in a complimentary flavour fiesta. This one is definitely on the must-try list!
Grilled Shrimp: The shrimp, although cooked well, were not outstanding compared to the other dishes in their category. The presentation was lovely, but both the shrimp and veggies were barely seasoned and underwhelming.
Gluten Free Pizzas on House-made Cauliflower Crust: I would go back to Paese just for these delicious pizzas on their amazing cauliflower crust. I’ve made cauliflower crust before and it’s quite the tedious process. It’s unfortunately rarely available at restaurants. Unlike other versions I have tried, this one holds together well and was very tasty.
I enjoyed the crust so much I bought two to make my own pizzas at home. They sell the crusts frozen for $7.50.
Perhaps the most unexpected hero of the night, the cauliflower crust stole the show. A definite must-try!
Chickpea Bolognese: Crispy and fresh zucchini noodles topped with a hearty and flavourful chickpea bolognese sauce. This was another crowd-pleaser! I would highly recommend this dish; the fragrant sauce will leave you satisfied and very impressed.
Penne Pesto: This dish featured chicken and an unexpected side-kick, potato! I enjoyed this traditional dish, but I’ll be honest I preferred the zucchini noodles over the penne. I could have eaten the entire zucchini noodle dish on my own, where as the penne would be something I would prefer as a small side to my meal. The al dente pasta coupled with the starchy potato made it feel heavy despite the light sauce.
Grilled Salmon: The salmon was served with wild rice and a red pepper sauce. I don’t order fish at restaurants often; I’ve been burned by dry over-cooked salmon too many times. This was not the case with this dish. The salmon was perfectly cooked and I loved the red-pepper sauce. Another fantastic light and healthy option!
Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake: The zesty lemon was a perfect compliment to the delicate and satisfying ricotta cheesecake. I really enjoyed this dessert and would highly recommend it
Cannoli: I love candied orange and this cannoli packed a powerful zesty orange punch! The ricotta filling had heavy flavour notes of orange liqueur. I thought it was perfectly complemented by the abundance of mini chocolate chips. The shell was also noteworthy, crispy but not too thick, the ideal ratio of filling and shell. I was raving about the cannoli at the end of the night! Another must-try.
Paese Ristorante had many note-worthy dishes and I’m so glad I discovered it! It’s one of my new favourite spots for Italian food in the city. I’ll definitely be going back with family and friends. Pasta and Pizza can be so heavy, it was nice to enjoy such a large meal and feel great afterwards. The sauces were light, the cauliflower crust was amazing, the zucchini noodles were out of this world! This coupled with the beautiful atmosphere and impressive service makes Paese the perfect spot for your next date or family dinner. The desserts were so good I would even go back just for cannoli and coffee!
Review By: Sofia Martimianakis