Il Fornello has been a longtime Toronto favourite for wood-fired pizza and fresh made pasta. I attended a media-tasting yesterday to sample their all new vegan menu. Luckily, I took tons of pictures because words alone wouldn’t do it justice. It was an absolute delight!
Il Fornello brought in a vegetarian chef, Margie Cook, to design their new menu. Margie is a Certified Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator as well as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. She was at the event last night to tell us all about the new dishes and her inspiration behind the menu. Her mission was to create delicious stand-alone vegan dishes from scratch. She didn’t want to make vegan versions of existing menu items that just altered or omitted a few ingredients.
Each ingredient that made it into the dish was carefully chosen to help shape the flavour profile. The vegan menu showcases how, with the help of innovative chefs like Margie, plant-based cuisine has come a long way in the last decade. Margie successfully created a full-course vegan menu that’s just as tasty as the omnivore fare at Il Fornello.
THE VEGAN MENU
Grilled ciabatta topped with olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, basil 9.95
Arugula, shaved fennel, walnuts, radishes, orange segments, lemon dressing 9.25
AVOCADO CAESAR WITH PARMESAN
Crispy romaine with an avocado, lemon juice based dressing topped with
our own plant-based parmesan cheese 9.75
Review: The vegan caesar was creamy, light and tasted very much like a regular caesar just slightly less salty and with a hint of nuttiness. I really enjoyed the refreshing lightness to this dish.
Prior to yesterday’s event I didn’t realize beer and wine is sometimes processed using animal products like egg whites and gelatin. Il Fornello features vegan wine and beer on their new menu.
ERA MONTEPULCIANO D’ABRUZZO DOC ORGANIC ’16 Marche, Italy
Medium-bodied / berry fruit, cedar, savoury herb flavours
6oz 9.79 / 9oz 14.49 / ½ litre 28.39 / 750ml 37.89
BEAU’S FULL TIME I.P.A.
Hoppy, fruity, bold 600ml 15.00
Dark, malty, crisp 600ml 15.00
A vegan pizza with tomato sauce, Daiya non-dairy cheese, Tuscan kale,
caramelized onions, roasted red peppers 16.95
Review: Only slightly less cheesy than their regular pizzas, the pizza vegano is an excellent choice. Despite the Daiya non-dairy cheese not melting very well, the pizza’s other toppings made up for it! Another flavourful and well-crafted dish.
ASPARAGUS PIZZA (Vegetarian)
With olive oil, potatoes, asparagus, caramelized onions, brie, maldon salt 15.95
With spinach, chickpeas, black olives with a light tomato sauce
finished with ricotta salata 14.00
KALE & GREEN PEA RADIATORE
Gluten-free noodle with cherry tomatoes, kale, eggplant, garlic, olive oil 17.95
Beyond Beef Crumble in our pomodoro sauce 19.00
Review: I had to verify with the server that this dish was in fact vegan.
The Beyond Beef Crumble has an uncanny resemblance to ground beef in both texture and flavour.
The sauce was hearty with a rich beef flavour. The dish still had a freshness and lightness to it from its low-fat ingredients and you could easily finish it off without help!
BAKED SWEET POTATO MAC AND CHEESE
Review: Soon the be added to the menu, this dish is a must-try! A light mac and cheese with a creamy sweet potato sauce. I especially loved the mild sweetness the sweet potato brought to the dish. This is the pasta I would first crave and go back for, and unlike regular mac and cheese I know it won’t leave me feeling like I consumed a brick. The perfect amount of indulgence without the oily heaviness.
Made with Ripple pea-protein, our own plant-based parmesan cheese,
Earth Balance buttery spread 19.00
AGNOLOTTI IN BUTTER SAUCE
Agnolotti filled with our tofu, cashew based ricotta in a vegan butter sauce
with sautéed mushrooms *contains nuts 19.00
Review: Not being a fan of tofu, I didn’t think I would enjoy this dish. In texture, the filling is very similar to ricotta with a nice richness from the cashew. Flavour wise it’s fantastic and well-balanced. Filled pastas are my favourites but I’m never able to finish the entire dish on my own since they’re typically very heavy. This dish was definitely an exception!
“BEYOND BEEF” VEGETARIAN BURGER
A quarter pound, plant-based patty on sesame Brioche bun with avocado,
lettuce, roasted red pepper aioli & caramelized onions served with
sweet potato fries or our Avocado Caesar Salad 15.95
additional toppings: white cheddar OR gorgonzola add 2.00
MAKE IT A VEGAN BURGER
We offer a vegan bun to make your burger 100% vegan
additional toppings: vegan super blue cheese OR vegan cheddar add 2.50
RAW VEGAN BROWNIE
Review: Soon the be added to the menu, this raw vegan brownie is magnificent! It’s served slightly chilled with berries and dairy-free cream. The brownie is moist, with a bold chocolate flavour. The dairy-free cream is delicious and with the fresh strawberries it’s the perfect end to your summer meal on the patio.
Whether your vegetarian, vegan, or like me a big meat-eater the new Il Fornello menu is sure to please! When I dine out, I like to try dishes I don’t normally cook at home often. I’m confident that I could by no means make plant-based proteins taste this good at home. So good that I would order them over the regular menu items. That mac and cheese? I’m craving it again already. And the brownie? I could demolish that brownie at any time of the day! I’ve definitely been inspired to try my hand at cooking some vegan mains for my family.
Do you have any vegan recipe recommendations for me?