Every neighbourhood in Toronto deserves its very own “casual Italian fare” spot. Paisano’s at Willowdale and Sheppard, was our go-to in my part of North York and we recently discovered that Marcello’s rises above the St. Clair West crowd to claim a devoted following on Corso Italia. The suits and skirt-suits who work around Queen and University — no one’s allowed to live that close to the centre of the universe, right? — can get their fix for gourmet, straight-ahead Italian at Little Anthony’s Restaurant and Bar.
The downtown osteria held a media dinner to showcase their new menu last month. The jointly-responsible occasions for this event were: the 1-year anniversary of Andreas Antoniou taking charge of the restaurant his family owns (he also runs Estiatorias VOLOS), and hiring Chef Garth Legree (County General) to take over from Aaron Foster.
All of us managed to fit into the large private room (still a surprising rarity downtown) at the back of the restaurant for the event. I heard from our tablemates that Antoniou and designer Mark Kryacou wanted this to be a space separate from the bustle at the front of the establishment.
The full menu, including drink pairings from general manager Matt Roulston, is listed below. For me, highlights were the Shrimp Scampi (“fried bread” a combination of English words that I think we can agree has a Pavlovian effect) and the crispy chicken thigh from the Roasted Capon course–not surprising if you remember what Chef Legree’s last restaurant is known for. We were told that the house-made pasta is a major focus for the restaurant and I wish we had been given a clearer preview of that, but I understand that fresh pasta for thirty at once can be a challenge.
Signature cocktail “Milano Sunrise”
Scamorza, Saffron Bechamel, Watercress, Breadcrumb
Bacon Wrapped Dates
2011 Soave Classico PRA, Monteforte d’Alpano, Veneto, Italy
Lemon Butter Sauce, Fried Bread, Parsley & Arugula Salad
Tagliatelle alla Carbonara
Pancetta, Egg Yolk, Parmigiano Reggiano, Parsley, Nutmeg
Pan Seared Scallop
Grilled Radicchio, Marjoram & Garlic Vinaigrette, Smoked Bacon
2010 Chianti Classico, Castello Di Verrazzano, Tuscany, Italy
6 oz Flat Iron Steak
Potato Gnocchi, Roasted Mushrooms, Thyme & Peppercorn Sauce
Filetto di Branzino
White Beans, Lemon Al Burro, P.E.I. Mussels, Braised Fennel, Orange
Brown Lentils, Crispy Confit Thigh, Glazed Spring Vegetables