To practice spontanaeity (I’m told this is important) we decided, at the last minute, to enjoy Friday’s warm weather by dining on the patio at Capocaccia. Kat and I both enjoyed ourselves completely and I think I have formulated a new rule for Toronto restaurant hunting:
- If you seek a casual, neighbourhood Italian restaurant that serves straighforward, delicious food and provides friendly service, find yourself a Terroni and take your business across the street.
Because it has been “internationally successful” we are told that that we should be proud of Terroni. They do serve a couple of decent pizzas and some of their appetizers are pretty good but I can’t forgive the general attitude that comes with their emphasis on mimicking the wrong characteristics–no substitutions, no Diet Coke, and the kitchen refuses to lay a knife to a pizza before sending it out–in their quest for authenticity. My views on Terroni might one day make a separate post but for now it’s presence across the street from Capocaccia is important because (on top of providing the overflow business that I bet keeps Capocaccia afloat) it makes for an excellent contrast in style.
The service during our meal was certainly not perfect but thankfully for every step back Capocaccia takes two steps forward. For instance, we were welcomed warmly and asked to take a seat at the bar, the bartender studiously ignored us, but the host returned in a few minutes (just before the bartender ran out of excuses to avoid eye contact) to guide us to our table. We had to ask for bread but when it arrived it was crusty, satisfying, complimentary, and served with a saucer of decent olive oil.
We split the Antipasto Misto ($15.95) to start. The presentation is a little fussy but it works for two diners and obviously the taste of the salami and smoked provolone (both quite good) was not dimished because they were served in a cutesy, coiled bunch. I’m pretty sure that smoked salmon is not a strictly authentic antipasto component but I love it and therefore don’t care.
For my main I enjoyed the white Dante pizza ($13.95) with gorgonzola, pears, parma prosciutto, and pecans. These toppings make for an excellent quartet of contrasting saltiness and sweetness that I absolutely loved. It’s just too bad that they topped (the prosciutto went on, thankfully, after the pie came from the oven) a crust that was slightly over-thick and considerably under-done. The edge crust was only barely golden and the bottom only a shade darker than raw dough.
So that we covered both of the two principal casual Italian food groups Kat ordered a pasta, the Fettucine Prado ($17.95). This dish features two massive prawns–to my surprise cooked very close to perfectly–on top of an excellent pink sauce (I admit that it would be hard for me to fault any pasta sauce that includes chunks of double-smoked bacon) that dresses enjoyably al dente fettucine. Kat pointed out that this pink sauce managed the unusual trick of balancing just enough tomato against the right amount of cream.
A relevant aside: I am absolutely flabbergasted that when the province’s health authorities wrote the regulation that restricts what animals are allowed near food service (http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/regs/english/elaws_regs_900562_e.htm scroll to 59 (e) (ii)) they lumped schnauzers in with circus elephants and drew no distinction between outdoor patios and the walk-in at a sushi restaurant. So as not to get anyone in trouble I’ll say that I bet Capocaccia’s management is, selectively, just as flabbergasted and leave it at that.
Capocaccia is not quite good enough to be considered a destination restaurant but it is our favourite neighbourhood Italian joint. So long as you’re willing to take a role in finding perfection–ask for bread, your pizza to be left in the oven a minute longer than usual, and a table on the amazingly-well placed streetside patio–I feel confident recommending this restaurant.
Capocaccia: 1366 Yonge St. (just south of St. Clair); 416-921-3141