Saturday, 21 July 2012

Scarpetta - Toronto

Thompson Hotel
550 Wellington Street West
Toronto, Ontario


In her opinion:
For our second anniversary dinner this year, we picked Scarpetta at the sexy Thompson Hotel. Scarpetta has been on my food radar for a while and I'm glad we had the opportunity to try it. We opted for the Summerlicious menu since it seemed like the best value. However, we also opted to try one of their signature dishes that wasn't on the Summerlicious menu.

To start, we ordered the "Crispy Fritto Misto". This item was not on their Summerlicious menu but I had heard such good things about it that I had to try. It is described on the menu as seafood, vegetable, herbs and lemon. 

Let's just say...this was absolutely delish.  The kitchen had split the serving onto two plates, so the above picture is of half the actual serving. The seafood (calamari and shrimp) was crispy and delicious. The vegetables were cut into julienne strips and fried perfectly.I noted potato, sweet potato, eggplant, garlic and zucchini. This was sprinkled with deep fried parsley, sage and rosemary. Very very good.

For the first course of my Summerlicious menu, I picked the 
the "Creamy Polenta". This is served with a fricasse of truffled mushrooms.

Where to start? First, I have never had such delicious polenta in all my life.  It was beyond words but I'll try...creamy, buttery and absolutely delectable. The fricasse of mushrooms was an absolute dream.  This combination consisting of earthy mushrooms, caramelized onion, chives and white truffle was truly unforgettable. 

I was pretty full after the first two courses, so when our waiter came over with a server bearing two bowls of complimentary tomato and basil spaghetti, I was both grateful to Chef Hunter and a little apprehensive. Afterall, I still had my main course and dessert. But this is a Scarpetta signature dish and I had a blog audience to think about!

Well, I can see why it is a signature dish. Probably one of the best spaghetti dishes I have ever had. Tomato, garlic and basil melded together in perfect harmony! 

For my Summerlicious main course, I picked the "Heritage Pork Chop". This was served with braised endive, apricot mostarda and fava puree. 

This was a very generous portion of perfectly cooked pork. It was perfectly seasoned and I could pick up notes of Dijon, rosemary and thyme. The braised endive was delicious. The fava puree and whole fava beans provided a degree of freshness. The apricot mostarda added the right amount of sweetness. Overall, a very well composed dish. 

For my final Summerlicious course, dessert, I picked the Amedei Chocolate Cake. It was served with burnt orange-caramel gelato and espresso sauce.

This cake was awesome. Only second to the Julie gateau at La Plage Restaurant in St. Barths. It was moist, rich and so so delicious. The gelato was also very nice. Smooth and luscious. The perfect accompaniment to this outstanding cake.

We got a table visit from Chef Hunter after our dessert course. He was very gracious. Great guy! And he officially has my vote for the hottest chef in Toronto.

Photo courtesy of @Chef__Hunter
Overall, the perfect anniversary dinner.  I was very happy that we spent our 14th anniversary at Scarpetta. I would like to return to their rooftop lounge and more of Chef Hunter's delicious food!

In his opinion:

When chef/restaurateur and now Food Network star Scott Conant decided to expand his Scarpetta franchise to Toronto back in 2010, it was received with open arms by foodies and critics alike. After all, this quintessential NY Italian eatery was already a household name before it was diploid to Toronto, Miami Beach, Beverly Hills and Las Vegas.

The Toronto location of Scarpetta is inside the ultra chic and sophisticated Thompson Hotel and its decor is a perfect match to the hotel's sleekness and modern lines. The Bar is outside the dining room and it's majestic. It provokes a sense of being grandiose but the flashy "look at me" kind, well matched with the "art" wall that sits in front of it.

As you enter the dining room, the sleek, contemporary lines carry on the same theme, with lots of wood and glass, floor to wall windows and black trimmed glass doors. In the middle of the room, the S shaped banquets are very spacious and conducive to mingling and food sharing, this was very well thought of in the planning.

The server took our drink order and comes back with the bread basket. Well, that's when the night began for me. An assortment of breads ranging from focaccia cubes, Ace dinner rolls, multi-grain bread and the crowd favorite, the Stromboli. Stromboli for those that have not yet had the pleasure (and I do mean "the pleasure"), to have it, is essentially a turnover type of Italian bread dough filled with cheese (usually mozzarella) and salami (usually capicola). To quote my tweet while eating it "those of you that have not had Scarpetta's Stromboli, are missing out a lot". It was that good. The bread was served with 3 choices of spread/dip. Olive oil, eggplant caponata and mascarpone butter.

Bread basket and 3 bread dippers.

Having already a good idea of what I was going to order (for a change), we put our order in but also decided to try something off the regular menu. Crispy Fritto Misto is a lighly battered mixture of fried vegetables and seafood. Delicious, light, crispy strips of seafood and thinly sliced vegetables sprinkled with parsley, garlic and rosemary, and a healthy dose of salt as topping. The type of dish you can eat all day and night. This recipe is featured by Chef Conant on the Food Network site, so click here to get it.

My appetizer was one of my favourite dishes, "braised short ribs of beef". Served on a bed of farro risotto and with sliced summer vegetables. The ribs were perfectly done, with a hint of smokey taste and melt in your mouth delicious. The risotto was also perfectly executed.

While waiting for our entrees, Chef Michael Hunter was so kind to send us a complimentary dish of Scarpetta's famous Spaghetti. I'm the first one to admit that the thought of spaghetti brings me back to my childhood and my mother's attempt at Italian food, which failed miserably every time. Reluctantly but knowing that this is what they are known for, I dove into the spaghetti with tomato and basil, and bite after bite, my old memories were being erased and replaced with new ones of a much higher caliber. Inadvertently, Chef Michael Hunter's attempt at making me like spaghetti, worked like a charm, and I was very happy.

For entree, I chose the Roasted Organic Chicken with fava beans, asparagus and herbed Spaetzle (egg noodles of soft texture). The chicken was tender and moist with flavourful crispy skin and the Spaetzle was delectable and soft.

After I had indulged in a few repeats of Stromboli bread, I picked "Espresso Semifredo" (creamy, fluffy coffee ice cream pie) for dessert. It came with mini whoopie pies, homemade granola and creme anglaise. The ice cream especially was just amazing and subtle with just enough espresso taste not to be overpowering. I followed up with my usual espresso dopio and by then I was so full and fulfilled that I could not eat another morsel of food, even if I tried (and I didn't).

Chef Michael Hunter come to see us at our table, wishing us a happy anniversary and thanking us for being there. He was very courteous, humble and friendly in his short visit to our table, but long enough to make us feel special on our particularly great night.

Let's not forget that in late 2010, this restaurant was getting horrible reviews for service, pretentiousness and bland food. Those are things of the past as the service was impeccable and Chef Hunter has turned this kitchen around to truly reflect the original NY taste and flavour.

The Good: Great presentation and execution of "Italian home cooking", delivered in a contrasting contemporary room. Signature dishes live up to and surpass their reputation.
The Bad: Out of the 5 amazing servers that helped us, one particular lady (that only brought us the desserts) was not up to the caliber of this restaurant.
The Verdict: Sophisticated and soft ambiance rooms that serve "homemade food" are not easy to come by, especially when they make the combination seem like a marriage made in heaven. Go try them and have their signature dishes, they are well worth it.

I give them 4 Olives out of 5 as rating

Scarpetta on Urbanspoon


  1. Hola Edgar! Qué bueno haber encontrado tu blog! Por lo que veo, compartimos los mismos intereses: Comida!


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