Scarpetta (Toronto)

Hands down the best bread basket

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 550 Wellington Street West
Website: http://www.scottconant.com/restaurants//scarpetta/toronto
Type of Meal: Dinner
 
 
My first experience eating at Scarpetta was in Las Vegas after spending most of the afternoon outdoors for some fun in the sun at a pool party. After not eating since
breakfast, we were famished and right after ordering they presented us with a basket of stromboli (bread pin wheeled with salami), it was the most delicious thing at that time.
 
I'm happy to say the Toronto offshoot also offers this delicious bread (and more). In fact, their bread basket not only comes with the stromboli, but also crispy wedges of focaccia and soft airy ciabatta buns. Served with mascarpone whipped butter, caponata (like a vegetable tapenade) and olive oil, it’s perhaps the best bread basket I’ve ever had! It’s so good that a big risk of eating there is you’ll fill up before you food actually arrives. This is particularly a shame if you’re about to eat a three course Summerlicious menu!
 
Of the five restaurants I visited this year, Scarpetta was the only one that served everything I ordered on their regular menu. I feel they should be commended for this as you don’t get the feeling that they’re serving you a "slimmed down" version for the occasion. I wish more restaurants would follow this trend as what’s the point of eating something they don’t normally offer?
 
The highlights of the meal were the appetizers, so delicious that I could go back and just order a couple of them to be a meal itself.  My appetizer consisted of a generous portion of braised short ribs; three slices of tender yet non-fatty beef.  Sometimes braised meat can be overly salty but Scarpetta’s had just the right amount of flavour and went well with the farro risotto.  Mixed into the risotto were cubes of zucchini, other vegetables and gooey mild cheese.  To make this decadent dish even better a thin slice of parmesan cheese covered everything.
 
My friend’s creamy polenta was absolutely delicious and the most buttery rich polenta I’ve ever had.  Served with a little pot of mushrooms cooked with truffles, once spooned on the cheesy polenta it’s a dish that you wish you ordered yourself and could eat more of.
 
When the roasted pork chop arrived I was astounded by the sheer size of it.  Even though it was 1.5 inches thick, the meat was evenly cooked throughout and still tender - even the meat right at the bone was cooked to the same doneness as everything else.  I commend the kitchen for the great job they did at cooking the pork. The massive crusted chop sat on top a dollop of shallot puree and mixed sautéed greens.  On the side was a small rectangle of deep fried pork jowl.  I’m normally a big fan of the uber tender cheek meat; but, this was brined so much that it was unbearably salty so I just couldn’t enjoy it, what a shame.      
 
If you look at the picture below you may be under the illusion that the panna cotta is the small football shaped object on the side of dish.  In fact, that is just a coconut cream; the panna cotta is actually the entire bottom of the dish!  Covered with passion fruit syrup and pieces of diced pineapple the panna cotta was rich and flavourful.  If eaten with the pineapple it’s more tangy and light, whereas you can mix in the creamy coconut addition to sweeten everything up.  Scarpetta’s panna cotta was one of the best I’ve had. 
 
My friend’s cheesecake arrived like a work of art – one of the cylinders vanilla and the other blueberry. Served with marinated berries and crumbles of graham crackers on top, it was a good deconstructed cheesecake.
 
Scarpetta is where you go if you want decadent food; it’s definitely not for the health conscious.  With their hefty portions you certainly get the feeling that you’re enjoying a hearty home cooked Italian meal. Yet, their dining room is open and airy with high ceilings and the floor to ceiling windows.  Other than a large wine fridge along one wall everything is nice and opened and contemporary looking.  In the end, Scarpetta was a nice combination of delicious Italian food in a modern setting.  It’s definitely worth a try, just for their bread basket alone!
 
 
Is Summerlicious worth it?
As a special feature to the Summerlicious blogs, I will attempt to calculate the savings being offered (based on my meal selection).   
 
Summerlicious - $45
Regular menu - $63 - short ribs ($16), pork chop ($35) and panna cotta ($12)
 
Savings - $18 or 29%
* Congratulations to Scarpetta who actually offers the same dishes that's on their regular menu on the Summerlicious menu!

Overall mark -  8 out of 10

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____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System
  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!
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