For over eight months (since they opened) I have wanted to check out Ascari Enoteca 26, the 2nd child for Erik Joyal and John Sinnopoli of Table 17. For some reason, getting there was always such an issue and while so many of my foodie friends raved about how amazing the food and vibe were, it took me this long to get my butt over there. But a couple of weekends ago was the perfect time to go – boyfriend out of town, gorgeous sunny day, and I had a nice birthday gift for my great friend Val of I’m Charming You. So we ventured east to check out this well reputed Italian eatery inspired by racecar driver Alberto Ascari. (Read Val’s post and check out the charms we added to her Pandora bracelet.)
The first thing you notice upon entering is that the décor is adorably charming but this place is tiny! Sitting at the bar, which Erik told me was the best seat in the house, is quite entertaining. First the bartender is outstanding and never misses a beat, and second, you get to see all the kitchen action. The amount of food they are able to get out of the very small open kitchen is most impressive. As soon as we parked ourselves at the bar, super-barman came over and convinced us to indulge in a lovely sparkling wine (prestige blanc Grand Cuvee) and told us they had saved their last order of zucchini flowers just for us – I don’t know how they knew that these are my favourite but thank God they saved us that order as I would’ve been tragically disappointed if they hadn’t! They were phenomenal – lightly battered, deep-fried and stuffed with house-made ricotta that tasted delicious without overpowering the fresh taste of the zucchini flower. Really delicious – it’s a seasonal special so if you love these, get over there!
As the meal went on, only more deliciousness came out and I’m pretty sure I gained five pounds that night. We indulged in chicken liver mousse (Crostini alla Toscana), a potato croquette stuffed with lamb ragu and risotto, a raddichio and marcona almond salad (which I LOVED), forest mushroom and truffle tagliatelle, and linguine alla vongole with fresh clams and crispy anchovies. The wine we ordered was one of the best bottles of wine I’ve had in a while. Medium bodied and rich with earthy flavours, 2009 La Stoppa Rosso was only $63 yet tasted like a $150 bottle. Their list is excellent with wines coming from all over the world, none available at the LCBO.
The entire dinner was flawless. I have absolutely nothing bad to say or even anything mediocre. I now have to make a point to go back soon and not wait another year. Thank God in September we move closer to them – sadly, that also means I might be getting a little bit fatter…
Ascari Enoteca is located at 1111 Queen Street East | www.AscariEnoteca.ca
PS Check out Ascari’s photo gallery on Facebook from our meal here.