The Junction is known for homey, neighbourhood restaurants. Despite its thoughtful design and Italian language (not just food) on the menu, don’t let NODO fool you into thinking they’re anything but warm and welcoming… just like nona’s kitchen! A project 10 years in the making, NODO is a long-time labour of love between three high school buddies — Gianmarco DeZorzi, Vito Tomasicchio, and Charlie Giordano. After nearly a year of acquisition and renovation — and 6 weeks of service — the trio feel like they’re finally filling the need for what they call a “cultural neighbourhood Italian restaurant” in the area.
“The support from the neighbourhood has been overwhelming,” says DeZorzi. “We always wanted to establish our roots with the locals first, and we couldn’t be more thankful for the welcome we’ve received.”
The dining room is bright and balanced, as the afternoon sunlight streams in through the front windows. There’s tasteful contrast between the studded black leather banquettes and the paneled white walls that display a thoughtful collection of antiques. There’s something to look at wherever one’s eye lands. Designer Ines Risi worked alongside the boys, sourcing much of the antiques from the ‘hood — including large lots from Smash, directly across the street.
A laneway down the centre of the long, narrow space allows tables to be shuffled around if needed. There’s also a private room with a harvest table that can accommodate up to 14 diners – it’s the only space one can reserve.
The menu is as extensive as it is intriguing. Nothing is above $20.00, leaving the door wide open to be playful and experiment with new dishes. Flavours range from all parts of Italy. The palate is distinctly authentic. Head Chef Roberto Marotta (Maialino Enoteca) hails from Sicily and was a shoe-in after an arduous selection process that saw many talented chefs come through the door with just “not the right touch”.
The all-Italian wine list is approachable, with almost 20 selections by the glass and ½ litre. Bottles are arranged according to price range ($35.00, $45.00, $55.00, $75.00, $90.00) and are accompanied by tasting notes. If you must get one cocktail, try the Mojito ‘Momila with Sibona chamomile grappa and Mio Gasosa – the Italian soft drink every bambino grew up with.
Soups are vegetarian. Small plates and salads are a step beyond what you’d expect. Antipasti run $14.00 a piece – the carpaccio e ‘rucola combines melt-in-your-mouth beef tenderloin with toasted pine nuts, fried capers, arugula, lemon zest, and aromatic truffle pecorino. You need (read: want) each element in every bite.
Like almost everything else, their salumi selection is made from scratch in-house. Pasta is made fresh off-site using Chef Marotta’s recipe. Gluten-free and spelt pasta are available upon request (+$1.50). Gnocchi is made on-site. Gelato and fresh bread are brought in.
We had to send the wholesome pappardelle with slow-roast seven-spice Brome Lake duck ragu and white chanterelles back to the kitchen – it was plated too perfectly for pictures. DeZorzi was adamant that dishes not look too polished. “We’re not that kind of restaurant. We’re not stuffy. Things are meant to be casual and feel homey.” The taste might suggest otherwise. It was spot on for the cooling weather.
Pizza is stone baked in a Moretti Forni pizza oven, imported from Italy. Mains come in huge portions. And don’t forget to finish the meal with a fresh hand-made Sicilian cannoli, filled with sweet ricotta crema, alongside your espresso.
The word NODO in Italian means “knot” – an ode to the Junction neighbourhood and the coming together of three friends and their chef, according to Tomasicchio. As it stands, things are pretty tight here at NODO. Don’t expect the threads to unravel anytime soon.
What are your thoughts on NODO? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.