At the end of June, I received this postcard from my eating pal C.Wong who was ecstatic about her meal at the newly opened Enoteca Sociale (1288 Dundas Street West). I hold her food opinions in high regard and the simple, post-marked rave review indicated that a visit of my own was in order.
Thankfully my friend Shannon was up for a late weeknight meal at the self-described “real Italian wine bar.” I’ve been following the restaurant’s Twitter feed and salivating at the daily specials and Chef Rocco Agostino’s Nonna-inspired menu. In fact, I studied Enoteca’s offerings so closely, that I knew exactly how I wanted to start my meal.
Up first was the Ontario Buffalo Mozzarella, Heirloom Tomatoes & Marinated Anchovies ($11). The yellow and green tomatoes were absolutely gorgeous, the cheese creamy and soft, and the anchovies were distinct but not as salty as I expected.
Postcard-writer C.Wong highly recommended the Artichoke Fries ($8). She described it as sliced artichoke pieces that were lightly battered, fried and then served with the most delicious garlicky aioli. I’d say her description and her insistence that we order it was spot on.
I really respect Enoteca Sociale’s commitment to not serve bottled water. Among the other ideologies stated on their website: “We do not serve bottled water, in order to reduce the carbon foot print and other environmental ramifications of this trend. We instead serve purified Toronto water and carbonated filtered water.” Three cheers for that!
The space itself is very lively and warm, with a casual, rustic feel. The only downside is the acoustics. The exposed brick means sound bounces easily and at times it’s hard to hear what the person across from you is saying.
Thankfully one thing I did hear (albeit beforehand) is the pastas are superb, which prompted Shannon to order the Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe ($10). This was a shallow bowl of perfectly cooked noodles, pecorino cheese and black pepper. Perfectly simple and perfectly delectable.
I was yearning for the polenta and braised oxtail I’d heard so much about, but sadly it wasn’t among the specials that night. Instead I went with Bucatini All-Amatriciana ($12). The portion is not huge, but likely a proper amount. The thick tubular pasta was well coated in the spicy tomato sauce and dotted with guanciale. (If you’re not sure what kind of meat this is, do yourself a favour and don’t wiki it. There’s an accompanying photo that made me squeamish.) I unfortunately had that visual burned into my brain when I ate this, but that didn’t stop me from immensely enjoying the noodles. It had the perfect amount of kick and the sauce was so good that at the end I was left scraping the dish with my fork, trying to devour every last remnant. It was slightly embarrassing, really.
Now Magazine may have given Enoteca Sociale only a so-so write-up with a 2/5 rating, but in this case, I’m glad I trusted the C.Wong postcard review. (In regards to the Now criticisms, the waitress didn’t once try to up-sell or push the tasting menu on us.) So if you’re gonna listen to only one trustworthy source, take it from the one that required a stamp and featured three simple words: “It was delicious!”
Enoteca Sociale / 1288 Dundas St. West, Toronto
416 534 1200 / Hours: Daily 5-11pm