Address: 3827 Bathurst St., Toronto, ON
When I visited: September 2016, Dinner, 2 people
*The CONTEST IS CLOSED, thank you all for entering!
Did you know that Paese has been around since 1989? This neighbourhood gem is now one of my favourite Italian restaurants in Toronto. In Italian, ‘Paese’ can reference a country, land; region, or village and pronounced ‘pie-ez-zeh’.
Paese is located on Bathurst St., just north of the 401. I have driven by Paese a million times, but admittedly I have not noticed the restaurant until recently. The restaurant and L-eat Catering are in one building and can be easily missed driving by. My husband and I had to find street parking as the parking lot was full on a weeknight; a great sign that the restaurant was busy. Inside, the 2 story restaurant had a classic Italian restaurant feel with warm lighting and a large bar.
The restaurant is owned by Tony Loschiavo who moved to Canada from Southern Italy in 1965 when he was 3 years old. He had a passion for food and its preparation at a young age and worked in the food industry his entire life. In 1983, he founded L-eat Catering and in 1989, he opened the first Paese Italian restaurant in Toronto.
“Inspired in Italy, Made in Canada” is the philosophy of Paese and they have a menu that reflects that. Their Chefs use traditional techniques to create dishes with a modern appeal. Paese believes that high-quality ingredients prepared with home care help to create the best results. Paese has a garden about 2 blocks from the restaurant to provide some of the fresh herbs and vegetables used by the chefs. The garden also helps the chefs appreciate the hard work that goes into maintaining and growing fresh produce.
Paese also bottles their own extra virgin Italian olive oil with olives from Sicily (available for purchase), and even make their own hot sauce.
What we ordered:
The lunch and dinner menu was categorized by salads, antipasto, pasta, fish and meat, sides, with a separate dessert menu. My husband and I have quite the appetite and tried a variety of dishes on their menu, as well as their daily specials.
I started out with a glass of 2013 St. Francis Cabernet Sauvignon from California ($15) and an Italian Mojito with rum and lemocello ($14). Paese has a massive and impressive wine selection with about 20 pages on their wine list.
Fig Salad with Prosciutto and Arugula. This pretty dish was a daily special featuring the figs from the Paese garden. These were classic ingredients that paired well together (forgot to ask for the price).
Grilled Calamari on a bed of spinach, sundried tomatoes, olives and brown butter ($13). I enjoyed the tender calamari but even more so, the vegetables that paired with it.
Grilled Octopus with potato, grilled escarole, mint, and lemon chill ($16). This has to be my favourite grilled octopus dish I have eaten so far in Toronto. I loved the smokiness from the charred octopus while the tentacles were still tender. The aioli like sauce helped to brighten up the dish.
Roasted Scallops with a fennel and tarragon slaw, citrus and blood orange vinaigrette ($16). These scallops were a tad overcooked but what a smart way to serve the scallops with bright flavours and beautiful plating.
Stuffed Olives-Focaccia-crusted green olives with veal, pecorino and charred tomato aioli ($12). This was the 1st time I have had these and it won’t be the last. The veal was strategically placed inside the olive which was impressive!
Laabroni Pizza with lamb sausage, goat cheese, spinach, caramelized onions and tomato sauce ($18). I don’t normally order pizza with goat cheese, but this combination worked well. The outer crust was crispy while the center dough was more soft. I prefer the entire thin crust to be crispier, but it was still good and held up the toppings.
Whole Grilled Branzino with potatoes and beans ($33). The whole fish changes frequently and I lucked out being able to order this Italian favourite. The inside was stuffed with lemon and thyme. Even after eating all the appetizers, I devoured this entire plate!
Steak in a Red Wine Jus ($38). The thick sirloin steak was a daily special served with beans, beets and potatoes. My husband enjoyed his flavourful medium rare steak.
Butterscotch Pudding which consisted of a salted caramel sauce, whipped cream and a pine nut and rosemary praline ($11). This was a filling dessert with portions that could feed more than one person. A coffee or tea would have been nice to offset the sweet dessert. I’ll do that next time.
Affogatto with white chocolate gelato and espresso with a warm cherry and chocolate chunk cookie ($10). I was impressed that Paese offered this. The quality espresso made for a great dessert!
Paese has been around through the decades and there is a reason why; customers know that they consistently deliver delicious dishes with quality ingredients. Based on my experience, the highlights of my meal included the fig salad, whole fish, steak, as well as the grilled octopus and stuffed olives. I was way too stuffed to try the pastas, which is also one of Paese’s specialties.
Even though the restaurant was busy taking care of a large party the evening I went, the servers were attentive and made sure that we were well taken care of.
The downtowners may find the location far to get to, but it is worth the trek for excellent Italian food with great service and a relaxed atmosphere. With a large wine selection, Paese makes an excellent spot to celebrate an occasion. Also, with daily specials, customers can try new items often.
Now it is your turn to try Paese.
THE CONTEST IS CLOSED. THE WINNER OF THE CONTEST IS LIZ @staygorgeouslc (Twitter and Instagram). Congratulations!!
ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A DINNER FOR 2 AT PAESE!
- The winner will receive 2 meals which includes 1 appetizer for each person, 1 main for each person, 1 dessert for each person, and 1 drink for each person. Additional drinks and menu items will be an additional fee.
- The prize is not transferable.
- The contest will run September 19th to September 21st, 2016 11:59 PM EST
- Dinner is valid until December 31st, 2016.
- All winners must be willing to provide their full name and e-mail address.
- The contest is opened to Canadian residents only.
- I will also be running a contest on my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/themary_tang/. The contestants from the IG contest will be combined with entries from my blog. There will be only one winner.
- The winner will be chosen randomly using https://www.random.org/. Mary’s Happy Belly will conduct quality checks.
- I will contact the winner by direct message on Twitter, Instagram and/or Facebook.
- The winner will be notified before September 25th, 2016 and must respond before the end of the day. Failure to respond in a timely manner means that another prize winner will be chosen. The winner will eventually be announced on the blog
*Disclosure: The meal was complimentary but all opinions and views expressed in the post are my own.