It used to be that if you wanted a night out and great Italian cuisine you had to head down to College Street’s Little Italy. Not so anymore. Since it opened four years ago on Bayview Avenue, Vero Trattoria has become a destination in Leaside for Italian dining.
Upscale in the Neighbourhood
Vero, owned by the folks who bring us Bar Italia on College Street, has received great response from neighbourhood locals, tells me resident Sommelier Erez Mizrahi. Locals appreciate having the upscale cool factor of College Street right around the corner from home. And as one of the only spots on Bayview open past 10 pm, it’s an obvious choice for drinks or dessert in the latter hours of the evening.
Moms in the area have been particularly taken with Vero. It’s upscale but unpretentious, with kind attention to families. Strollers are welcome and colouring is offered to the younger patrons. Vero wants to be in the neighbourhood for the long term. The baby in the stroller today will be coming in 20 years down the road and ordering from the wine list. Whether you are in jeans or a power suit, they want to make you feel as if “you’re home and we’re hosting the party,” says Mizrahi.
Italian Cuisine Inspired by Calabria
Keeping faithful to his mother’s roots in Calabria, Chef Pino Rubarto takes a market-fresh approach to Italian cuisine. The menu takes Italian dishes people are familiar with and elevates them. It’s comfort food taken up a level.
My family recently dined there with another family. It was nice to get out for great food in elegant surroundings and be able to share that with our children, who also appreciate good food. Everyone was more than pleased with their choices. The adults tried two of the specials: the cornmeal grouper served on rapini and butternut risotto and the New York Black Angus strip, with a Dijon, peppercorn sauce, garlic smashed potatoes and rapini; as well as the Vitello Picatta — pan seared veal scaloppine in a caper white wine sauce served with sautéed gnocchi, pancetta and seasonal vegetables. For the kids, there was the Ravioli Aperto, stuffed with spinach and ricotta cheese; and the Gnocchi Pizzaiolo in a home-style tomato basil sauce topped with ricotta cheese. Though it didn’t mention it on the menu, they were happy to serve both dishes as half portions. And for the pickier eater, there was a simple but delicious pepperoni pizza. If there was a scrap of food left, it was only because the pizza was too big for one child.
Somehow, there was just a speck of room for dessert. The kids devoured the Pizetta di Taleggio e crema di Cioccolata — a pizza topped with carmelized bosc pears, creamy taleggio and chocolate-hazelnut (though they asked for all the toppings on the side). The Torta di Cioccolata, a flourless chocolate cake, was so rich and creamy we all had to pitch in to help out the little patron who ordered it.
Vero hosts wine and food pairings, featuring a 10-course Italian meal and their outstanding wine selection, on the last Wednesday of the month through to April. Take out is available any day of the week.
Feature photo by Dine.TO.
1580 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, 416-322-8376