Friday, March 16, 2012

Carisma Restaurant, Toronto

Carisma is the restaurant that Mike and Margie Pagliaro opened downtown after they sold their highly successful restaurant on Eglinton Avenue. They have fortunately kept some of their very good service staff and chefs. Here, you will experience a very traditional approach to Italian regional cuisine that employs the best ingredients prepared in a refined way. The pasta itself (without the sauce) is exceptionally good. I particularly liked the tagliolini which they will prepare for you in any way you choose, if the way you like is not on the menu.

Carpaccio, paper thin slices of marinated beef tenderloin accompanied by arugula, shaved parmesan, olive oil and lemon. A traditional and wonderful combination of flavours. I know it is typical to present the beef very thinly sliced. My textural preference is for the beef to be about 3 times thicker.

Tagliolini with duck confit (on the right), wild mushroom and white truffle oil. A very good dish made magic by the strong duck flavour and the pasta, which at Carisma, is perfectly cooked and has a delicate and wonderfully "springy" texture.

Papardelli with wild boar ragu (on the left). I loved the sauce so much I requested a bit of extra sauce, as you can see. Italians traditionally have much less sauce on their pasta. For them, it's not about the sauce, it's really about the pasta.

Warm apple crumble with spiced applejack sauce accompanied by honey and sour cream gelato. I couldn't get the photo before my dinner guest jumped in to taste. It smelled so good! The pastry was perfect, with a nice flakey texture, caramelized at the edges and a lovely rich flavour that was a perfect complement for the slightly tart apple.

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