Friday, March 25, 2016

Piano Piano Restaurant, Toronto.

Piano, Piano is chef Victor Barry's labour of love resurrection of his previous resto, one of Canada's best, Splendido. And, the food and ambiance bear no similarities except that the exceptional comfort food of this new resto bears chef Barry's sophisticated charms on his new rustic renditions.

The resto has a large wood fired pizza oven and also wood fired grill. These cooking implements add a unique and very pleasing taste to the food prepared with them.

For example, take his recipe for what is essentially a dish of fried and roasted chicken for 2. Chef Barry brines the chicken, then smokes it before he prepares the legs as fried chicken and the breast as roast chicken! And the gravy, in any typical resto, a reduction, whereas chef Barry deglazes the roasting pan with wine and flavour concentrated chicken stock and then finishes the exceptional gravy with mustard, lemon juice and rosemary. Now, all you see is the bistro-simple fried and roasted pieces of chicken with gravy, but, what you experience is gustatory heaven! It all comes together and is presented in a big cast iron pan, buried in a tossed "salad" of kale, dandelion, pickled onion and olives. NOW THAT is comfort food for any palate sophisticated person, and for those who may not know or appreciate the great subtle complexities of Chef Barry's cooking, simply a great tasting dish.

And another aspect that sets apart this resto is the price for this sophistication: 9 bucks for "snacks"; 15 bucks for apps; 23 bucks for mains! Great value!!

So, the following courses were our experience.

House brined and smoked salmon of exceptional quality on wonderful fire-made toast, topped with chives, capers and crema fresca.

Terrific, tasty and crispy russet potato fries accompanied by perfect house-made malt vinegar flavoured mayo. 

Fabulous, marinated, very fresh sardines with crispy house made chips, banana peppers and chimichurri sauce. This is how sardines should taste and the texture was perfection. Nowhere in Canada, in my opinion, will you experience sardines this good.

Fabulous chopped salad, combining so many pleasing textures and tastes, with salami, olives, feta, brussel sprouts, oregano, crisp polenta, arugula and dandelion.

Shishito peppers with raisin agrodolce, a unique touch.

The excellent house made pastas are made both in house and at Pasta Fresca Baldassarre, by 2 former Splendido chefs.

Supernal agnolotti, maybe the best you will have in Toronto except perhaps at Buca Yorkville. This rendition is cacio e pepe with ricotta, black pepper and parmigiano.

Spaghetti vongole e cozza, with clams, mussels, pancetta, lemon, garlic, chili and parsley. This was wonderful pasta, perfectly cooked.

My version of "bitter" pizza, with no cheese, other than a dusting of fresh parmesan. A very good crust, crispy and tasty, with toppings of kale, dandelion, garlic, chili and lemon. 

The same pizza as above except with the addition of mozarella and fior di latte cheeses. 

The "true north" pizza, moazzarella, fior di latte, n'duja, cremini mushrooms, fried onions and banana peppers. Another wonderful pizza, my fave, but, I would have preferred it without the cheeses even though the taste was so good. 

The fabulous aforementioned chicken: "brick oven chicken for 2".

This  fabulous dessert was brought to the table under a glass dome, a return to Splendido dining, and the dome removed at table. 

Ginger carrot cake for 2 with pumpkin ice cream, rum raisins and spicy pecans.

Then, the above cake is splashed with creme fresca, et voila!

Goat cheese and mascarpone and cream cheese cake with a blood orange topping.

Book your reservations well in advance as with the word of mouth, this resto will become jammed.

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