Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Buca Restaurant, Toronto, New Impressions and Worth Revisiting.

I just returned from New York and Milan, having experienced some wonderful restos, many reflecting regional Italian inspirations. Now I am in Toronto, having enjoyed a truly wonderful meal at Buca. This restaurant keeps evolving, getting better and better. With the quality of dishes, ambitious and well executed menu of chef Rob Gentile, trust me ladies and gents, if I closed my eyes, I could have still be in Milan or NY. For me, this resto is one of the best in Canada, offering a wide selection rustic dishes executed in a sophisticated and knowledgeable way, respectful of the regional traditions that inspired these creations.

Spiced lamb heart tartar, flavoured with cinnamon and cloves, accompanied by shaved Ontario rhubarb and celery salad, quail egg and preserved elderberry. The tartar had a wonderful fresh clean taste and the flavour made vibrant by the clove and cinnamon spices and the remarkable complimentary flavours of the rhubarb and celery.

Crostino con trippa, grilled house made herb bread with braised tripe, guanciale and poached hen egg. A hearty, tasty dish, but the toast became a bit soggy and I might have preferred my toasts on the side.

Porchetta pizza topped with thin slices of roasted tuscan style porchetta, apple mostarda, bits of crackling, mascarpone cheese, agliata (garlic sauce) and crisp rosemary. This is a pizza that any food lover could dream about, easily the best tasting pizza I have enjoyed in toronto. Certainly the most satisfying, not only because of the range of wonderful rustic topping flavours but also, the tasty, thin crispy crust is so flavourful! I can't rave enough about this pizza experience.

Polpetta di buffala, water buffalo meatballs, cooked rare, with pickled green tomatoes, bufala sour cream and crisp rosemary, all on parmesan crisps. This was the only dish that was underwhelming. Good idea but the result had no “wow”. All of the ingredients were "correct" and the meat properly cooked. However, the meatballs were bland tasting and the pickled green tomatoes were so sour that the flavour overwhelmed the taste of the meatballs. Perhaps if I had tried this dish first, before I had experienced all of the other full flavoured dishes, my palate may have been more receptive.

Scialatielli, fresh hand cut pasta, zucchini soffrito, bottarga di muggine and spot prawns, another very genuine tasting hit. Perfectly underdone prawns redolent of the fresh briny taste of the sea, with the complementary sea flavours of the botarga. Once the dish is presented, the waiter tosses and mixes the ingredients. 

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