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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Date Night at F'Amelia

We were long overdue! Overdue for a dinner out, for some quality time together, and for our little Valentine's celebration. So we booked ourselves a table at a place nearby that we'd been hearing lots of good things about- F'Amelia, in Cabbagetown. A brisk walk on a cool night stimulated the appetite, and when we walked in the door we were warmly welcomed by our hostess, and by the comforting perfume of woodsmoke.
The charming space has hosted many establishments over the years, but this is surely one of the best. F'Amelia is what any good neighborhood restaurant should be- a place that's unpretentious, feels comfortably local, yet serves up very high quality food.

We began by sharing the three salumi/ terrine platter from the Antipasti menu. A moist and meaty prosciutto was the star, but the terrine was no slouch, especially when paired with the pickles, and the spicy Italian chorizo was not only super- flavorful, but it let you know who was the boss on the platter! Two nice cheeses, both on the firm to hard side, were alongside; one from Niagara was similar to Parmesan, the other, an Italian, was a slightly softer Pecorino style. Unfortunately we weren't able to catch the names of either. A rich onion compote came in a tiny jar and a bowl contained cornichon pickles and a couple of wedges of golden pickled beets. Flat-bread and skinny bread sticks were probably not the most practical for transporting pickle-topped cured meats from platter to mouth, but fortunately we also still had on hand some of the bread served with olive oil just after we sat down.

As for the main courses, one of us opted for the Celeriac Ravioli with Duck and Root Vegetable Sofrito. It was a knock-out, very northern Italian, and perfect for a winter's night. The pasta was silky, and the celeriac centers were smooth and savoury. And the sofrito was rich and full of duck and dice of carrot and parsnip.
Our other main was ordered from their Pizza Menu. F'Amelia gives pride of place to its wood oven, visible from most of the restaurant, so you can see your pie being baked. Our Quattro Stagioni came with a near-perfect crust-- thin without being paper-like, but not so thick that it wasn't perfectly cooked all the way through. There was no sogginess or sagging. A nice round tomato sauce and creamy fior di latte mozzarella were common to the entire pizza, with the four stations comprised of prosciutto cotto, cured black olives, lightly marinated artichoke hearts, and plump woodsy sliced mushrooms.
We quaffed a house red, the "F'Amelia Red" Toscana Rosso, which was served in an attractive carafe. It was well suited for our meal, and also well priced.

We also shared a dessert, the Brulee Lemon Tart with Rhubarb Compote. As suggested by the name, on top was a layer of caramelized sugar. The lemon filling was suitably tart, and the well sweetened rhubarb provided a nice contrasting flavour kick.

Finally, the true test of a good Italian restaurant for us is in how well they prepare their coffee. We each ordered an espresso machiato, and the house delivered once again. The brew was rich and smooth, all dark flavours without any burnt bean, or worse, acidity. We were happy campers!

A cinque stelle evening. We shall return (most probably on a nice summer's evening so we can enjoy the terrace!)
lower photo courtesy Cabbagetwonnews.blogspot.com

F'Amelia Ristorante
12 Amelia Street  Toronto, ON M4X 1E1
(416) 323- 0666

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