What? Enoteca Sociale
Where? 1288 Dundas st W (63 Ossington bus from Ossington station)
Price? $15-$30 (mains $10-$16)
The skinny: From the owners of Pizzeria Libretto come Enoteca Sociale, an Italian wine bar so well stocked it puts most restaurants to shame. On top of the rustic décor, chill atmosphere and (über) noteworthy pasta, they’ve got their own cheese cave in the basement!
A few of my friends and I hadn’t all gathered in months so it was definitely about time. :D We brainstormed and in the end, made reservations at EnotecaSociale. I’ve read some great things about this restaurant so I was really excited for the meal.
There were 5 of us so we got the table at the back of the restaurant…right beside the kitchen. I was so tempted to peek several times but there was much catching up to do. Clearly. haha Yay for friends who don’t take themselves too seriously! :D
The reason why I put that photo up is not to embarrass Mike (far left) (@MichaelBonares), although he looks rather dashing here I must say; but instead it’s to show the restaurant. There’s just something about a hefty wood table that screams “you’re about to love your meal!!” (other meal at a long wooden communal table Chez Robert & Louise). The blue & white checkered napkins help too.
Oh yes, and the wines. They’re working towards having “80 wines under $80.” They may be there, I don’t know but that’s damn impressive. There are suggested pairings for every dish on the menu (yes, they’ve got a sommelier) and a great thing is that the wine comes in 2 oz or the regular 5 oz.! Good news for me…I look like a tomato after a few sips of wine.
|So i might've caught him at a bad moment. eek. The entire staff is very welcoming don't worry!|
As we debated what to order, a server came over with bread and olive oil. Mmm the bread was chewy and fresh.
A couple of us (me included) were pretty hungry so we started nibbling on the bread. Nice.
And then our apps came. (oh yeah, I was mucho excited).
Grilled octopus, rapini, new potato, chilies & roasted pepper tuffo (16)
Cannot rave enough about this dish! Every element was prepared perfectly. The octopus was absolutely the star of the dish. On the outside, it’s charred but when you bite into it, not at all chewy. Instead it’s smokey and meaty, a mini symphony of flavours. I’m not lying when I say this is the best octopus I’ve ever had. Yeah, the experience at Sik Gaek was great, but the baby octopi have nothing on this.
roasted ontario beet salad, baby burrata, pistachio, mint, shaved radish & malt vinaigrette (13)
The Enoteca Sociale menu features dishes that fit most people’s preferences. Vegetarians, seafood lovers, and meat lovers can all be satisfied here. This (vegetarian) salad was refreshing and had great texture.
You’ve got the crunch from the pistachio & radish coupled with pleasing mouthfuls of roasted beet. And then there’s the creamy fresh mozzarella. Oh yes. Gahh yummy. :D
Raymond’s wine comes. It looks like such a baby amount! We busted his chops for that. Such a manly man getting 2 oz! haha Phoenix and Josh but got the wine paired with their mains as well. Water is served in bottles, as you’ll find in Europe. Fun.
ontario lake trout, fresh caponata, chili & lemon (16)
Phoenix ordered this. Normally, I don’t order fish when I eat out just because I’m always scared that it’ll turn out dry and bland. This looks pretty moist and Phoenix enjoyed it so I guess crisis averted? It’s always ideal to get what you want.
house made trecce, pork sausage, charred broccoli & tomato peperonata (16)
The pasta looks creamy and rather perfect in the sense that it’s not a messy clump and you can easily fork each spiral of trecce individually. As for how it tasted, I have no clue. Josh had nothing much to say about it…although I know he was a bit miffed by the portion. (let’s just say he’s a man, and he eats like one? Oh im digging myself a hole right now aren’t I?)
spezzatino (pork & oyster mushroom on polenta with fried sage leaves ???) (18)
I have no clue what this dish is called! :( I completely forgot to take a note of it and it’s not on the menu on the Enoteca Sociale’s website. Oops. It seems like this dish was a bit of a miss anyways. Mike is a pork lover yet he couldn’t finish this. I had a few bites, the oyster mushrooms were juicy and meaty but the pork was on the dry side and frankly, a little bland.
house made pappardelle, braised ontario lamb ragu, house smoked guanciale & don panchego (17)
This was pretty bang on as far as house made noodles go. The pappardelle was perfect. Ribbons of smooth, slippery pasta that hold up to being prodded with the fork but separate from one another in the same touch. It was so good!
On top of that, lamb?! House smoked guanciale (Italian bacon; oh yeah, they added the killer ingredient that is bacon) and CHEESE?! (aka don panchego). Winning! (<-- I don’t even care that no one uses that expression anymore haha). True, it wasn’t a big honking plate like what you’d get at other restaurants, but for what you receive on your plate, the time and skill put into it, it’s so reasonably priced!
Alrighty, so after all that eating we chatted, digested and chatted some more. The service was impeccable. Servers would regularly come around to refill our water and ask how our meal is so far. Very attentive and warm. :D Ok, time for some cheese! We went with one of the Italian cheeses.
Crotonese (7 for one cheese)
Although we had ordered Moliterno (a raw sheep’s milk cheese with black truffle paste), I’m pretty sure we actually received Crotonese. To be honest, none of us our cheese connoisseurs so it didn’t affect the overall experience. We were simply curious and thought why not?! :D On the board were slices of toast, slices of Granny Smith, the cheese, and a candied pecan.
|Beautiful presentation! Clean and precise.|
Deathly allergic to pecans, one of the guys graciously removed it before there was any cross-contamination then the subsequent stabbing of an epipen and an unpleasant trip to the hospital…hey, food allergies are serious! (if you have any, always tell the maître d’ or inform the restaurant when making reservations. There is no reason why they can’t accommodate you for such a legit reason). :)
So back to the Moliterno turned Crotonese situation. The former should have some sort of blackness in the truffle so with it absent, I figured we were served the one listed above.
Crotonese: “pasteurized sheep’s milk, calabria, aged three years, salty bite.” We definitely noted the saltiness of the cheese. It has a very pungent aftertaste. This is where the thin slices of apple come in. It cuts through the salt and richness to give the cheese an almost brighter note. Slices of toast make for a crunchy delivery system. I’m nowhere nearer to understanding cheeses but I’m glad we’ve tried something different!
It was a great dinner. Awesome company, lots of laughs. The vibe is relaxed, you feel like you’re in momma’s kitchen (lightbulb moment! that’s probably why the long wood table means good food to me… :D). If you’re asking, yes, this awesome postcard left with me. It’s a fitting souvenir for an evening well spent.
P.S. You'll want to make reservations if you want to come here. We came here on a Wednesday night and when we left around 9, there was a line in the foyer. A very classy one I might say. People were standing, waiting, nursing their glass of wine. :D
Verdict? The items on the menu are well-priced (on the cheaper end of things). You get seasonal ingredients presented in front of you, prepared in seemingly uncomplicated ways that make for a damn good party in your mouth. I’m definitely coming back! Yes yes yes (and huge thanks) to Chef Rocco Agostino for the awesome meal!
Check ‘em out! http://www.sociale.ca/
5 out of 5 NOMs