The Hip & Urban Girl's Guide was thrilled to get a sneak preview of Scarpetta Restaurant inside The Thompson Hotel. According to the owners, Scarpetta means 'little shoe' in Italian, referring to the shape of bread when used to 'soak up a dish'. The Thompson is the hot spot in Toronto right now, with an event practically taking place every night. The biggest could surely be The Virgin Atlantic Party hosted by Richard Branson on the Rooftop Pool last month.
The Lobby Bar
As we arrived for literally day three of Scarpetta being open, we were greeted at the entrance by another party being hosted on the rooftop that night for the Honda Indy. It is no surprise then, that the hottest most anticipated restaurant opening by the King West crowd and Toronto is Scarpetta by New York celebrity chef and Food Network darling, Scott Conant. So why the buzz? Scarpetta has received three stars from the New York Times and New York Magazine which are some serious accolades. Locations are currently being planned in Las Vegas with another that also exists in Miami inside The Fontainebleu.
Dining Room: Gorgeous Curved Booths
The dining room is full of light at the start of dinner time. With floor to ceiling windows on the main level of the hotel. As the night gets darker, LED mood lighting changes colour from red to blue along the windows as the lights are dimmed. Gorgeous curved booths are the first things you see in the middle of the restaurant. Banquettes and chairs on the left and tables along the window on the right. No one feels cramped, the space is very open. Exposed, over sized light bulbs continue the theme from the lobby bar showcasing all the dark wood. The room is gorgeous, modern and sleek. Design is by Studio Gaia of New York, who also designed the lobby of The Thompson.
We go a little crazy on the mouth-watering appetizers. Each one feels like it is a must-try. Our party of five went with The Braised Short Ribs of Beef ($14), The Heirloom Tomato Salad ($14), Crispy Fritto Misto ($17) and The Seared Diver Scallops ($16). The Short Ribs were a favourite as they were melt in your mouth and served over Faro & Vegetable Risotto. The scallops were gigantic, perfectly seared and cut into four pieces which made it easy to share. They were served with spring onion, truffle puree and pine nuts. The imported Burrata cheese on The Heirloom Tomato Salad was so fresh and creamy, best eaten within 48 hours! The cheese is imported fresh from Puglia, Italy and served with marinated eggplant. The Crispy Fritto Misto (Fried Calamari) are almost a shredded shoestring texture with a light batter. We would definitely order it again.
The Short Ribs (left) & Heirloom Tomato Salad (right)
The Fried Calamari
The Homemade Spaghetti
All the pastas are made in-house by hand including the Spaghetti ($21) with tomato and basil sauce. I opted for the Roasted Duck Breast ($32) with organic radishes and pickled mustard seed, my dining partners all went for The Slow-Roasted Sirloin of Beef ($40) with Porcini & Sweetbread Cannelloni & Barolo Reduction. Everyone was incredibly happy with their entrees, though maybe a bit hesitant to try the sweetbread at first. I hope to try more of the pasta on my next visit as The Duck & Foie Gras Ravioli ($23) in Marsala Reduction sounded pretty darn amazing.
After all that amazing food, there was still the issue of dessert. Taste buds were very happy with the Coconut Panna Cotta with Guava Soup and Caramelized Pineapple. Incredibly summery and tropical with a light creaminess that isn't too heavy after a decadent meal. Everyone else opted for The Chocolate and Vanilla Parfait with a Hazelnut Milkshake shot and Biscotti. Who can resist three desserts in one? The chocolate-lovers at our table were absolutely raving about how rich and delicious the parfait was.
Guava Panna Cotta with Roasted Pineapple
Chocolate Vanilla Parfait with Milkshake & Biscotti
Chef Scott Conant is incredibly down-to-earth and friendly. It is easy to see why they love him so much on television. Conant came by the table to greet everybody personally and made sure we enjoyed our dinner and explained it was only day three. Day three or not, the food at Scarpetta was really delicious and a welcome addition to Toronto. We highly recommend a visit and to start calling for a reservation now. Scarpetta opens officially on Tuesday.