Maialino translates from Italian to English as 'little pig' and by the time we rolled out of this little Southern Italian wine bar - it was mission accomplished. We couldn't help but eat, relax and share a couple glasses of wine with old friends in this warm restaurant with a farmhouse feel. It's exactly the sort of place I could spend hours in, especially when the food is so incredibly comforting.
A selection of meats, cheese and olives to get us warmed up
Parmigiana in Vetro ($8) tasted like a lasagna in a jar! Aged parmigiano mousse is layered with roasted eggplant puree, tomato sauce and served with crostini. It was a discovery dish which got you digging deeper for a taste of all the diverse flavours that just sing in harmony together when finally devoured. Beautiful presentation too.
I've never met an Arancini ($8, ball only) ball that I haven't liked. It's one of my favourite Italian appetizers and I was waiting in anticipation for this one. The rice cone did not disappoint as I cut it open, steam poured out with aroma from the chicken and veal ragu. Inside, the arancini was dotted with green peas and fresh scamorza cheese that was melted and stringy. Alongside was Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella and Roasted Figs & Aged Parma.
Chef Roberto Marotta stops in to chat with us and to talk about what went into the creation of each dish. Growing up near Sicily, Marotta only recently made the move to Canada in 2010 and brings along a little slice of Southern Italy to the foot of Roncesvalles.
Ravioli alla Norma ($17) was a treat for the pasta-lover in me. Homemade eggplant ravioli in a fresh cherry tomato sauce and aged baked Italian ricotta that Roberto's family sends him from Italy. I could eat this all day. The eggplant filling keeps things light and the tomato sauce doesn't overpower the dish.
Costole di Manzo al Nero D'Avolo ($26) consisted of slow-roasted short ribs, a red wine sauce (the Nero) with roasted shallots and potatoes. My cut of meat was fatty, which is part of the fun and quite tender with lots of flavour. My only regret was that I couldn't eat more of it because I was so full.
Flan di Cioccolato ($7) reminded me of a warm molten chocolate cake. Maialino's version is made with 70% cocoa and served with a salted caramel mousse and a peporoncino sauce on the side. I surprisingly enjoyed the spice mixed with the chocolate. It's strange at first, but I kept going back to it. A rich finish to a decadent meal.
The warm and casual atmosphere
Enoteca Maialino Italiana, Toronto
Find out more online @ www.maialinoto.com
1688 Queen Street West - (416) 551-5251