PAESE RISTORANTE

Paese Ristorante

Driving down Bathurst through residential neighbourhoods, the last thing I expected was an Italian restaurant tucked away in between apartment buildings. To me, Paese Ristorante was the definition of a neighbourhood gem. I had visited their downtown location previously during Summerlicious and was sad to hear about it closing. I was invited to check out Paese’ original North York location and had the chance to enjoy a delightful, homestyle Italian meal.

Disclaimer: All food and drinks reviewed below were provided complimentary. All opinions expressed below are wholly mine.

Atmosphere: Paese Ristorante was located in a nondescript building on Bathurst in North York. The restaurant interior was modern with warm lighting, pendant lights and light wood tabletops. When we arrived at 6pm, many of the tables were filled with families with young children enjoying dinner. As the night went on, the crowd changed to be slightly older with more couples or groups and conversation hummed.

Service: Our server was lovely. There was a bit of a mixup with our reservation and she went above and beyond to move The Hubby and I to a table with lots of natural light. She was very knowledgeable about the menu and when I asked her for recommendations, she seemed to truly enjoy talking about the dishes, something that always warms me to a restaurant. We were well taken care of throughout our meal and our server checked in on us regularly without hovering.

Food: To start, The Hubby and I ordered two appetizers, The Grilled Octopus and the special of the day, Prosciutto with Figs, arugula and Blue Cheese. The octopus had a good texture and on the thicker parts a nice char. The vinaigrette was light and added a hint of acidity to the dish. I did find the ends of the octopus a bit too grilled, which led to those bites being bitter.

I loved the appetizer special. Unfortunately, the dish was seasonal, using figs grown in the restaurant’s garden and we ordered one of the last plates. The figs were phenomenal, sweet and super flavourful. Paired with the savoure proscuitto, nutty arugula and strong blue cheese, each bite was amazing.

For our mains, we stuck to traditional entrees of pizza and pasta, a Salumi Pizza and Spaghetti with Meatballs. Between the two, I prefered the spaghetti. The saucey plate of pasta was served with two delicious, soft packed meatballs made of house ground beef short rib, sirloin, and brisket. They were very tender and and well seasoned. The pasta itself was cooked al dente and had a nice chewiness to it. With the pizza, the thin crust had a generous layer of cornmeal sprinkled on top keeping it crispy and crunchy, but was also the main flavour. I did like the trio of hot sauces that were served alongside, which randged from spicy, to taste bud searing.

Many of the items on Paese’s dessert menu attracted my attention, but we had limited space left and decided to split one order of Cioccolato. Good thing we did, because the portion was huge, layers of rich chocolate cake and white chocolate mousse in a sea of nutella and topped with a hazelnut brittle. All of my favourite things on a single plate.

Overall, dinner at Paese Ristorante was lovely. With their cozy atmosphere, great wine selection, warm service and good food, Paese would make a wonderful date spot, or family dinner out

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