Thursday, January 22, 2015


Pastizza (Twitter: @PastizzaTO, Facebook: Pastizza) is a stunningly beautiful restaurant. The 5,000 square foot two-story Italian eatery at the corner of Market Street and The Esplanade in downtown is home to a magnificent 30 foot tall custom wine chandelier, a massive open kitchen, and a 100-seat patio in the summer. What's even more attractive (to me at least) is its location; Pastizza is conveniently located across the street from one of the world’s greatest markets, the St. Lawrence Market. With over 120 vendors, the St. Lawrence Market is my favourite place to shop for fresh fruits, meat and seafood. It is an awesome place to grab a quick bite (i.e. the world famous Peameal Bacon Sandwich from Carousel Bakery) but if you're looking for a nice, relaxing sit-down place for lunch or dinner, the Market is not the place. What you need to do is head over to Pastizza which is literally just a few steps away.

Co-owners Paolo Paolini (founder of Splendido and Mistura) and Thomas Baker (proprietor of Thomas George Estate winery) opened Pastizza in August of last year. Their vision for the restaurant involves serving Italian comfort food with a strong focus on using local ingredients.

Look at this space. It's gorgeous, ain't it? I'm not feeling those large TV screens though. They can go.

This majestic and elegant wine chandelier is not just for looks; the tower can hold up to 600 bottles.

Exclusive, one-of-a-kind Pastizza branded bottles from Thomas George Estate in Sonoma, California

I stood looking at the pizza chef tossing and stretching the pizza dough effortlessly in the open kitchen for a few minutes. It's so mesmerizing...

The beverage program at Pastizza was created by one of Toronto's top mixologist, Adrian Stein (@adrienstein69), so I knew I was in good hands with drinks. All 10 cocktails on the list looked delicious but since the car doesn't drive itself, I chose two only. The cocktail list here is unique in that they all feature an exclusive Pastizza wine.

ITALIA '76 ($11)
Jim Bean Devil's Cut bourbon, lemon, Pastizza Brut, cardamom and a house cherry ($11)
Dark Horse Rye, Pastizza Tempranillo syrup, Amaro, Ango and orange

Sodas are made in-house. This one is orange ($4).

Every table has three different oils with varying degrees of heat.

Prosciutto, arugula, extra virgin olive oil, vin cotto and parmesan

The bomba is a Pastizza creation, a play on the traditional flatbread. Its colossal size is certainly a "wow" factor but don't worry, it is not solid. Filled with air, the bomba "deflates" once you cut into it. A fun appetizer to share for the table.

UOVO ($19)
Pancetta, chopped onions, mushrooms, semi-soft eggs, Mateo's red pepper & pumpkinseed sauce and old cheddar.

The crust was crisp and light yet it still stands up to the weight of the ingredients without being soggy or soft (those perforated pizza pans are definitely doing its job). The nuttiness of the pumpkin seed sauce was different but I thought it went well with the savoury pancetta and mushrooms. The one thing I did not like was the eggs - I fully expected the yolk to be runny but these were clearly overdone. When I told my server about this she informed me that the kitchen cooked the eggs a bit longer after a few customers complained that they were too raw. That's disappointing because in my opinion, the point of having an egg on top of pizza is so that the yolk can seep into the pizza, adding another element of flavour. The yolk also serves as a wicked dipping sauce! I actually took away these eggs because they didn't serve any purpose to me.

Spaghetti, cracked black pepper, pancetta, onion, white wine, egg and parmesan
The consistency of the carbonara was good as it was creamy and rich without being clumpy or overly thick. The flavour was excellent with just the right amount of peppery-ness. I thought the peppercorns on the inner edge of the plate was unnecessary. 

Lasagna with beef, veal and pork meat sauce, mozzarella and parmesan
Although it may not look like it there are 12 layers in this lasagna. Substantial and rich, I loved the depth of flavours in the sauce.

Braised beef cheek, mixed mushroom, roasting jus, smoked gouda potato lasagna and swiss chard.
These soft and tender guanciale cuts had such seductive pork flavour especially when slathered in that roasting jus. With layers of fatty goodness, these cheeks are not for those looking for a light entree. Make sure you save room for the potato lasagna; it's carbs that you will not regret eating. SO good. The swiss chard was much needed to cut all the richness on the plate.

Ricotta gelato, salted toasted pistachio, cherry coulis with chocolate chunks and crushed cannoli shells
Every component had a purpose and they all contributed to the reason why I love this dessert. The cold and creamy ricotta gelato is already great on it's own but adding the slightly sour cherry coulis with bits of sweet chocolate chunks, and toasted pistachio and cannoli shells for extra crunch takes this dessert from good to fantastic. A winning combination of textures and flavours here. 

Caramel / amaretto sticky toffee pudding, almond slivers and vanilla gelato
A warm decadent sticky toffee pudding served with vanilla gelato, almond slivers for crunch, and a sweet boozy syrup. Nope. No complaints here.

*This meal was complimentary. The opinions and views expressed on this post are my own*

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