Sunday, August 5, 2012

Tasting menu at Enoteca Sociale in Toronto

A large group of us went to an interesting restaurant that's been the "food buzz" of late in Toronto, Enoteca Sociale. It's garnered a pretty good reputation for Southern Italian cuisine and I was looking forward to celebrating our friend's birthday here.

2006 Taurasi: dry and not fruity, can't remember much about this wine before I got too dizzy!

We opted for the tasting menu and got a private room in the wine cellar for our large party. Firstly, the service was very good: our waiter was attentive and straightforward, coming by to make sure we always had jugs of water and to explain any of the dishes in detail but leaving us alone long enough to enjoy our birthday celebration. In addition, upon request, they will make a vegetarian version of some of the dishes. 

We started off with some soft focaccia and olive oil and a few appetizers:
Arancini con mozzarella bufala & 'nduja
Dandelion and Chicory salad
Summer squash and fried zucchini blossom salad

Dandelion salad
Well, who doesn't enjoy a nice arancini, or breaded fried rice ball? They were really yummy with a nice creamy mozzarella coating each rice grain. But I liked the Dandelion and chicory salad the most out of the 3 appetizers because it had a peppery bitter taste and was lighter fare. The Summer squash was good as well and unfortunately I didn't get a chance to taste the zucchini blossom before they were all gone!


Next up:
Smoked sweetbread, sweet pea and arugula salad
Mussels with crostini

The mussel sauce was probably my favourite out of everything in the meal. I used the soft foccacia to dip and absorb the juices, I could have probably taken down the entire mussel platter by myself. The juices were smoky and sweet, combined with the bread it was just so heavenly. The sweet pea and arugula salad was good and I've read reviews that the smoked sweetbreads was a great dish, but I would still have to go for the mussels.


Sausages and steak
For the mains:
Spicy barese sausages, grass-fed striploin steak, garlic scapes, shishito peppers
Whole roasted sea bream

Because I've abstained from eating meats, my opinions about the meal are rather one-sided. But the boyfriend said that the steak was very tender and the sausages were tasty, the spices were reminiscent of Cantonese style red sausage. I thought the addition of the Shishito peppers were strange, but the flavour matches with the garlic scape, mushrooms, and fingerling potatoes. The whole sea bream was tender, and I enjoyed eating the head more than the body actually. There's a lot more crooks and nannies for the meat and flavour to hide in the head, and biting into the cheek is just too satisfying.

Next came a sampling of pastas:
Spaghetti con cacio e pepe
Rigatoni, pork, tomatoes
Gnocchi, 'nduja, stracciatella and basil
Complementary dish of Bucatini all'amatriciana - courtesy of our waiter who overheard one of our friends mention we should have ordered this to try!

I only sampled the Spaghetti and the vegetarian version of the gnocchi and my preference would have to go to the spaghetti. They used a good quality pecorino (according to my tastebuds..... but I'm not sure!) and just enough pepper. It's like the perfect comfort food - anybody can make it at home! The gnocchi was fluffy and had a nice flavour but was a bit too soft, it didn't have the slight resistance I like when biting down.

The Rigatoni and Bucatini looked amazing, the smells were wafting over our previous dishes all smoky and tomatoey so you can just imagine what they tasted like. 

For the birthday dessert: A sticky toffee pudding in a cast iron bowl thing. It was very large and our group of 10 couldn't even finish it, especially after going through the huge tasting menu. Their homemade vanilla ice cream was delicious, and when melted over the hot, sweet pudding, it was a diabetic's dream. All in all, it was a great ending for a scrumptious meal, a highly recommended restaurant for those visiting downtown Toronto :) (Note: Make sure you book a table in advance)

An artistic birthday gift by Vanessa Lung, for John - the triathlete who loves his bacon


  1. This place looks like fun! I'll have to make a point of going there to check it out. Thanks for the review!

  2. It's definitely worth going if you enjoy Italian - they do traditional as well as variations on the traditional. The new exec-chef is Grant van Gameren who used to work at Black Hoof, but the dishes are very very different from the Hoof!

    Here's their website:

  3. The food looks great! And I'm getting hungry for pasta for dinner tonight! :D