If you’d been texting with a friend or fretting about pending disasters just before stepping through the doors at 1 Balmoral Ave., you might not have realized that Terroni was gone and that Divino, a new Italian trattoria, had set up shop in its place. (Big shoes to fill. Big shoes.)
Updates made to the décor, if any, are indiscernible.
The menu, like the space, seems familiar, but a closer look reveals that Divino takes on northern Italian cuisine as well as southern classics, with a few modern twists and (sigh) trendy ingredients, and boasts a bigger selection. Most dishes impress, with quibbles lurking here and there.
Appetizers range from carpaccio to mussels to cured meats and world cheeses. A balsamic reduction zigzags across excellent grilled calamari ($11.95), hanging out all casual-like over a bed of spiced tomato salsa with capers, diced onion and whole Gaeta olives. A well-composed, flavourful dish. Freshness is paramount in a salad of paper-thin Bartlett pear slices, incredible toasted walnuts, and ricotta salata over a hillock of nutty arugula ($10.95).
From a list of 15 pizzas ($13.95–$18.95) comes baked woodland mushroom pie, with a judicious clumping of asiago, ample mozz, truffle paste and a few too many braised leeks. The crust balances chew and crunch, but the sum of the toppings is not greater than its parts, and I pass on the doggy bag.
Pastas also feature prominently on the menu, with 14 to choose from. Tender but plain beef tenderloin bites are the only disappointment in a dish of wide al dente pappardelle noodles, shiitake mushroom slices, popping peas, just-steamed rapini, garlic and shaved grana padano ($17.95) in herbed olive oil. I never use this word, but “yum”!
A surprisingly long selection of alcoholic drinks (martinis, cocktails, beers, wines, champagne, liquors) tempts lunchtime lingerers to take the afternoon off, and dinner diners to make a night of it, with an Italian-leaning international list that includes plenty of options by the glass as well as some interesting beers on tap and in bottle.
Divino, 1 Balmoral Ave., 416-515-0003