For signori and donne in Italy, Ozzero is a municipality in the province of Milan in the Lombardy region. For Torontonians, it’s a new trattoria in North Toronto that serves up classic plates of Italian without pomp or fanfare.
It’s evident right from the get-go that they’ve taken a few shortcuts when it comes to the decor and atmosphere. Dollar store frames of black and white photographs of Italian-looking families and sceneries hang on walls. But other design choices give the experience a more sophisticated feel, as in new dark hardwood floors, burgundy linens over tables set with bundles of cutlery and bottles of vino lined up on shelves against the north yellow wall.
A page of daily specials rounds out the regular menu’s offerings.
A shrimp antipasto starts things off with a bang ($10). Four expertly grilled jumbo crustaceans (and I mean “jumbo”!) repose over a bed of fresh spinach, juicy, cold orange segments and sticks of crisp fennel.
The salad’s refreshing lime dressing is for tart-loving tarts.
Drizzles of pesto and crumbled feta cheese overpower the flavour of diced tomatoes in bruschetta over a decorative layer of baby spinach ($7), but the ingredients are fresh and the six baguette slices are expertly toasted to retain crispness.
Huge appetites rejoice in chicken parmigiano ($14). A Dolly Parton–sized poultry breast — baked in tomato sauce and topped with a duvet of mozzarella — strikes a pose over a saucy mountain of linguine tangled in light, homemade tomato sauce. The meat is juicy and tender, and the noodles al dente.
Linguine di mare ($16) makes a splash with plenty of seafood nibbles — scallops, calamari, mussels, and black tiger shrimp (not the same jumbo variety as in the appetizer, but well timed just the same). Chewy calamari rings, on the other hand, threaten to thwart the experience, and we wonder what happened to the promised “light olive oil and tomato sauce.”
Instead, this assembly is tossed in the same sauce as the linguini. A solo server works the room quietly and efficiently, and she wins us over with her smile.