Toronto, ON M6J 1X7
Little Portugal stalwart Enoteca Sociale has been a west end go-to for housemade pastas, quality wines, and cosy vibes for a decade. Rather than resting on its laurels, however, the much-loved Italian restaurant underwent a revamp to celebrate its 10th year in business.
Fortunately for existing fans of the long-running restaurant, it’s not a massive overhaul. The interior has been gussied up with a few tweaks, but the ambiance is as charming as ever.
A new Chef’s Bar serves as the setting for tasting menus overlooking the now open kitchen. Plenty of old Enoteca Sociale standbys appear on the reimagined menu, along with new delicious dishes that are sure to become classics.
Led by Chef di Cucina Kyle Rindinella, Enoteca Sociale’s updated menu doesn’t stray too far from the original. There’s a renewed emphasis on traditional Roman dishes made with seasonal, southern Ontario-sourced ingredients.
In addition to the a la carte menu, the restaurant has added a four-course prix fixe menu with dishes that change daily based on whatever fresh ingredients are available.
The restaurant continues to make its bread and butter in-house. Orders come with a mix of red-fife sourdough and focaccia for dipping in olive oil or smearing with lardo.
The open kitchen gives diners a view of mortadella, which is also made onsite, being thinly sliced for serving.
The crispy arancini balls are stuffed with mozzarella di bufula and ‘nduja, which is cured at the restaurant.
Enoteca Sociale devotees will be happy to see a few familiar dishes on the menu, including the spaghetti cacio e pepe with Pecorino Romano cheese and black pepper.
The ricotta cavatelli is one of the new pasta additions to the menu, featuring Romanesco, rapini, anchovy, bread crumb and chili.
Mains include this tender pork chop al pizzaiolo with blistered tomatoes, garlic, basil, and oregano. Here it's served with rapini seasoned with lemon, chili, and a dusting of Pecorino Romano.
Paralleling its menu makeover, Enoteca Sociale has also expanded its collection of wines. Bottles are hand-selected by Rindinella, with a focus on Italian varietals that are not typically available in Toronto.
There are a handful of Ontario bottles, but the majority of the impressive selection is Italian.
Although wine is the core of the drinks programme, the restaurant also has a large selection of amari and aperatifs, some of which feature on a short list list of cocktails. There’s a smattering of local beers from brewers like Woodhouse and Henderson (plus the requisite Peroni).
Enoteca Sociale’s cozy, rustic interior evokes an intimate Roman trattoria. An exposed brick wall runs behind the length of the bar, complementing a reoccurring motif of fluted walnut panelling.
Dimly-lit vintage lights and Persian rugs add an inviting, homey element. A long banquette curves along the bar wall, and a four-seat Chef’s Bar fronts a small open kitchen.
The only area of Enoteca Sociale that remains unchanged is the private dining room on the lower level. The dining table is flanked by the restaurant’s huge selection of wines, and offers a view of the curing room where meats are prepared.
By Jessica Huras, Posted: Feb. 26