Toronto, ON M6G 1B2
In Italian, Il Covo means “the meeting point,” and that’s what this restaurant is. Unobtrusive from the exterior, the space unfurls into a warm room. Chef Ryan Campbell and biz partner Giuseppe Marchesini hopped over from Buca (where they were the first two employees!) with plenty of Italian culinary knowledge. But rather than turn out fare from one region of the Boot, the team has chosen to cycle through them all over the course of the year. At the start of 2019, Il Covo honed in on the cuisine of the north; in May a central Italy exploration begins; come fall, the food will segue to the south and the islands. Although the regional devotion permeates all aspects of the food and drink, there is still a local lean to the menu. Diners may encounter an Ontario take on a savory pie native to Emilia-Romagna. The trad version matches spinach with egg and nutmeg, whereas the localized take swaps in braised wild stinging nettles and wild ramps. For sweet, a Bavarese dessert is a crisp Roman pastry stuffed with custard, vanilla whipped cream and provincial rhubarb. Now this is how you travel the Boot.
JUDGE DAVID LEE, PLANTA
“I love what Ryan is doing there. It’s only going to get better: some honest cooking, great flavours and ingredients!”