gracecheung604 | write on time: Scarfing down at Scarpetta

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Scarfing down at Scarpetta

Located at the Thompson Hotel in Toronto, Scarpetta is the brainchild of renowned New York chef Scott Conant, but Chef Michael Hunter is the Chef de Cuisine now. The room is sleek, modern and loaded with semi-circular booths.

First to land on our table was the triple threat of olive oil, marinara and butter, with a sprinkle of salt. The tomato based sauce was a bit sour for my liking, but to be honest, their bread basket didn't need any accompaniments.

There was an assortment of warm sliced bread topped with one large slice of a soft multigrain. But don't just nibble at the basket. Go right down to the bottom for their Stromboli, or as our waiter called it, the meat and cheese bread.

This is a poorly lit picture of the sliced Stromboli, but you get the idea...meat and cheese baked right into the bread! So good, so soft and chewy, and a lovely way to start the meal.

Before we settled on a wine, we all ordered a cocktail to start. I stuck with my tried and true....Negroni, complete with a orange rind. 

My appetizer was the Beef Short Ribs,on a bed of farro risotto...the beef rib was super tender; the knife on the table was purely for looks. The risotto was more barley-like, but cooked slowly to just the right consistency, with a little bit of a chew left. 

Another appy we had was the Tuna Susci...essentially a tuna sashimi with marinated veggies cut into matchsticks inside. The tuna was a bright red and the crunch of the carrots is a perfect foil to the fresh fish. 

Well-known as one of the best dish he ever made, we had to try Scott Conant's Creamy Polenta with Truffled Mushrooms. Served in two dishes, one with polenta and a silver dish with the truffled mushrooms. The server then starts you off by spooning some of the mushrooms onto the polenta. Eat the mushroom topped part,and then add some more to the polenta. Repeat as needed until you are done. Then grab some bread and sop up all the remaining mushroomy goodness. 

Sorry for the blurry photo, but this is another signature dish, the Agnolotti Dal Plin with Braised Short Rib, Bone Marrow and horseradish. All smothered with a brown butter sauce. Since all the pastas are made in house, the first thing you notice is the delicateness of the pasta, and how plump each morsel is. 

We also got the Pappardelle with pork ragout, pine nuts and some wined braised prunes. It looks a lot spicier than it really is, in reality, the prunes adds a nice rich sweetness to the dish. Long flat noodles are cooked to a perfect al dente, and you can really taste the richness of the ragout.

The one non-pasta main course we got was the Mediterranean Branzino with mussels, kale and a side of salsa verde. The skin on this was amazingly crispy, really really crispy! The fish itself was moist and the filet hides a few mussels underneath. 

I really like Cavatelli which should have come with carpetto, broccoli rabe & goat cheese, but I didn't feel like goat cheese that night. Instead, I asked for the pork ragout sauce that comes with the pappardelle, and they were happy to indulge. This pasta is similar to shell pasta but s bit denser and more curled into itself more than your regular shells.

We finished off dinner with two desserts, the first to arrive was the Cheesecake with lemon curd and basil granita and black pepper streusel. Creamy, crumbly, and crunchy with a nice tart and tangy creamy curd.

The other dessert was on the other end of tart, we tried the Caramel Budino with a deep, dense mousse topped with fresh whipped cream. To the side, there are wafers made with salted caramel and peanuts. A rich way to end a very satisfying meal.

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