Strada 241 647.351.1200 www.strada241.com open daily lunch & dinner
Strada 241 is Michael and Guy Rubino’s latest venture. The space was converted from a grocery store to an airy 3600sq ft minimalist looking Italian resto, warmed by wood and exposed brick. It’s rare to find a restaurant that can encapsulate the bakery/casual dining dichotomy of Toronto’s restaurant scene better than Strada 241. The menu is simple and traditional. Wines are mainly Italian with my favorite being Primitivo ca ‘del doge, Puglia 2009, rich with black cherries, vanilla and a little spice. The cocktails are influenced the same way, my choice – the classic Negroni. Let’s see if the food tastes as good as the restaurant looks. Servers seem eager to please.
Buttery, lightly dusted calamari fritti arrive inventively speared by nails on a wooden board with a spicy arrabiata dip. Squash fritti (speared similarly) battered like tempura is already a favorite, able to stand alone even without the pesto-looking salsa verde. Bread in olives is just that: two slices of grilled bread sitting on a bowl of mixed olives
Fire roasted asparagus in sweet and sour zabaglione is interesting. The sauce is creamy with a savory finish but I still can’t decide if I’m in love with the dish. The asparagus is smoky and nicely charred, however, the pickled onions add nothing to the dish. Fettuccini con fungi with parsley, olio e limone need a bit of seasoning and a dash of love. Alessandro with tomato, Strada 241 meatballs, pepperoncini, and Parmigiano taste great but can’t compare to the competitive Toronto pizza market.
I found the pizzas and the pastas to be average. However the rest of the menu is excellent – especially the desserts – which are headed up by Robert Gonsalves who appeared on Iron chef with the Rubino brothers.
A chocolate and hazelnut semifreddo finds its way to our table as a surprise and man is it good. Salty meets icy cold sweetness in a rich out-of-this-world one of the best in the city desserts. Hazelnut ice cream, salted chocolate brownie topped with a crumbly meringue truly tastes like a dream.