The Gist: A large team that has worked together before comes together to create a cantina-inspired Italian kitchen and wine bar in a luxe, yet comfortable and cozy setting.
With a seafood focused menu, pizza bar, homemade salumeria, and Italian vineria, the options for wining and dining are endless.
The experience starts when you enter the restaurant, not when you’re seated at the table. At Ovest, the emphasis is on hospitality. “You are coming into our home, we want you to feel welcome,” says GM Marco Celio.
Grub: Simply saying French, Italian, pizza and seafood just doesn’t cover it. Old-style Italian done in modern way is closer. The “new Italian” niche here is French techniques paired with the Parisian influence of sous vide and Italian ingredients.
The menu changes often, but includes compelling crudos, house smoked swordfish and Housemade bresola, cheese from Quebec, Ocean Wise fish, made-from-scratch pizzas and pastas, and captivating products from Italy such as Tuna Bottarga (salted and cured fish roe), Pomodini cherry tomatoes, and marinated anchovies from Corsica.
And whatever you do, don't skip dessert - Chef's signature cannoli is one of the best. Ever.
Libations: Everywhere you look is wine. An impressive wine list offers lots of reds and good handful of whites by the glass, and thanks to the enomatic machine, you can try vintages and varietals that you might not otherwise be able to afford.
Sommolier Giammarco Di Loreto can guide you for what you’re looking for. After all, with 120 labels and wine, there’s a wine for everyone and their budgets. What makes this wine collection stand out is all 120 are Italian, giving you the unique opportunity to compare varietals from Puglia to Calabria, Sardegna to Tuscany.
Cocktails run the gamut of old classics and new discoveries – bold and full-bodied to bright and sparkly such as the Ibisco, comprised of hibiscus, gin, Aperol, lime and sparkling wine.
‘Hood: King & Niagara
Deets: The open concept is so inviting, and the lower level gives the feel of being in an upscale wine cellar, resulting in a casual, yet elegant ambiance,
With 120 seats including the bar, it is suitable for any occasion – on your own, with a date, family, or on business.
With the salumeria and wine bar being connected, you can sit and enjoy cured meats and cheeses with wine pairings or cocktails without having to do a whole dinner at a table. And since it’s open late, it works with your schedule - go for a quick glass of wine after work or linger over dinner and drinks.
Fixtures & Fittings: The former furniture store has been completely transformed with golden-flecked granite and sleek tables that keep the room’s almost 5,000 square feet airy.
Outfitted with a large communal table and wine racks from floor to ceiling, the result is warm and cozy, yet completely uncluttered.
Off the Menu: Carpaccio di Pesce Spada features house smoked swordfish carpaccio that is cured for three days in a mixture of salt and sugar, and served with a whole anchovy, fennel and orange. The result is soft, aromatic flesh that gives way as soon as it meets your fork.
Caprese di Tonno showcases two phenomenal ingredients - buffalo mozzarella with tuna tartar – simply and with reverence. It needn’t anything else (as an accompaniment only, perhaps a glass of something Giammarco recommends).
The star of the Seppia alla Griglia dish is cuttlefish, which you won’t find it on many menus in Toronto, so it’s an experience not to be missed. Chef grills it to perfection, so that the meat stays buoyant and tender, and serves it with a bright pea puree and dynamic red onion.
Linguine con Bottarga - a luxurious blend of linguine, pistachio pesto and tuna bottarga - is a modern, playful take on the usual pasta/pesto offering. Nutty with an unexpected depth and jauntiness, it might just be the only kind of pasta with pesto you have from now on.
Nodino di Coniglio illustrates just how simple yet decadent rabbit can be. Here, rabbit loin is stuffed with porcini mushroom and speck, with rabbit front leg on the side, served on cauliflower puree with brussel sprouts and rabbit jus. Sophisticated, rich and woodsy without even hinting at being heavy and cloying, the elegance of this involved dish speaks to the fine craftsmanship and dedication to ingredients in the kitchen.
How Cool is This?! The bathroom’s deep, rustic wooden sinks make you feel like you’ve just visited the old country, if for just a moment. So if you get the urge to start washing tomatoes or scrubbing a shirt, you’ll know why.
At the Stove: Luca Stracquadanio (former executive chef of Terroni LA and Toronto’s La Bettola di Terroni)
FOH: GM Marco Celio, who used to be GM for Buca and Buonanotte
Visiting Hours: Mon - Sat: 11:00am - 1:00am
Map It: 788 King St. W. (at Niagara)
Phone It In: (416) 214-6161
Check out our Facebook page for all the photos.