Porzia Parkdale is a restaurant I’ve heard about and have been following on social media for a while but I hadn’t had a chance to check it out. I don’t considering myself a foodie at all – I don’t know the layers of complex tastes and I won’t pretend to understand the art of what pairs with what – I just know what I think tastes good and I definitely love to eat!
I used to consider myself a pretty diverse eater – especially compared to many friends I’ve had growing up and also my husband. As I meet more and more new people and make new friends, I realize there is a WHOLE other world out there for me to explore and this gets me really excited!
A few weeks ago I went with Solmaz of The Curious Creature to have the Porzia Parkdale experience. Typically, when I think of Italian restaurants pizza and pasta comes to mind as well as a traditional atmosphere.
As soon as I entered I knew Porzia was different. The place is modern but cozy with traditional church type benches lining the walls and retro style chairs on the other side of the tables. We were treated to a tasting menu of some of Chef Basilio Pesce favourite dishes of the moment.
When we arrived we were served with an appetizer of Warm Olives and Almonds. I used to HATE olives but over the years my tastes have changed and I really enjoy them now. But THESE olives were unlike anything I had tried before. They were so meaty and flavourful and not too salty! We insisted on these being left at the table so we could munch on them throughout the evening.
I was in for a treat with these Gaspe Nordic Prawn served with a Lemon Aioli. I’m usually averse to any dish served to me with visible eyes but I really wanted to try these out as they are only available 2x a year and come from the St. Lawrence River. I’m glad I braved it because I REALLY enjoyed these. They were very fresh and flavourful – a perfect way to start out the meal!
I think this was my favourite dish of the night. Cotechino is an Italian sausage and our dish was served with fingerling potatoes. A lot of times sausage can be very salty, and it can sometimes be very dry or crumbly. This dish very moist and was not overly salty – in fact there were capers in the dish which intuitively I think wouldn’t work (but really, I’m no chef, so what do I know) but I loved everything about this!
I’m not a huge raw fish eater – yet anyway! It took me quite a while to get used to the taste and texture of sushi and even today I can only handle salmon rolls and sometimes tuna. I was worried I wouldn’t take to this Albacore Tuna but I was surprised that the taste wasn’t too “fishy” and the texture wasn’t mushy or rubbery. This was just the right size dish for me to share with someone. The farinata it was served with had a nice crunch and the plate looked beautiful garnished with mint leaves and foraged onion flowers – all edible of course!
This was another interesting dish! The Chicken Liver Agnolotti is pasta stuffed with a chicken liver filling and topped with honey mushroom and balsamic. It has a very interesting texture for me – unlike anything I’ve had before. I think maybe the best way I can describe is as a slightly grittier paté. The different flavours in the dish were really, really great together. Although the plate looks small, the filled pasta is filling and rich but the simple additions to the dish seemed to make it light but still satisfying. Even if you’re not a fan of liver I think you should give this one a try as it didn’t taste like I imagined it would.
This was my second time trying octopus. In fact the first time I tried it was also at Porzia for an event so it was tiny and appetizer sized. The Octopus with Semolina, Peanut & Apple was again a very unique combination for me. I’m not positive if I’m a fan of octopus yet. I’m not a fan of grilled calamari and the texture for me was similar. I did really like eating the chewy octopus with the creamy semolina and the crunchy apple slaw all together though – such a great combination of different textures!
Last but not least was the Rhubarb Ricotta Cheesecake. Did you know that I’m not a fan of cheesecake? I know, I know – GASP! But I just find it TOO dense and heavy for me. THIS cheesecake however is made with homemade ricotta cheese (which Chef kindly shared with us how to make!) and it’s so light and creamy. Definitely not the traditional cheesecake you may be used to but in my opinion this one is SO much better.
Huge thank you again to Porzia and Chef Basilio Pesce for taking the time to host us. I could REALLY tell he loves what he does and puts so much love and passion into every dish he creates. The restaurant is run with love too. Named after his own mother, the staff is also just like family, even sitting down each evening before opening to have a meal together.
I’m looking forward to my next visit!
Porzia is located at 1314 Queen St. West, Toronto.