Restaurant Review: Local Kitchen and Wine Bar

Hey Guys,

I am back on this beautiful summer weekend to give you a restaurant review for a place called Local Kitchen and Wine Bar in the Parkdale district of Toronto. This restaurant boasts traditional Italian food with a local twist.  They try to buy their ingredients locally and use seasonal ingredients, thus accounting for their ever-changing menu. I was interested to try this restaurant to get some ideas on new recipes and to have a delicious Italian meal with family! There’s never a bad reason to try something new, right?

The interior of the restaurant is very rustic and comfortable with one tabletop that looks like its actually a door, a boar head mount and about 10 tables. The bathroom is also very unique, as while you use the toilet, you can watch an instructional video on the TV that shows you how to make pasta or plant a garden! Now that’s entertainment!

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There are two menus for this restaurant:

-The one-page menu with classic dishes that you can get all-year round including antipasti, some raw dishes including beef carpaccio and tuna, some veggie dishes, pastas and entrees.

-Their weekly menu on the wall varies according to the seasonal ingredients that they were able to acquire.

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We started with a bottle of wine:

Castello Romitoria Morellino Di Scansano DOCG 2012

This wine is a medium body wine from Tuscany with a good acidity and a subtle aftertaste of lavender and violets. There was also a good selection of local wines from the Niagara region in Ontario, Canada but the lavender hints in the wine sold us right away!

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APPETIZERS:

We started our meal by sharing a fresh pulled mozzarella (served warm) which is made fresh in the restaurant.  It was served with a radicchio salad with a light vinaigrette.  The creaminess of the mozzarella was perfectly paired with the acidity of the radicchio and the mozzarella was very stringy, stretchy and flavourful.

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We accompanied our cheese with a kale salad with crispy prosciutto, crisp tart pears from the Niagara region and parmigiano.  This salad tasted like an upscale version of a traditional ceasar salad; the kale was soft but not soggy and the parmagiano was plentiful.

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We enjoyed the appetizers with a chickpea stew with braised leeks and toasted almonds.  The dish tasted hearty, despite not having any meat and each bit was flavourful and very unique.

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ENTREES:

To Accompany our entrees we ordered the asparagus salad from the seasonal menu with fresh arugula, peperoncini peppers, ricotta salata cheese, raw asparagus and toasted almonds. The salad was very bitter but worked well with the mains that we had ordered.

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We asked for some bread with our meal and got a good selection of toasted and buttered bread served in a cute wood container!

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We shared two mains:

Catfish Pizzaiolo with cherry tomatoes, pepperoncini, olives and basil; the catfish was caught in Quebec using a fishing line and was very hearty and thick.  The sauce was flavourful with the tomato based sauce, but could have been a little bit spicier and could have had more depth of flavour in the sauce. The catfish was very hearty and the portion size was decent even sharing amongst the three of us (even though the dish was meant for two).

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Due (pronounced doo-eh) of lamb which was double stuffed ravioli with ricotta and lamb sourced from Belanger Organic farms in Hillsdale, Ontario. The dish was topped with a tomato-based sauce that was made with the lamb bones to give a deeper flavour to the dish.  Although we enjoyed this dish, we found the ricotta to be a little overpowering towards the lamb and therefore the lamb flavour was not as pronounced as we would have hoped it to be.

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DESSERT:

We ended our meal by sharing a strawberry and ginger pannacotta with fresh basil and an expresso. The pannacotta was cooked perfectly and the strawberry, ginger and basil really worked well together.

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THE VERDICT:

We really enjoyed this restaurant for its efforts in transforming Italian cuisine and adapting it to local Ontario products.  The service was also very good and we didn’t feel like we were rushed during our meal. The atmosphere was very relaxed and we spent about 2.5 hours in the restaurant without even realizing how fast the time went by! The wine selection was also very good with local wines from the Niagara region, as well as from around Italy. The restaurant even had cocktail specials including a cherry blossum gin martini and many other specialties.  In terms of the food, the appetizers were very flavourful, and the fresh home-made pulled mozzarella was also something that is hard to find!  However, when we got to the main courses, we found the food to be good but lacking in depth of flavour.  Overall, after our meal (we shared 2 appetizers, 2 salads, 2 mains and 1 dessert), we felt satisfied, but not full. I would recommend this restaurant as a good hangout for a group of friends to sit down and enjoy some wine and appetizers. In terms of price, expect to pay upwards of 75 dollars per person for a three course meal with wine.

A Big Thank you to the Local Kitchen and Wine Bar for your hospitality and for giving us a great night out with family!

Well be back for sure!

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