Yup, I was the first one in the door last evening when Ascari Enoteca opened, corner of Queen St. East and Caroline Ave.
They don’t have their liquor license yet — they will in time for Tuesday’s Grand Opening — but I enjoyed myself thoroughly.
They’ve done nice things with the space: it’s completely unrecognizable from two incarnations ago when it was Lou’s Variety, and the only thing I recognize from when Ben had his gallery here is the depth of the window ledges. Muted colours and grey tables made me think of menswear fabrics; open steel kitchen, so you can see what’s going on.
First, I had a Chinotto to drink. Sort of like a bitters without the alcohol.
Very pleasant to sip while I read through the menu. Lots of choices. Lots of things I want to try. I have a hard time nailing it down to two dishes. Finally decide on the Crostini alla Toscana and the Cavatelli.
The crostini arrive, and they are gorgeous to behold. They’re also really tasty. A very smooth chicken liver paté — not even a hint of bitterness — served on a crusty toast with some caramelized onions on top, and a fried sage leaf topping it all off, sprinkled with sea salt. It was really good, one of the better liver patés I’ve had in a restaurant. The presentation was novel, and the flavours worked together perfectly.
That is followed by the cavatelli. They make their pasta in-house, and it’s delicious. There’s a little bit of black truffle in the pasta, which is cooked to the point that it has some resistance against the teeth. The cavatelli comes with confit of duck, brussels sprouts, and chanterelle mushrooms. Freshly ground pepper on top, and that’s it. Simple, beautiful ingredients. It is quite a large serving of pasta. I didn’t have room for dessert.
Crazy, I know, but I decided to have an espresso at the end of dinner (hmm, maybe that’s why I was up so late). Beautiful cup, perfect crema, smooth flavour.
Total bill was about $42.00. I’ll be back.