Via Allegro, in Toronto's west end.
A suburban strip mall with a Staples business depot and a liquor store is an unlikely place to find top-notch Italian food.
But that is the delicious paradox of Via Allegro.
Now in its twelfth year, Via Allego appeals to businessmen on expense accounts, well-heeled epicures, boisterous families, couples on dates. Everyone feels welcome and cosseted in the casually elegant room.
Over the years, I’ve had up-and-down fish and beef. Pastas have been far more consistent.
Pappardelle with rabbit is hearty and generous. A subtle lemon zing flatters minced crab stuffed into tender, bisque-drizzled ravioli.
Baccala agnolotti, dressed with celery leaves and cream, is about as refined as salt cod gets.
To its credit, the kitchen makes all its own desserts, including a blessedly unsweet pecan tart and silky-rich mascarpone cheesecake jazzed with passionfruit glaze.
And the 5,500-label wine list is world class.
Overseen by five on-staff sommeliers, the list features at least 60 wines by the glass and what the restaurant says is the world’s largest collection of Scotch (1,000 varieties) and Amarone (over 300).
Two private rooms, seating 15 and 22, are available for corporate business meetings.
Owner Phil Sabatino prefers to focus the restaurant’s catering efforts on special events like charities and fundraisers.
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