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Opinion

Don Appetit! Yolanda’s La Dolce Vita


Don Douloff, Food WriterNestled in a heritage home built in 1843 and occupying a charming location on Bronte Harbour’s waterfront, about an hour west of Toronto, Yolanda’s Spuntino Casa takes inspiration from the cuisine of Central and Southern Italy. It also draws inspiration from Nonna Yolanda, the grandmother of one of the restaurant’s co-owners.

Beef and pork meatballs.

Made from Nonna Yolanda’s own recipe, beef and pork meatballs are a delight — moist, perfectly seasoned and resting in a sweet tomato sauce zinged with chile heat.

A mountain of kale, cleverly shredded and thus very easy to eat (not always the case with kale, whose leaves can be tough and fibrous), is tossed with a sharp house dressing that contrasts nicely with sweet raisins. A blanket of toasted breadcrumbs adds visual flair and textural contrast.

Fragrant basil perfumes a salad built on supremely fresh greens, cherry tomatoes, pickled onion, cucumber and aged ricotta.

Grilled octopus with romesco sauce.

Main courses, too, are rustic, yet grounded in first-rate technique. Romesco sauce’s bright red-pepper notes play well against wonderfully tender and smoky grilled octopus garnished with bone marrow, radicchio and potatoes. The kitchen grills branzino until it’s supremely delicate and moist.

But the best among a strong trio of mains is spaghetti tossed with calamari, huge shrimp, mussels and a generous amount of squid ink. Besides creating a stunning, jet-black presentation, the ink imparts a mild squid flavour that contrasts brilliantly with sweet, blistered cherry tomatoes. This dish alone warrants a return visit!

Olive oil and orange cake.

Desserts are equally satisfying. A generous slice of olive oil and orange cake is moist, richly textured and not too sweet. Salted caramel jazzes silky Italian chocolate pudding garnished with chunks of brownie.

Providing an apt accompaniment to this fine food is a dining room bright and airy in its white-and-black theme. Up front, an intimate bar area buzzes with energy. But on a perfect summer day, the supremely pleasant and tastefully outfitted covered patio, overlooking the marina and harbour, is the place to be.

The covered patio.

Group options include buyouts of the inside dining room and patio either separately or together, as a full buyout. The inside dining room seats up to 60 people, while the patio seats up to 75.

— Don Douloff has been a restaurant critic for over 30 years and, during that time, has critiqued more than 1,500 eateries. In 1988, he studied the fundamentals of French cuisine at Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris, France. During his time in France, he furthered his gastronomic education by visiting the country’s bistros, brasseries and Michelin-starred temples of haute cuisine. He relishes exploring the edible universe in his native Toronto and on his travels throughout Canada and abroad.



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