I have long been a fan of Via Allegro, which I know inspires strong reactions pro and con amongst local gourmets. However, joining friends for an early dinner there last night , I opted for a light meal as I had a late-night function to attend afterwards. And I was unpleasantly surprised how really poor were its two main components. To be fair, my heavier-eating companions enjoyed their lamb and risotto, and the taste of one of their desserts (passion fruit cheesecake) made me envy the selection. As well, the service, sometimes the object of criticism, was warm and informed even if the sliver of Gorganzola with honey accompanying an Amarone arrived 10 minutes after my glass was brought to the table.
But the real disasters were -
My pizza "Porco x 3: Semi-spicy boar sausage, in-house cured pancetta, smoked Italian ham, red peppers, caramelized leeks, tomato sauce and mozzarella. " Well, it may have had those ingredients, but it arrived literally flopping over the plate, a huge, uncrisp, flat-tasting uncrusty crust which a not very able home cook might turn out on a first try, with a mere scattering of the enumerated toppings, themselves pleasant enough but underseasoned - and the whole abomination luke warm. Quite frankly I have had much better pizza - crust and toppings - from Pizza Nova. It is unbelievable that an Italian restaurant of such pretensions and with VA's pedigree and pride should turn out such a really third-rate pie. Not to mention wrap the leftovers in a brown paper bag!
As for the much-touted tira mi su dessert, it too was gargantuan: four ice scream coops "Our classic dessert of Brandy scented espresso soaked Italian biscuits with layers of imported mascarpone cream. Also a nutella (hazelnut and chocolate) tiramisu variation with a milk chocolate banana sauce." No sign of the chocolate banana sauce - and the whole thing bland bland bland and tending to be dry, rather than the creamy moist luxuriousness I associate with the best examples of that confection.
I was a friend's guest - and he had gone to a lot of trouble to coordinate busy schedules and a special treat, so I was not in a position to complain to our affable waitress - but what a let down. It will be a long time before I make the trek to Etobicoke again.
1750 The Queensway, Toronto, ON M9C5H5, CA
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