Although we were meant to be eating at Black Hoof last night, a quick call to the restaurant last week confirmed that they were not open on Wednesdays, so a reservation was placed at Osteria Ciceria e Tria. A week later, I arrived at Osteria Ciceria e Tria to find my father simmering over his lost reservation and being ignored by staff. It takes quick a bit to make my father "simmer" but I hoped that it was just a hiccup in an otherwise soon-to-be-pleasant evening.
However, it was the beginning of one of the strangest / most "interesting" meal experiences I've had in Toronto. The restaurant was heaving, with a large communal table down the middle of the restaurant that was full, and many 2 and 4 tops dotted around the place, also full. Once our reservation was "found" (or we were accommodated, one or the other) we were ushered to a very tight squeeze table which necessitated my poor Dad trying to figure out what part of his anatomy to offend the diners next to us with. It was CLOSE. We were left with the menus, no explanation of concept, offer of water etc. That would normally be fine, but the menu proved to prompt some questions (i.e. the antipasti had no prices) so it would have been helpful.
The menu was paper and labelled with date, and we arrived at 6.30pm, so I assumed that the short (very short) menu would be accurate. Not so.
After our lovely yet new server opened our bottle of wine ("I'm learning how to open wine" she explained as she struggled) I asked about the antipasti. She explained that you order the whole thing and you get some of each of the five antipasti listed on the menu. Fine, we ordered for two people.
I have a mussel intolerance and was a little disappointed to see three (and I believe actually on recall, four) dishes on the VERY short menu had mussels...two of the dishes in the antipasti had mussels included. Never mind I thought, I'll have some of the remaining three dishes. Unfortunately, we were only brought three dishes total...eggplant and beef meatballs in tomato sauce (pleasant, strange texture, acidic tomato, lukewarm which may be the way it is served so I'm not complaining), mussels in a broth (can't comment personally on the preparation), and some salami, some focaccia, and "something else" that was bready and cheesy. The mussels and the meatballs were on the menu, the third dish had half of it's ingredients on the menu, and the other two dishes (a potato and vegetable something or other, and a mussel and tiger shrimp dish) never appeared. Ttwo of the five mussels were eaten by my Dad before he pushed them away. I asked him to please continue as I wouldn't be indulging, but he said they were undercooked for his liking.
Now, at this point we should definitely have asked some questions, I know that. At the time, the whole thing was just so...strange...that we didn't question. It was very much a "eat what they give you" type of place.
The primi had four (or five...memory doesn't serve) offerings, and I chose the Baked Risotto with parmesan and mushrooms. It came out beautifully, and was absolutely delicious. Never one to complain about cheese, I indulged in the rich dish. My father mentioned that it was too rich for his taste but no-matter...it was superb.
Dad went straight to Secondi, with three offerings, fried cod, steak, and another mussel based dish. Dad had the steak which came in five smallish slices, jewel-red rare and appearing seared. I would have mistaken it for Ahi Tuna if I hadn't known better. As he wasn't asked how he wanted it cooked (something we realized as soon as the dish arrived) it was a shade too rare for his normal order, but he proclaimed it delicious..."if only it was three times the size" he smiled wistfully.
His steak came with a side and he ordered the dandelion salad, which was very "meh".
Cappuccinos excellent. Dessert (flourless chocolate cake) lacked something, maybe sweetness? Otherwise standard fare.
$120 before tax with bottle of wine. Hungry afterwards and should have ordered more food.
It doesn't sound that bad in this review and honestly it wasn't bad...it was just so odd. There seemed to be a complete disconnect between the kitchen and the diners about what was being presented and how, as well as big shortfalls in front-of-house (reservations, seating, menu explanation, and water) and very new staff. I look forward to returning in a year or so for another go because I think it may improve with age.
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