Well, after reading all the hype and storm and fury over this place, I decided I would finally go and see for myself.
The interesting thing about that stretch of Queen Street is that the numbers on the south side bear very little relation to the numbers on the north side. I had walked this part of town many times before, but I didn't remember seeing a hip Italian restaurant in my travels. Then, I saw a huge lineup on the sidewalk and immediately afterward a trendy battered faded wooden sign and I knew I had found the place.
Although the line up was huge, I got in quickly by virtue of being a solo diner and for being willing to settle for a seat inside the restaurant, rather than outside in the back.
I had to get the spaghetti al limone, as I had read about it originally on another post here, and it sounded too interesting to pass up. For a starter, I had their version of a salad Nicoise (of course, they had the Italian name for it which I am not going to embarrass myself by trying to recreate here). A Bellini rounded off my dining choices.
Service was efficient. Some nice rustic bread with a dipping bowl of olive oil only. Seemed a bit under-salted to me, but that's just me.
The salad was very nice, the dressing was tangy, the yolks on the egg were orange which was a neat touch. The only thing I didn't think added anything were the potatoes they used. Smaller, maybe new potatoes, hard to say, but they were amazingly bland. They didn't even taste much like potatoes. It was like listening to a symphony where the French horn parts produced no sound. Sure, the rest of the music was nice, but what's up with that French horn?
The spaghetti came. Cooked to perfection al dente. The sauce was a lemon/butter/caper mixture to which they had added some toppings of shaved parmesan reggiano and what I think were baby spinach leaves. It was quite nice, the lemon was definitely the dominant flavour, with the cheese adding a secondary note and the capers, well, they were sort like the potatoes in the salad. It wasn't that rich, there wasn't a lot of liquid butter dripping off and making pools in the bowl, I think it's a nice summer dish.
So, some comments. I had a better time than I would have because I knew from research here not to ask for unreasonable extras. Like balsamic vinegar for my bread dip or maybe some freshly ground black pepper for my pasta. Unreasonable in context of the Terroni philosophy anyway. "Please respect our menu".
My service was fine. I would have liked more water refills in my water glass, but it was otherwise pleasant and efficient.
People made snarky remarks about having to line up for Pizza Libretto. But my dining experience there wasn't any worse than Terroni and in some ways was a bit superior (a bit more warmth from the servers, a bit more balance in the food flavours). If I had had to line up for what I had, I don't know if I would be as happy as I am now with the experience. Mind you, that's probably what someone who got in quick to Libretto could justifiably say.
I will return and try out a Terroni pizza. And bring a good book in case I can't sneak in solo.
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