Briscola Trattoria – CLOSED

Yummy yummy yummy!  Only words that could come to mind during this meal!
I am bombarded daily with newsletters, blogs and articles about new restaurant openings in the city and more often than not I’m excited about them but it can also get overwhelming, especially when my list of places to go doesn’t seem to be getting any smaller.
Recently I was reading a lot about a new gem that opened up on College street so not only was I excited because it was close to work but the reviews sounded great.  On my list it went and instead of venturing out there 3 months down the road and thanks to a mother of a snow storm, I was able to test drive it sooner than later.  What better way to wait out being poured on with snow and warm up from the cold then with good old comforting Italian eats.
Briscola Trattoria is actually the new home the now closed  Cinq 01 which was getting a lot of buzz during TIFF 2010.  My work peeps and I even ventured out there a few times for after work drinks but for some reason it was always empty.   Now under the new management of night club kings Charles Khabouth (Ultra) and Toufik Sarwa (Amber), it’s been re-invented and recently opened its doors under the new name. 
The interior got a minor update with a new communal table  added to the back dining area for larger parties (very cute!), cozy and spacey booths and metal tables.  It’s the perfect setting for a night out with a group of people, a casual drink or a date.  Would love to see what this could become with a DJ at the back on the weekends!
 Front area with the bar
 Booth seating
 View of back dining area with communal table
The menu had a number of different options for each course and what was great about the mains was that they offered a small and large portion  The selection is made up of mainly Southern/rustic inspired Italian food.  Good selection of pastas and pizza all running in and around of $20.

The first thing I HAD to order was these Fried Artichokes with Saffron that I had read about a few times in some of the reviews.  They came out rather quickly and we pretty much devoured them – it was an interesting blend of textures with the fried outside but the soft/layered artichoke in the middle.  It came with a Pickled Chili Aioli dipping sauce which we of course wiped clean. 

Before I go on to our mains I do have to make this one note about waiters – what is the deal with giving the options of still or sparkling when I ask for a simple glass of water?  I always thought that unless specified when someone says “water please” they mean good ol’ Toronto H2O.  No?  Maybe I’m wrong but dude got a crazy annoyed look when we had to specify.  Anyways.
Next on the menus were our mains – BK opted for the Eggplant Parmigiana with tomato sauce and Buffalo Mozzarella and I went for the Risotto ai Funghi – a mixture of wild woodland mushrooms finished with white truffle oil.  The only words that I could get out of my mouth were “Oh my god.” and BK by said that it was by far “the best Eggplant Parmigiana she’s ever had”.  The tomato sauce on the eggplant tasted so fresh and the veggies were cooked to perfection.  The small serving was actually quite filling.  The risotto, oh the risotto – to die for.  It was creamy, soft and bursting at the seams with flavors of Italian cheese and fresh ground pepper.  I couldn’t finish it even though I tried really hard to – filling but good to every last bite.

Another funny waiter story – so BK asked a question about the sides because they were pretty much all written in Italian and she quickly realized there was no bread option.  The waiter then said “oh but there’s bread for the table, is that what you want?”.  Um, doesn’t bread for the table come BEFORE the appetizer?  Oh boy.

Since no meal for BK is complete without her dessert we had to opt for something sweet after all deliciousness.  We both went straight for the Perugia Chocolate Mousse-Cocoa Shortbread Crumble.  It was good but I could have used more shortbread crumble and less mousse. 

Another waiter story – we ordered our dessert from a waiter who wasn’t our original, asked our bill from the guy that we think is the manager and then paid our bills with a waitress in training.  Interesting.

Overall great experience – would definitely go back and test out some of the other options although I don’t know how I could not order that Risotto again.  The Mediterranean Sea Bass with clams, tomatoes, olives and black lentil ragout sounds divine and the Tagliarini tossed in a creamy Parmigiano Fonduta and finished al gratin is just what I need to kick my diet out the door.

Till Next Time!
Address: 501 College Street
Parking: Street parking or a paid lot right next to the place
Price: $$ – about $50 for a shared appy, main, shared dessert and glass of wine
Service: 6/10 – I think our waiter was on crack
Food:  8.5/10
Ambiance:  8/10

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