Small Town Food Co.

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It’s finally beginning to look like summer in the city, which means new menus with the freshest ingredients.

At Small Town Food Co. located at Parkdale, co-chefs Trish Gill and Charlotte Langley have created their new menu with the vibrancy and freshness of the changing season. The co-chefs have been working together for three years at two other restaurants and have come to Small Town Food Co. more recently to collaborate on ideas to incorporate the mantra of “Canadian nostalgic comfort cuisine”.

“It’s a hometown spin on Canadian cuisine,” Langley said, describing the menu choices. The chefs prepared an ultra rare fresh Albacore tuna rolled in a dill, celery, and lemon gremolata, with an mayo aioli, lightly roasted Albacore and oyster with hints of celery, paired with a salad consisting of diced celery, cucumber, and potato. They also served a brioche-based flatbread with charred green onion pesto base (without any nuts!), asparagus, courgette, ramps, fiddlehead and peas all topped with Parmesan.

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“My background is in fish preparation so, we thought for this menu, we would do a meat friendly menu with some vegetarian options,” Langley explains. “So taking from memory, on Sundays, my grandfather would make pig’s bum, scallop potatoes and creamed corn for dinner, so we are going to be doing a riff on that – something that I enjoyed growing up, but refining it.”

The chefs work with Ontario farmers, as much as possible, and encompass that “small town, big city” feel of the restaurant by working with those around them. Plus everything in the restaurant is made from scratch and in house.

“It’s like what your grandma would make when you would go home for the weekend,” echoed Gill. “But the portions are a bit different and it’ll look a bit prettier. Keeping the same flavours though, and lots of memory while you are eating.” It’s a conversation piece, which allows their food to take you back to a time and place of comfort and warmth, and to share that nostalgia with the people you are dining with.

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The drink features will change to compliment the menu. They are doing a house negroni with some espresso bean and coconut flavours, as well as a twist on a basil smash with raspberry and lemon.

Small Town Food Co. is located at 1263 Queen Street West, just east of Brock Avenue. Be sure to hashtag #smalltownfood #canadiancomfortfood #novellamag

Made With Love Cocktail Competition

Bartenders, get ready to shake, shake, double strain, and taste because MadeWithLove™ is back in Toronto!

The country’s largest mixology competition continues its tour across Canada, after an extremely successful run in Montreal last December. Founded in 2009, MadeWithLove™ has hosted over fifty competitions across Canada and Mexico with a mission to expand the cocktail culture through sharing recipe secrets, creativity and innovation.

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Twenty-one of Toronto’s finest bartenders will be competing in the finals in front of over a thousand mixologists, with groundbreaking cocktail creations. Each masterpiece will be judged based on taste, originality and creativity. This year will also offer a first-ever food pairing portion, which will serve to enhance the experience of the cocktail and event.

Finalist from both the People’s Choice and Judge’s Choice will represent Toronto at the National Finale in Toronto on May 25th, 2015. MadeWithLove™ finals are on March 30th 2015, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Liberty Grand, located at the Exhibition Place. Ticket includes full tasting of the competition cocktails, food pairing and voting privileges.

Take a picture of your favourite cocktail and hashtag #enjoyMWL #novellamag so we can see which drink you prefer. Cheers!

All photographs courtesy of MWL 2014.

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Buonanotte Revives The Supper Club Dining Experience in Toronto

Buonanotte Dining

Buonanotte is bringing the supper club dining experience back to Toronto. Since Buonanotte opened its first location in Montreal in 1991, it has been the prime location for the ultimate mixed dinning and clubbing experience.

“We love the idea of having a supper club that’s so focused on quality food and service but at the same time be able to transform into this outrageous party we have on the weekends”, says Geoff Chen the manager of Buonanotte.

Buonanotte Event

The seasonal based menu provides an array of delicious delicacies provided by the culinary skills from Executive Chef Davide Iannaci and Chef De Cuisine Evan Dickinson. When deciding on a starter, Novella recommends the Affettati Misti, which is a selection of daily cured meats. For the main course, many customers cannot seem to get enough of the array selection of pizza and pastas. Buonanotte’s Pizza Chef, Enrico Dal Sasso, makes some of the best pizzas in the city offering a variety of flavours to satisfy any taste bud. The pizzaiolo oven is imported from Italy and heats up to 1000 degrees, allowing the pizza to be prepared within a couple of minutes. Novella recommends trying the mouthwatering Asiago pizza that’s served with crushed san marzano tomatoes, fresh basil, asiago cheese D.O.P, spicy salami, shallots and extra virgin olive oil. The pizzas are made from scratch and all the pastas are made in-house. If you like mushrooms then we recommend ordering the delectable Tagliatelle Con Funghi Selvaggi pasta served with tagliatelle with wild mushrooms, demi glace, extra virgin olive oil and fresh thyme. To finish off the heavenly meal, Novella’s must-try dessert is Buonanotte’s savoury cannoli.

Asiago Pizza
Asiago Pizza

Tagliatelle Con Funghi Selvaggi
Tagliatelle Con Funghi Selvaggi

On Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays Buonanotte transforms the dining room into a dance party. Tables are removed, bottle service is added and a DJ spins top 40 music. “Like any supper club, it’s all about the transformation”, says Geoff. The supper club attracts a mature 27+ crowd, those who appreciate delicious food and the ultimate party. There are many large groups celebrating birthdays and other events. At Buonanotte, it’s all about the grand appeal, “Everything is just a grand party. We’re just here to wow people”, continues Geoff. At Buonanotte they want to create a family styled dinner vibe with big shareable portions and even serve a whole pig and ribs on a rack.

In addition, Buonanotte hosts happy hour from 5pm-7pm on Thursdays, a meet and greet for professionals in the city. This allows professionals from local businesses and offices to meet and network with people outside of their work yet still allowing them to meet people in their related field. Buonanotte offers complimentary snacks and bites.

Follow Buonanotte on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Fail- Safe Valentine’s Day Gift Guide for the Woman in Your Life!

Anthony O’Dell, Fashion Contributor.

It’s that time of year again, that men dread and women can’t wait for: Valentine’s Day. Although it’s still a week and a half away, don’t wait until the last minute and be stuck getting the clichéd roses and chocolates. An unforgettable Valentine’s Day for her starts with a gift that she’s going to remember and use for more then just the night. Whether your girl’s into the healthy lifestyle craze or just wants to spend some quality time with her man, check out these 4 fail-safe Valentines Day gifts.

 

 

Following the popular deliver to your door subscription model, Wine Collective lets you pick your package and delivers 2-6 amount of bottles straight to your doorstep each month. If you’re stuck on what to get her, Wine Collective is a surefire winner. Check it out here.

 

 

If spending quality time with her man is all she wants for Valentines Day, get pampered at Elmwood Spa. One of Canada’s leading spas, complete with two couple suites, there’s no better place to spend some quality time getting spoiled with your woman. Check it out here.

 

 

If your girl’s into beauty but is tired of the typical department store fragrances, Vetiver Aromatics might be the right fit for her. 6 fragrance oils are included as well as instructions to mix her own perfume, so she can finally find a scent that fits her. Check it out here.

 

 

For all the girlfriends buying multiple $5 dollar Kale smoothies at your local juice bar every day, this is for her. If she’s into clean eating, she’ll appreciate the option customize her drinks, the bundle of money she’ll save as well as not having to venture out into the blistering winter for her favorite drink. Who said being practical isn’t romantic? Check it out here.

 

This gift guide is the first in a series of articles we’re doing for Valentine’s Day.  Check back often! 

 

Levetto: The Wolf of Liberty Village

As the Novella team sipped on a red wine chosen by Executive Chef of Levetto, Shahir Massoud, we were deciding whether to get the delicious Carbonara or the mouthwatering Bucatini pasta. During this time, Massoud joked around with us, struck up conversations with Levetto’s regulars and created a down to earth atmosphere while people enjoyed their food. It was in that moment we understood the success of the restaurant, which opened its fourth location in Liberty Village.

The New York trained Egyptian chef explained Levetto’s unique quality, “You know, the food, the price, style, the whole concept is unique,” gesturing to the menu which features several dishes under ten dollars. “There’s lots of good Italian food in the city, but not for this price. You can get a scratch made bowl of pasta, a couple beautiful salads, a Romana style pizza and we can get out of here for forty bucks without skimping on quality, without skimping on flavour. Everything is made in house.”

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“A lot of people aren’t doing fresh pasta and a lot of people aren’t doing this style of pizza as well. Romano style is a finicky recipe. It’s about 90% water and most pizza dough is maybe 55% water. Over forty-five minutes, you gradually give the dough more water and fold in pockets of air, and then you get this delicious, soft and light crust.”

The choice to move into the up-and-coming Liberty Village was a conscious move by Massoud. The restaurant was designed by Toronto-based designer Henry Lin. After showing his successes in other regional markets, it was time to make the move downtown into the dense location with a different personality and community than that of his other restaurants. The Roman focused authentic Italian food, from spaghetti carbonara to the bucatini all’amatriciana, allows the guest to experience the cuisine’s  different flavours.

“It’s not easy to train someone on how to make a simple dish like Carbonara properly,” he explains. “It could end up a nightmare. When I train someone to make a dish using rendered bacon fat, yolk, and some of the cooking water, they acquire the technique and the appreciation for the dish.”

Growing up, Massoud taught himself to cook through reading cookbooks and watching chefs he idolized, cultivating his love of food through his appreciation of the creation and what it means culturally to feast with others. Later in his twenties, he spent two years in New York training under a head chef. The first few months he was only allowed to prep vegetables, then later moved up to the protein station and eventually moved into the hot kitchen, where he was mentored in the skills he has now passed down to his Levetto staff. Massoud will change the menu according to location, season, and experimentation that the guests request.

“Actually later tonight, there’s a lady coming in named Nancy, and we named a salad after her,” he laughed.

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Levetto’s name was ignited over a few glasses of wine and the playing around of words. “It started with the legend of Rome being founded by two wolves and the Roman word for wolf is lupa”, Massoud recalls. With the first location in Vaughn opened in September 2013, and three more last year – two in Waterloo in the former part of 2014 and Liberty Village this past December – Massoud is only looking forward to more restaurant openings in the GTA with the fifth restaurant set to open at College and Dovercourt next month.

Novella recommends trying out the Carbonara pasta (smoked bacon tossed in cracked black pepper with egg, scallion and grana padano). Then for dessert, you must ask for his warm brown butter and coconut semolina cake with pistachio, a secret recipe passed down from his Egyptian grandmother.

Show us what you had at Levetto by tagging us @novellamag and @levettoresto with your favourite dish and follow Chef Shahir Massoud @shahirmassoud.