647 351 1200 | $12-$17 Pizza & Pasta
Haven’t heard of Strada241? Neither had I ten minutes before I decided to go check it out. The Rubino brothers, of Rain and Ame, opened this spot up in the center of Chinatown last week, and I happened to spot it on Toronto Life. It was close to work and I was in the mood for pizza, so naturally I walked over with a couple coworkers to sample the menu.
Photo Credit: blogTO
Simple tends to be very revealing and the menu here is very straightforward: antipasti, salads, a good pizza selection, a few pastas and some salumi/cheese options. You can’t hide behind a lot of these dishes, either you get them right or you have a super mediocre restaurant on your hands.
First up, selected the zucchini fritti served with fresh parsley salsa verde. Presentation here was awesome, with each slice spiked on it’s own nail coming out of the board. It tasted great too: the light crispy breading with perfectly done cuts of zucchini and that bright, savoury sauce worked well.
Both my friends ordered paninis and really enjoyed them, but oddly, they seem to have been removed from the most recent menu posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page. In case they make a return appearance, the pollo cacciatore sandwich (above) is delicious, hearty, and highly recommended.
The other panini we ordered, a mozzarella, tomato, lettuce, and pesto sandwich is clean yet satisfying as well. Just look at that bread. There’s a bakery on site that also serves a number of goods out front, which you might have guessed anyways on the basis of the bread alone.
The final main had to be pizza. I went with the Zia Rita, topped with a beautiful tomato sauce (so delicious when done this well), great spicy salami nduja, roasted onion, rapini, parmigiano, and mint. The crust was pretty tasty as well, and had a good mix of chewy and crispy.
We also ordered a side of cold rapini with a lemon vincotto dressing and some frisee. I’d never had cold rapini, but that lemon kept it real bright and I found myself coming back for more. That said, thought it could have used something else to contrast the level of bitterness just a bit more.
After a great meal, it only made sense to go with dessert. My choice was the ‘Limone’, a cold lemon custard of sorts topped with an almond crumble, ribbons of fennel and a touch of fennel frond on top. The pairing of fennel and perfectly balanced sweet/tart lemon was terrific. Throw in the textural contrast of the biscotti-like almond crumble, and this was one hell of a dessert. Highly recommend it.
Service and Ambience
Insulated from the hustle and bustle of Chinatown, you’re more or less transported when you walk in. High ceilings, tons of brick and wood, and a very open concept make this a great space. The front area with coffee and sweets kind of reminds me of Dark Horse just down the street actually.
Our server was also good given the newness of the restaurant and the changing menu. Our waters were always full, she happily offered her recommendations, and was really cheery throughout.
I was so impressed by this place and will definitely be back. There’s a bunch of dishes I’d re-order and I also can’t wait to try the baked goods up front and the ongoing changes to the menu. It’s not the most ambitious food in the world, but it’s hard to find it all executed this well.
Posted by: Jacob, Visited Oct 9, 2012