ARIA: Stunning style and snapper to match

416-363 2742    |    $16-22 pasta, $27-38 pesci, $35-47 carni

 

Chances are, unless you’ve been to the ACC in the last little while, you’ve never heard of Aria. And even if you were in the area, you probably didn’t know much about this shining jewel across the street from the Real Sports Bar. Yes, it’s almost intimidatingly good-looking from the outside, but after two visits, I’d encourage you to walk in. 


Food

The menu just recently changed, so not everything here is still available. Not to worry though, I’m sure the rest of the Italian fine dining menu will be quite well done. The menu’s offers a variety meat, fish and pasta as well as small sections for crudi (raw bar) and fritti (crispy fried goodness). 


Photo Credit: Food Junkie Chronicles

When we searched through the crudi, had to go with the tuna, charred pineapple, basil, mint, olive oil and fennel pollen (above). This is a great raw dish that’s far from bland. Basil and mint keep this fresh, pineapple adds juicy sweetness, tuna texture is wonderful, and an undercurrent of fennel and the charred fruit add that extra taste layer. Really enjoyed this.


Photo Credit: Food Junkie Chronicles

The other crudo we dined on was the carne cruda (basically beef tartare) with raw egg yolk, black truffle and porcini fries (above). Despite the attractive presentation this dish missed for me. More than a little too salty and I’d believe you if you told me they’d removed the truffle entirely. The porcini fries just tasted like salty fries.

In addition to these starters, I’ve also had the new fennel salad and shaved octopus carpaccio, both of which I’d recommend as light starters (no pics, sorry =S).


Photo Credit: Food Junkie Chronicles

For the mains, you cannot miss with the snapper dish (above). Aria’s nominated it for Dish Duel for good reason. You can find my take on it here.

I’ve also had their new paccheri pasta with scorpion fish stew. FYI: paccheri looks like short, smooth, hollow cannelloni tubes. They were perfect al dente, the portion was filling, and the stew hearty and comforting. Not the most ‘fine dining’ dish you’ll ever have, but nice nonetheless. 


Photo Credit: Food Junkie Chronicles

As for dessert, tried the pine nut and truffle honey tart with basil citrus curd, raspberry and lemon (above). Can’t say I was impressed or disappointed, it was pleasantly sweet and the mix of lemon and raspberry was nice. Missed the basil, earthy quality of the truffle honey, and pine nut flavour could have been more forward.

Service and Ambience

It goes without saying that this place looks incredible inside. It’s stunning from the floating globes, to the amazing spiraling woodwork (or at least, it looks like wood), to the wine tower and glowing back splash covered in wine bottles. It’s looks like a restaurant straight out of Ocean’s Thirteen (compliment). 


For such a “fancy” restaurant, I found the service unexpectedly warm. Our servers were charming and attentive, likely a holdover from the atmosphere at Noce on Queen West (same owners).

The Reco?

You can’t beat the atmosphere and awe of the place, and you can’t deny there are some outstanding dishes (snapper and tuna crudo). When you tally up all the dishes, you’ll come away happy with the performance, even with a dish or two that doesn’t wow you. I’ll be coming back for more.

Other reviews:
Toronto.com    |     National Post    |     Post City

 Posted by: Jacob, Visited Feb 6, 2012

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