NEAR: L’Unità

18 Apr

So I figured I’d wait a while to try a new restaurant since I’ve been working on other resolutions. After all, I have now completed NINE of my ten resolutions and it hasn’t even been six months. Go me! But the sacrifice is my waist line (and after trying on a few pairs of shorts, I’m realizing I need an exercise resolution, not a restaurant one).

The culprit in feeding me copious amounts of delicious food this time? L’unita.

I’ve attached pictures but it was so dark in there that we literally had to crowd four candles around the food to get a decent picture.  Yes, were one of *those* diners.

After deciding to try out L’unita instead of Niagara Street Cafe (which beckoned my first twitter hater who didn’t like the fact that I wasn’t coming to Niagara Street Cafe because it was closing), I’m glad I made the choice.

I went into a detailed review of my first experience on Yelp. I’ll talk about the food on my second visit and the vibe as a whole here.  Thus, the two reviews will be mixed.

L'unita's fried chickpeas otherwise known as ceci. (che-chi).

VIBE 

It’s a sophisticated, dim lit place with all of the cliched factors in place: exposed brick walls, hardwood floors, nicely set tables. It’s all there. You’d expect the douchey Yorkville, banker crowd to be here but it wasn’t like that. In Yorkville, of all places, this place felt so unpretentious. And immediately, you do feel like you’re welcomed into your very chic friend’s place for dinner.

Co-owner, David Minicucci, is the consummate host. Have a seat at the bar. Don’t mind if I do! I get water, my drink and even really flavourful nuts. We have a very good conversation and also with the bartenders for about 10 minutes. Not many owners do this. Not many in Yorkville either. It was a nice change (though this might not happen on a weekend, per se).

On the second visit our group of four got the love seat (I was sitting beside my friend). And with all of the food, we were glad to sink into the couch after four hours.  It’s one of those places.

WE DRANK
DRINK:  On the first visit I started with the pineapple gimlet, so fresh, so exciting. It has my favourite libation of choice, gin, hendrick’s gin at that, apfelkorn apple liqueur, St. germain & fresh pineapple over ice. If you like your cocktails sweet this is a good choice. My wine choice was the 2010 Pra Soave Classico, white wine that was just sweet enough and went well with the many fish and pasta dishes that we had.

Second time around, I had a red that I savoured for a while. I’m blaming my forgetfulness of what I had on the food coma. I *think* I had the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. What I liked was that our server, Nathan, asked what type of red we liked and he picked my wine for our meal.  He’s a great server and made our experience really comfortable.

L'unita's Carbonara. One of my most favourite things. If I was Oprah, I'd be giving away carbonara. YOU get carbonara! YOU get a carbonara! EVERYONE gets a Carbonaraaaaahhh.

WE ATE 
A note: Mike Angeloni is the chef here. You may know him from the Black Hoof (one of, if not, the most popular restaurants in Toronto) and his recent stint at F’Amelia. I was wondering where he went! I’m surprised his turn as chef here isn’t getting more attention because dude knows how to COOK!
Run, don’t walk kids!

L'unita's albacore tuna.

My personal favourites are starred.

***Olives — warm, lovely olives of different sizes. One of my favourite things ever. And they don’t skimp either!

Cucumber & Radish Salad- A good palate cleanser for what was to come. I love the dill on this dish.

Grilled octopus & n’duja–one of the highlights for me. It didn’t look like it had a million tentacles on it. The chickpeas gave was a good complement to the chewiness of the octopus.

***Spaghetti alla Carbonara–one of my most favourite things ever. The egg was waiting to be cracked. Everything was so fresh and of course the cheese..THE CHEESE. When I came back the second time, I had to order it again. It’s a big dish and good to share all of the dishes.  The pancetta is so fresh in this dish as well.  I’m surprised that Enoteca Sociale (who also did a fantastic carbonara) got rid of theirs. So this is now carbonara central.

It was served with side of polenta with brown butter & sage and the sweetness of this dish (it kind of tasted like it had a maple syrup tinge to it) complemented the tenderness of the ***pork belly. This was a pretty generous serving as well. Again, make sure you have some room!

To start: arancini

SECOND VISIT 

We had the arancini – another one of my favourite things. You get four small portions and it’s all gooey cheese inside. It’s served with pancetta jam. I would have licked the plate if I had to.

We were given crispy ceci, complimentary, which was a really nice surprise. I liked this as a healthier choice and these chickpeas were addictive! The garlic and mint were a nice touch.

Our group also got a number of different dishes and decided to share.  Aforementioned, one of the dishes was the carbonara. This time, we got:

L'unita's stuffed crust ricotta pizza.

albacore tuna ‘seared rare’ – the tuna was very fresh and a good palate cleanser, but I’m not a big fan of raw fish. It was good, I’m just not a fan.

ricotta ‘stuffed crust’  – our token guy Will ordered this. I love prosciutto pizza (well, prosciutto anything) and I liked this take on stuffed crust. Will loved it but I like my cheese melted if it’s in the crust. That said, it was a nice departure not to have it melted.  I’d probably try another pizza next time to compare.

***leek & fennel ravioli — this time around, I was able to focus on this dish and we were all big fans of it. 
It came with pork sausage & charred beet greens. Highly recommended. I find ravioli isn’t something you find on a lot of Italian menus in the city so this was a good departure.

We also had the special, the agnolotti, stuffed with rapini and sausage (again, our food coma had a few of us forgetting exactly what was in here. Apologies. This is why I’m not a food critic).  It was good but we liked the ravioli and carbonara better. Maybe because rapini has a bit of a bitter taste?

So that was dinner… Now onto dessert!

L'unita's vanilla yogurt panna cotta.

L'unita's dolce di latte zeppole --sugared sicilian doughnuts with chocolate & frangelico crema. They are THE BEST.

DESSERT 
I didn’t think I could eat any more but the desert here is off the chain. OFF THE CHAIN. So much so, that I ordered the exact same things for everyone to try the second time around.
***Vanilla yogurt panna cotta  –not sure exactly how healthy it is, but it’s delish and surprise! served in a mason jar. I loved the layers of this dish. You have to break through the oat brown sugar crumble to get down to the bottom where this really nice chunk of lemon curd. OMG, it’s so good. The mint is a nice touch!

***Dolce di latte zeppole –this is now one of my new addictions. It’s dough on crack. There was literally steam coming out of the donut when dipped into the chocolate & frangelico crema. This will definitely be on my twenty tastiest things in Quarter Two. It was the perfect end to a lovely meal.

I literally couldn’t eat any more at the end of both of my meals!

As for the restaurant resolutions list, I would say that out of the nine restaurants that I’ve tried,  L’unita and Nota Bene were my most memorable meals in terms of food quality and atmosphere (and of course, company!)

Will, Joie and Nat. The Food Coma Diaries. Great food. Great company!

OBLIGATORY CATCHY REMARK 

You will get the #foodcoma shakes. I was still full THE NEXT MORNING (both times).  I’ve already been here twice in a week and the service and food are pretty consistent. I feel like this is very good value, especially in Yorkville where you can feel easily ripped off.  For me, L’unita is more of a neighbourhood place which welcomes its regulars back with open arms. I will be back!

2 Responses to “NEAR: L’Unità”

  1. baconismagic April 20, 2012 at 7:51 pm #

    Oh I totally missed out here, looks delicious.

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