Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Lil' Baci: Happy Birthday to Me

Tonight my awesome friends took me out for a fantastic dinner at Lil' Baci in Leslieville. Queen East has so many yummy looking restaurants and food shops that are largely unknown to me, so I jump at any chance to go this neighbourhood. Lil' Baci is a casual Italian place much like Mangia e Bevi with antipasto, a large selection of pizzas, a few pastas and authentic Italian desserts.

We started with an antipasto platter for two shared among 5 of us so as not to spoil our appetites. The platter comes with 3 antipasto selections along with some sliced meats (prosciutto, salumi, etc.) and a bit of parmesan. Darryl chose our selections, which were Tuscan white beans with roasted garlic, mushrooms with roasted garlic, and Ontario roasted tomatoes. All were excellent and the portion was just right for two people to nibble without filling up too much. Between the 5 of us, it was quite a tease.

Not on the menu, but definitely worth raving over was the bread from Brick Street Bakery just half a block away on Logan. I'm not absolutely sure, but I think this is a second location (I believe the Distillery District shop is still open). The waitress told us that Lil' Baci gets their bread as well as spelt for their pizza crust from Brick Street. Tonight's offering was sundried tomato and it was amazing. On some nights, we were told they have olive. Swoon.

For dinner we all shared the house salad (very healthy mix of greens and herbs dusted with salt and pepper, garnished with a slice of lemon), the roasted beet salad (with goat cheese and greens), a Funghi pizza (smothered in mushrooms), a Napoli pizza (anchovies, capers, and olives), the veal cannelloni, and the gnocchi (with spinach and lemon). Everything was delicious. The pizza crust is a bit thicker than at Mangia et Bevi. It's like Terroni, but better I think. The veal inside the cannelloni was so soft and smooth that it's almost Chef Boyardee-like, which I happen to love. I know, classy. The gnocchi was outstanding.

Sharing four mains between us 5 left some room for dessert so we had the dark chocolate mousse and ricotta cheesecake. We learned that the mousse is made by Ambiance Chocolat at Queen and Broadview and is 66% cocoa. It was fabulous -- smooth, dark, and rich. The ricotta cheesecake was interesting. It had a dry, crumbly texture and felt light, if that is possible for cheesecake. The combination of the two together worked, but if you have to pick one, get the mousse.

Lil' Baci has a beautiful, quiet back patio that is ideal for a summer evening of catching up with friends. The temperature and weather were just right tonight so we lingered for a long time. How comforting it is to hang out with old friends. Best birthday dinner ever. Thanks guys!

Lil' Baci
892 Queen Street East
Toronto, ON
Website: http://www.lilbaci.com/

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