No. 9: Giulietta
972 College Street West, Toronto
It’s nice to see a restaurant get so many things so right—and be rewarded for the effort. Giulietta opened last year in the renovated space that was formerly Bestellen, Top Chef Canada runner-up Rob Rossi’s temple of meat.
Rossi has partnered with David Minicucci of L’Unità, and the duo draw on their Italian heritage to give classic Italian cuisine a fresh spin. In practice, this merely means doing it simply and correctly, with a light touch. Rossi’s talents are à point: top-notch ingredients allow the chef to do more with less. The menu is replete with choice, yet easy to navigate. One beautifully printed page lays out a few options each for primi, secondi and contorni, along with salads, pizzas and spuntini (snacks).
The namesake pizza Giulietta with lardo and scamorza is perfection, and the polpo e fagioli—octopus cooked sous vide then grilled, served with dollops of salsa verde and cannellini beans—must be considered the best in the city. A pine-nut tart—riffing on a classic butter tart, but way less sweet—has become a customer favourite. The room is warmly decorated and adequately sound-baffled, making it remarkably comfortable for lingering. Low-alcohol cocktails are designed to prick the palate. A delightful wine list touches all the right notes: bottles are reasonably priced, unique but not self-consciously so, and come predominantly from low-intervention makers. Service surprises by being so capable and warm—another thing Giulietta gets right.