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Sotto una Buono Stella: Chef Giancarlo Perbellini at Buca Yorkville

sotto una buono stella

The fifth and penultimate installment of the exceptional dining series Sotto una Buona Stella* delivered yet another brilliant visiting Italian chef to Buca Yorkville last night – this time, Giancarlo Perbellini, whose flagship restaurant Casa Perbellini, in Verona, has two Michelin stars.

His culinary style pivots on understatement, and a deceptive simplicity, the flavours bright, clear and fresh. Perbellini also embraces Verona’s fixation with lightly cooked – or raw – foods. And his first course provided all that in a single stunning stroke: a cold, firm spaghetti lightly dressed in pesto, topped with delicate ribbons of raw cuttlefish, sided with creamy raw shrimp and brightened with lemon and basil. It did exactly what it was supposed to: we were hooked and wanted more.

sotto una buono stellaThat came in the form of the evening’s finest, most memorable dish – lightly cooked, succulent branzino perched on a mound of luscious burrata, dabbed with spring-fresh fava bean pesto and a drizzle of superb olive oil (next time some pedantic foodie tells you that Italians never combine cheese and seafood, show them this photograph and tell them to pipe down until they get some experience).

sotto una buono stellaFish was followed by an addictively rich risotto, studded with morels and spring peas, and laced with the Italian version of onion soubise. Then a beautifully tender cut of veal, succulent and smoky, sauced with its rich cooking reduction, and a sort of deconstructed asparagus “carbonara.”

sotto una buono stellaPerbellini’s dessert of lemon-infused crème brulée with mandarin sorbet ended his oeuvre on a signature, refreshing note. And then Gentile stepped for a coup de grace, with olive oil cake saturated with the Italian liqueur Alchermes, maple cream and a maple-sap cured egg yolk. The evening was exactly as intended – a showcase for Italian cooking at its estimable best.

sotto una buono stella

*Sotto una Buona Stella (Under a Lucky Star) is a collaboration between the Buca parent King Street Food Company, the Consulate General of Italy in Toronto, the Instituto Italiano di Cultura, the Italian Trade Commission, and George Brown College, Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts. Its goal is to raise funds for student scholarships at George Brown and to facilitate internship with Italy’s leading chefs.