Libretto aims to be loyal to what real pizza is, invented in Naples using local natural ingredients, cooked in a wood fired oven at extremely high heat to achieve a charred, blistered crust. We use San Marzano tomatoes and Fiore di Latte Mozzarella, brought in fresh daily. Our dough is made with naturally leavened Italian Caputo dopio zero flour. Our pizza bakes in less than 90 seconds in our 900 degree wood burning oven, hand built for us by a 3rd generation pizza oven maker in Naples. Simple, Honest, and Natural.
—Chef Rocco Agostino & Max Rimaldi
this, by far, is the best pizza we’ve had! pizzeria libretto is the only pizzeria in canada that offers a vera pizza napoletana certified experience. and what an experience we had! the perfectly charred crust topped with ingredients bursting with flavor. the big dilemma was whether to eat the pizza as is or with the amazing smoky chilli oil that came with it! i could write a whole essay just about the chilli oil.
(above L: Rocco’s Duck Prosciutto; above R: Margherita D.O.P.)
(above L: the way to eat a neapolitan pizza; above R: cappucino)
(above: postcard of enoteca sociale)
it was so good that we went back for dinner that same day! and it’s not just the pizza that we swear by. the duck prosciutto was tender and paired so well with pear. the tiramisu, which came in a small mason jar, was heavenly. if only we could lick the bottom of the jar!
our bill came with a postcard for enoteca sociale, an italian wine-bar run by the same chef and owners. definitely a must-stop the next trip to toronto. if you’re curious about other VPN Americas members, here’s the grand list! please do yourselves a favor and check at least one of these out; you will be happy, i guarantee.
i do believe that one of the stops while visiting a new city must include a trip to the museum. in toronto, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) offers free admission on wednesdays 6-830pm to view their permanent collection, so we grabbed the opportunity with open arms (and minds).
photographs are not allowed in most museums, but we were able to take shots of the architecture, designed by frank gehry. wood snaked in and out of the old facade and in winding staircases that lead to the upper floors. going up that staircase felt like the scene in (the original) willy wonka and the chocolate factory where the hallway got smaller and narrower … luckily there were big windows around to prevent claustrophobia. and to see the horizon getting dark as the sun set.
our host at hoof cafe, julia, proved to be our kind of foodie. she highly recommended porchetta & co, just down the street from the hoof. porchetta doesnt mess around. pork shoulder marinated in spices for 24 hrs, wrapped in prosciutto, then wrapped again with pork belly, and roasted for 1/2 hr and then slow cooked till its singing out to you…even you did die of a heart attack right there, you’d have a smile on your face!
the menu is simple: choose between a porchetta sandwich or a plate, then choose your sides and extras (the list is not overwhelming). we chose truffle sauce and rapini on our porchetta sandwich (they source their sourdough bun from caldense bakery across the street).
their shop, like all the other food places we’ve been so far in toronto is low-key (we had a hard time finding them while driving at night). keep your eyes peeled! their place is small but food is served pretty fast so customers are in and out the door. we were lucky to have gotten there before a late dinner rush, and got a couple of seats against the wall. the meat was so tender, we enjoyed every bite!
one of the fun things about exploring a new place on foot is that you discover hidden treasures. such was the case for nadege. this pastry shop was not hidden, but a treasure nonetheless.
pastry chef, nadege nourian, was mentored by 2 leading MOFs (Meilleur Ouvrier de France); this is the highest award given to any craftsman in france. her shop offers macarons, madeleines, cakes and tarts. you can’t go wrong with any choice.
julia, our server at hoof cafe, gave us the lead on where to go next on our food adventure in toronto. she had been to guu izakaya for dinner the previous night and had a fun time and recommended we try it. so we decided to meet a friend of ours (on the same day that we went to fresh and hoof cafe) there for dinner – thank goodness for all the walking we did!. they serve japanese food with a twist, tapas-style, on long communal tables in a big open space. a celebratory greeting welcomed us, accompanied us to our table, and bid us a warm farewell for the night. it really was a fun place to eat with friends!
(above L: Oden (japanese-style slow cooked hotpot); above R: japanese french fries (fries with tonkatsu saude and mustard mayo))
(above: Kaki Furai (deep-fried oyster with 3 kinds of sauce))
(above: Enoki Hotate Bacon (enoki mushroom and scallop wrapped in bacon with soy sauce and mustard mayo))
(above L: Okonomiyaki (deep-fried japanese style pancake with tonkatsu sauce and mustard mayo); above R: Takoyaki (deep-fried octopus balls served with tonkatsu sauce and mustard mayo))
(above: Unagi Doria (bbq water eel, yunagi on mixed mushroom rice cheese on top))
we consider ourselves very fortunate: the day we learned about hoof cafe was their last day as a brunch/lunch place. in fact, we were served one of their very last lunches. we would’ve never known how good a lunch we would’ve missed. very zen.
holly, our host, from indexg b&b mentioned that her friend, a food critic, loves this very unassuming place in the little portugal part of the city. we figured we’d give it a try while we were there. but when holly searched on the details, and told us that it was the last day before they closed, we made a change of plans. and we’re very glad we did!
the place was small, cozy, and our table was right up against the back of stools by the bar. but we didn’t mind it. it was one of our best meals!
(above L: pork belly pastrami; above R: baked beans)
(above: tongue grilled cheese)
i’m not much of a meat eater, and was reluctant to try the tongue grilled cheese, but it was all so good! happy tummies on our first and last meal at the hoof cafe.
word on the street is that the hoof cafe is going to be resurrected as a dinner joint serving a set menu of gastric delights. but for those who don’t want to wait till that opens, right across the street is the black hoof, by the same owners grant van gameren and jen agg.