Boar

Boar - the veal sandwich
Location3 Glebe Road East, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.boarsandwiches.ca/

Boar is a spinoff of Black Camel, which serves some pretty solid sandwiches. Because of my affection for that place, I’ve been meaning to check Boar out for a while, though I don’t typically find myself near Yonge and Eglinton, so it took a few months to get there.

They serve Italian sandwiches like veal, sausage, and meatball, with your choice of various sauces and condiments.

I’m a sucker for a good veal sandwich, so I ordered that with tomato sauce and caramelized onions.

It’s a bit different from the traditional veal sandwich that they serve at a place like California Sandwiches: rather than being dipped in the tomato sauce, the breaded, fried veal cutlet has the sauce spooned on top.

These types of sandwiches typically feature a smooth, blended sauce with a fairly mild flavour. The sauce here, on the other hand, is rich and chunky, with the intense flavour of a sauce that’s been reduced to its purest essence. It’s pretty fantastic, and pairs perfectly with the tender, perfectly fried cutlet.

The only misstep are the caramelized onions (and that’s my fault, since I was the one who chose them); though they were perfectly cooked and sweetly flavourful, they were a little bit too assertive and just got in the way of the outstanding interplay between the rich sauce and the crispy cutlet.

It’s mostly a take-out place, though they do have a small dining room off to the side. With the exposed concrete walls, the rustic wood tables, and the boar’s head mounted on the wall, it has a vaguely creepy vibe that made me think Leatherface was going to bust in at any moment, chainsaw roaring. But the sandwich was so good that this could have happened, and I still would have called the visit a win.

Boar - the sitting area

Canuck Pizza Truck

Canuck Pizza Truck
Location: Check their Twitter
Website: http://www.canuckpizzatruck.ca/

The Canuck Pizza Truck is one of the more eye-catching food trucks out there — it’s a 1946 Chevy Stovebolt, and it features a real, no-foolin’ wood-burning pizza oven. At first I thought that they had perhaps made a gas or electric oven look like a wood-burning one — but nope, you can peek inside and see the logs burning, so it’s the real deal.

They have a few different options, but I went with the Meat-za, which comes topped with bacon, sausage, and pepperoni. They sell by the slice for six bucks (which is a quarter of a pizza) or the whole pie for $23.

The pizza basically tastes like a cross between the Neapolitan style you find at places like Queen Margherita Pizza and Pizzeria Libretto and the cheesier, more traditionally North American style found at pizza joints everywhere.

It’s good. The cheese, sauce, and toppings are all pretty solid, and the wood-burning oven gives the crust a satisfyingly crispy/chewy texture that you can only get from an oven that hot. It’s not exactly the best pizza I’ve ever had, but if I find myself in the vicinity of this truck again, I’ll probably get another slice.

When I went, they were a bit disorganized (putting it mildly) and didn’t seem to have a much of a system for taking and delivering orders; it was a mess, but given that they’re a fairly new truck, I’ll cut them some slack on that.

Canuck Pizza Truck Canuck Pizza Truck

Momofuku Milk Bar

Momofuku Milk Bar, Toronto - Crack Pie
Location190 University Avenue, Toronto
Websitehttp://milkbarstore.com/main/toronto/

When the much-anticipated Momofuku opened its doors in Toronto a few months back, it was missing one key piece (in my sugar-addled, dessert-craving mind at least): the Milk Bar, where they serve up cookies, pastries, and perhaps most famously, Crack Pie.

That omission has finally been rectified, with all kinds of treats available in a walk-in closet-sized space on Momofuku’s second floor (all baked, oddly enough, in New York and shipped here on a daily basis).

What’s Crack Pie? it’s basically a sugar pie, or a butter tart without the raisins, or a pecan pie without the pecans. It’s nothing you haven’t had many times before, which makes its moniker a bit of an over-sell; it’s good, but I’m not going to be rushing out to have another one. It’s not quite as addictive as its name implies (and whether a small slice is worth six dollars is up for debate).

I will be back, however, to try some of their cookies, which are much more reasonably priced at two bucks each.

My favourite thing about the Crack Pie is probably the crust. Though the filling is quite tasty, if a bit overly sweet, the crust is pretty great. It’s dense and buttery, with a thin, crispy layer of caramelized sugar on the outside. It’s probably the closest thing to crack-like addictiveness in this pie.

Momofuku Milk Bar, Toronto - milk Momofuku Milk Bar, Toronto - the space Momofuku Milk Bar, Toronto - Crack Pie

Caplansky’s Delicatessen

Caplansky's - the meatloaf
Location: 356 College Street, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.caplanskys.com/

I remember the early days of Caplansky’s; before he opened his own place, it was just Zane Caplansky himself at the back of the Monarch, a sketchy old bar in Little Italy. Back then the smoked meat was truly something special: smoky, uniquely spiced, and unctuously tender. It could have easily gone toe-to-toe with the best smoked meat I’ve ever had, and I couldn’t get enough of it.

But then, Caplansky moved to his own place, and things started to very quickly go downhill. The quality of the meat was wildly inconsistent, and they started taking shortcuts — such as curing the meat via chemical injection rather than naturally — that would have been anathema back at the Monarch.

The sandwiches were, at their worst, so dry they sucked all the moisture out of your mouth. The fat was rubbery and unrendered. I got one sandwich with zebra-patterned swathes of uncured gray meat. I stopped going regularly.

Things seem to have evened out recently. The last couple of times I’ve gone, the sandwiches have been much more consistent — but consistently middling. They’re fine. They are perfectly edible sandwiches. They’re better than Druxy’s, but worse than pretty much every other place in the city making good smoked meat sandwiches. The days of smoked meat that was so incredibly amazing it made my knees buckle are long gone, sadly.

But all this time I’ve never bothered trying anything else on the menu. Smoked meat is obviously the specialty, but they do have a fairly decent selection of non-sandwiches. I figured I’d try the meatloaf, which is tantalizingly described on the menu as “10 oz. of fresh ground beef and our famous smoked meat seared top and bottom.”

Oh boy. I’m going to stick with the sandwiches.

Though the meatloaf tasted sort of okay, it had a repulsively mushy, baby-food-like texture that was truly horrifying. It tasted like they took a meatloaf, cooked it, crammed the whole thing into a blender with some liquid, then formed that mush into slices and served it.

As for the smoked meat, it may as well not have even been there. There were tiny little bacon-bit-sized flecks of smoked meat interspersed throughout, but if I hadn’t seen them, I wouldn’t have even known they were there. You couldn’t taste them.

The slices are glazed with a classic ketchup-based sauce, which was basically okay, if a bit cloyingly sweet and one-dimensional.

The meatloaf is served with some sauteed vegetables, which were fine, and your choice for the second side. I went with mashed potatoes, which were actually the highlight. They were creamy and slightly chunky, with a mild garlicky flavour.

Thinking about the food on the way home, I came to the somewhat shocking realization that the meatloaf here was probably the worst I’ve ever had. Cafeteria meatloaf is better. Heck, even the frozen stuff you get at the supermarket is better. The version at Caplansky’s was shockingly bad. I’d feel embarrassed serving food of this caliber to guests in my home, let alone to paying customers in a restaurant.

Caplansky's - the restaurant Caplansky's - the meatloaf

La Forchetta Ristorante at Taste of Little Italy

La Forchetta Ristorante at the Taste of Little Italy
Location: 613 College Street, Toronto (but it’s only served during Taste of Little Italy)
Websitehttp://laforchetta.ca/

The Taste of Little Italy street festival is a decent event for food — lots of interesting vendors, and generally some pretty good eats to be had. However, every year there’s one clear highlight, and that’s the Risotto al Parmigiano Reggiano served up by La Forchetta Ristorante.

Oh man, that risotto. It’s pretty basic: it’s got some green onions for colour, sometimes some chopped asparagus (though I didn’t taste any this year) but it’s otherwise no-frills risotto. I think what really pushes it over the edge is the big wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano that they serve it in. The Italian cheese melts generously into the rice, giving it a luxurious richness, and a really satisfying, almost nutty flavour. As they serve it, they scrape the bottom of the wheel with the spoon, ensuring that each serving is as packed with cheese as possible. It’s seriously good.

La Forchetta Ristorante at the Taste of Little Italy La Forchetta Ristorante at the Taste of Little Italy