Hit-or-Miss Pizza at Nonna’s Oven

Nonna's OvenLocation: 1285 Elgin Mills Road East, Richmond Hill
Websitehttp://www.nonnasoven.com/

Nonna’s Oven is an Italian joint specializing in pizza (they also have pasta and sandwiches, though the pizza seems to be the main attraction) with locations in Richmond Hill and Oakville.  It’s not bad, but it’s probably not worth going out of your way for.

Nonna's Oven

We started with the frittura mista — a plate piled high with deep fried chunks of calamari, cuttlefish, shrimp, scallops, and whitefish.  This was mostly pretty good, though the squid was rubbery (everything was a bit overcooked) and the cuttlefish had an unpleasantly fishy funk.

Still, it’s hard to go wrong with anything that’s battered and deep fried, especially when the batter is as light and crispy as it is here.

Nonna's Oven

The pizzas were a bit of a mixed bag.  The first was the Margherita Italiana (“homemade tomato sauce, topped with fior di late cheese, fresh basil and light drizzled olive oil”).  The thing about a margherita pizza is that it’s so incredibly simple that if all the elements aren’t on point (the crust in particular), then it’s not going to be particularly good.

And the crust is definitely an issue here; it’s ultra thin and crispy, with absolutely no substance outside of a crispy crunch.  It’s basically like eating tomato sauce and cheese on a really bland cracker.  It’s not great.

Nonna's Oven

The Hawaiian Inferno pizza (“pineapple, bacon, onion and hot banana peppers”) was definitely the better of the two.  The more cheese- and topping-heavy pizza helped to compensate for the bland, crackery crust, and the toppings all worked pretty well together.

In the case of both pizzas, the real MVP was the jar of fiery chili oil they had on the table.  It had little bits of hot peppers, and if you got a heaping spoonful of the peppers and the oil, it really kicked things up and helped to make everything a bit more interesting.

Decent Eats at Olde Yorke Fish & Chips

Olde York Fish & ChipsLocation: 96 Laird Drive, Toronto
Websitehttps://oldeyorkefishandchips.com/

Everyone loves fish and chips, don’t they?  It’s one of those universally appealing meals that’s hard to truly hate.  I mean, it’s a big old plate of deep fried goodness.

But it’s surprisingly difficult to find a place that does it really well (without a plane ticket to the UK, at least).  It’s such a simple dish, but sometimes the simplest meals are the toughest to pull off.  It’s just fish and batter; if your technique isn’t perfect, there’s nowhere to hide.

Olde York Fish & Chips

I got the haddock and chips from Olde York, and while it was certainly tasty, there were a couple of things holding it back from being much better than okay.

A lot of fish and chips joints tend drop the ball with the batter itself; so many places over-apply it, resulting in a thick and crunchy shell that overwhelms the fish.  And while Olde York isn’t the worst offender in this regard, the batter was definitely too substantial.

Olde York Fish & Chips

It’s also easy to overcook the fish, and alas, that was an issue here as well.  It wasn’t too blatant, but it was dryer than it should have been.

I don’t want to make this a complain-a-thon, because I actually did enjoy it… but the fries could have been crispier and the tartar sauce was way too sweet.

But that’s the thing about fish and chips: even when it’s not perfect, it’s still so satisfying.

Japanese Domination Continues at Koi Koi Sake Bar

Koi Koi Sake BarLocation: 170 Baldwin Street, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.koikoibar.com/

Joining places like Little Pebbles, Sakoshi Mart, and Millie Creperie, the Japanese domination of this stretch of Kensington Market continues with Koi Koi Sake Bar, which features a tasty selection of Japanese eats.  I, for one, welcome our new Japanese overlords.

I tried a few things.  First up was a nice little snack that every table gets by default.  I meant to ask what these were and completely forgot, but they were crunchy, savoury, and a little bit sweet.

Koi Koi Sake Bar

Next up was the katsu sando, which is a fried pork sandwich topped with a generous amount of mayo and tangy tonkatsu sauce, with some romaine lettuce for added crunch and freshness.  It’s a solid sandwich, though the pork was overcooked (I had a hard time even biting through it in parts).

Koi Koi Sake Bar

The miso nasu followed, which is a dish consisting of grilled, miso-glazed eggplant.  It feels like it’s missing something (a crunchy counterpoint to the soft eggplant, perhaps?), but it’s enjoyable enough; it basically tastes like they distilled the flavour of miso soup into a glaze and then brushed it onto an eggplant.

Koi Koi Sake Bar

The last dish was the bacon fried rice, which food writer David Ort called “possibly the best fried rice [he’s] ever had.” This is mostly what made me want to come here.

Koi Koi Sake Bar

I’m not sure if it’s the best I’ve ever had, but it was definitely top-shelf fried rice, with a nice meatiness from the generous bacon and a satisfying level of crispiness from the fried garlic slices.  The creamy mayo on top was a nice touch.

Tasty Greek Doughnuts at Loukoumania Cafe

Loukoumania CafeLocation: 3120 Rutherford Road, Vaughan
Websitehttp://www.loukoumania.ca/

You can’t go wrong with doughnuts.  Let’s face it: pretty much any time you fry dough and then add sugar to it, it’s going to be good.

So of course, most countries have their own take on the doughnut, because again: you cannot go wrong.  Literally cannot.

Greece’s version is called loukoumades, which is essentially a doughnut hole that’s been tossed in honey and seasoned with cinnamon.  It’s great (at least if the version they serve at Loukoumania Cafe is anything to go by).

Loukoumania Cafe

I actually liked it a lot more than I was expecting to (and I was expecting to like it).  The loukoumades were hot and fresh, with a pronounced outer layer of crispiness.  The contrast between the crispy exterior and the fluffy, chewy interior was extremely satisfying.

The flavour was great too, with the perfect amount of honey; it’s nice and sweet, but not overwhelmingly so.  And the cinnamon takes it over the top.  It’s fantastic.

Loukoumania Cafe

They have various sauces and toppings you can add to your loukoumades, but since they’re so great on their own, this seems superfluous.  You also have the option to get them on top of ice cream.  I did this (because I can’t say no to ice cream); it was a huge mistake.

I won’t even mince words: the ice cream was flat-out horrible.  It was cloyingly sweet and thin, with almost zero creaminess.  It was almost as bad as what I recently had at Kiss the Tiramisu, which is saying a lot.

The doughnuts are so good, though.  Just skip the ice cream and get more of them.

Fried Chicken Wing Perfection at Chica’s Chicken

Chica's ChickenLocation2853 Dundas Street West, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.facebook.com/chicaschicken/

Well, I’ve now tried everything on the menu at Chica’s Chicken, which means I can say the following with a reasonable amount of authority: it’s the best.  The literal best.

I honestly can’t recall having better fried chicken anywhere in the city.  It’s everything you’re looking for: it’s got that amazing crispy crunch, it’s so damn tasty, and the chicken itself is ridiculously moist.  Perfection.

Chica's Chicken

I got the wings this time; an order comes with four giant wings, and it’s an absurd amount of food.  They don’t cut the wings into segments like most places — it feels like a pain at first, but it gives you more of that crispy, crunchy skin.

You also get a side, and two slices of plain white bread.  For 16 bucks, it’s a absolute steal considering the quantity and quality of the food.

Chica's Chicken

Sorry, every other chicken wing I’ve ever had: you’re absolute garbage compared to what Chica’s is serving.

I got it hot AF; as on my previous visits, they aren’t kidding around with the heat.  It hurts so good.

I think I’m ready to install a cot in the back of the restaurant so that I can eat all my meals here.  Will I die of a massive heart attack by my 40th birthday?  Probably.  Will it be worth it?  Absolutely.