Quality Pasta (and Even Better Dessert) at Terroni

TerroniLocation: 1095 Yonge Street, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.terroni.com/

I didn’t think it was possible to be offended by a bread plate, but Terroni proved me wrong.

The bread plate at Terroni costs six dollars.  And fine — I understand that restaurant margins are dangerously thin, and that charging for bread is increasingly becoming a thing.

Terroni

The issue is that the plate comes with three tiny, dried-out slices of over-toasted white bread with a few drops of olive oil sprinkled on, four pieces of taralli (which is essentially an Italian breadstick), a small handful of olives, and… that’s it.  No butter, no olive oil, just mediocre bread and a few olives.  For six bucks.  Get the hell out of here with that.

Terroni

Thankfully, the rest of the meal was much better.

I had the Garganelli Geppetto, which is a pasta dish that comes with “dandelions, homemade spicy italian sausage, fontina, parmigiano, extra-virgin olive oil.”

Terroni

A dish like this is a bit of a tightrope walk — the “sauce” is essentially oil, so it’s going to be somewhat greasy by default.  But this one goes a bit too far, and feels oilier than it should be.

Still, it’s a tasty dish — the sausage is above average and has a mild spicy bite; the cheese adds a good amount of saltiness and a mild funk, not to mention some gooey meltiness; and the pasta itself is perfectly cooked and satisfying.  It’s good stuff.

Terroni

I can’t remember the name of the dessert and I can’t find it on the menu online, but it was essentially a croissant filled with Nutella, hazelnut gelato, and whipped cream.  It was easily the highlight of the meal.  It was shockingly delicious; the Nutella and the creamy gelato (which adds even more hazelnut flavour) go amazingly well together, and the tasty croissant is a perfect vehicle.

Ice cream cones are officially dead to me — I want all my ice cream in a croissant from now on.

Top-Notch Gelato at Piccolina Gelato

Piccolina GelatoLocation: 85 Portland Street, Toronto
Websitehttps://piccolina-gelato-e-altra-roba.business.site/

Piccolina Gelato is a tiny little ice cream shop (it’s about the size of a large walk-in closet) that sells gelato and soft serve ice cream.

Maybe it’s because it’s such a small and unassuming space, but my expectations weren’t particularly high.

I was pretty blown away by how good it was.

Piccolina Gelato

I had the chocolate hazelnut, and man, it was good.  It was maybe a touch too sweet, but aside from that it was first-class gelato.

The texture was amazing — it was rich, silky, and incredibly creamy.  It was profoundly satisfying, and certainly, right up there with the best in the city in that regard.

The flavour was almost as good.  It had a very assertive chocolate/hazelnut flavour that was quite Nutella-esque.  It also had a very generous amount of nut pieces and chocolate chips that helped to amp up the flavour and the texture.

Honestly, aside from the sweetness thing (a minor complaint), everything about it was great.  I really, really enjoyed it.

Problematic Gelato at Kekou Gelato

Kekou GelatoLocation: 394 Queen Street West, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.kekou.ca/

Though ice cream and gelato joints serving Asian-inspired flavours seem to be popping up on an almost weekly basis, I’m pretty sure Kekou is the OG.  It might not be the pioneer in the city, but it was definitely one of the first.

They have a variety of unique flavours like black sesame, Vietnamese coffee, and durian (and they must also be doing other things with durian, because the place kinda reeks of the stuff).

Kekou Gelato

I went with rosewater pistachio, and the flavour was superb.  The balance between the nutty pistachio and the fragrant rosewater was just right; neither flavour overwhelmed the other, and they complimented each other perfectly.

The texture, however, was a bit of an issue.  It wasn’t icy, but it had a thin mouthfeel and a distinct lack of creaminess that was unsatisfying.

Kekou Gelato

The funny thing is, they actually have a sign up in the store explaining that the thin texture is intentional — it is, they claim, a side-effect of the gelato’s lack of stabilizers.

A couple of things about this:

1)

2) Even if this is true — that it’s impossible to make creamy gelato without the use of stabilizers, and that every luxuriously creamy gelato I’ve ever had (both here and in Italy) used some form of chemical magic for its rich texture — then maybe stabilizers are just part of making high quality gelato?

Again, I’m skeptical that this is the case, but I’m sure that making truly great gelato is a skill that takes years to master.  If your gelato-making know-how isn’t advanced enough to make it creamy without using stabilizers, then here’s an idea: use stabilizers.  Is the ability to smugly claim that your gelato is stabilizer-free really worth selling a subpar product?

It’s not a huge deal — and I’ve certainly had worse — but the fact that they’re coming right out and admitting that they’re selling inferior gelato on purpose is a little bit frustrating.

Gelato Disappointment at La Viziatta

La VizziataLocation: 2470 Yonge Street, Toronto
Website: None

La Viziatta might be the oddest gelato shop I’ve ever been to.  It’s inside a video game store.

I don’t mean that they’re neighbours, or that they sell gelato on one floor and games on another.  I mean that it’s a video game store with a gelato counter.

La Vizziata

But sure, why not?  I’m sure the costs to operate a business in a high-traffic spot like  Yonge and Eglinton are quite high.  So if you can split them with someone else, you may as well go for it.

And they have an interesting assortment of flavours, including the one that brought me here: peanut butter and jelly.

La Vizziata

Sadly, it’s not nearly as amazing as you’d hope.  The gelato isn’t particularly creamy, the peanut butter flavour is fairly anemic, and the “jelly” is actually an overly sweet syrup rather than jam or jelly.  None of the elements are particularly offensive — I ate it all, and if you put another cup in front of me I’d eat that too — but nothing is as tasty as it should be.

Of course, it’s hard not to compare it to the PB and J flavour at Bang Bang, which is almost unfair — that might just be one of the best scoops of ice cream that I’ve ever had.  It’s the exact opposite of what they’re serving here: it’s super rich, it has an intense peanut butter flavour, and the balance with the jam is absolutely perfect.

Middling Gelato at Ed’s Real Scoop

Ed's Real ScoopLocation: 189 Roncesvalles Avenue, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.edsrealscoop.com/

I’ve mentioned before that I quite like Ed’s Real Scoop, but that really, their sweet cream is where it’s at.  It’s outstanding.  Their other flavours are disappointingly hit-and-miss.

But in all my dozens of visits to the place over the years, I’ve never bothered to try their gelato.  This is going to be a short post — more of a PSA than anything else — because it’s not very good.  I’d advise that you stick to the ice cream.  Specifically, stick to the sweet cream.

I tried the pistachio and the bacio (chocolate hazelnut), and both of the flavours were pretty weak.  There just wasn’t much there, other than a generic sweetness.  This tends to be an issue with their ice cream, too, but at least in that case they’re starting with a great quality base.

Alas, the gelato itself was thin and underwhelming, with barely any creaminess at all.  It’s a waste of time when the ice cream is right there.