Choices, Choices, and More Choices at The SOS

The SOSLocation: 118 John Street, Toronto
Website: http://sospasta.ca/

I know that this is an odd complaint that most people probably won’t agree with, but I’ll admit that restaurants that offer a million different combinations kind of bug me.  If you’re going to do this, at least give me a few suggestions so I have an idea of what works well together.  How am I supposed to know which sauces compliment which pasta varieties?  And which toppings work best with those?  I’m not a chef.  Why are you getting me to do your job for you?  Do you want me to come into the kitchen and cook my meal as well?

The SOS

Which is to say that at The SOS they have 11 types of pasta, 10 sauces, 11 toppings, and absolutely no guidance on what goes best with what (at least not without asking the cashier and holding up the line like a jerk, which I didn’t particularly care to do).

The SOS

Thankfully they have a daily special; on this particular day it was panko-crusted mac and cheese, which I obviously ordered.

The SOS

It’s quite tasty.  The pasta is perfectly al dente, and the sauce is incredibly rich and creamy, with a mild cheesy flavour.  The crispy panko offers a nice bit of texture.  It’s slightly underseasoned, and nothing about it rocked my world, but it’s a solid bowl of mac and cheese.

More Delicious Pasta at Shiso Tree Cafe

Shiso Tree CafeLocation: 3160 Steeles Avenue East, Markham
Website: https://www.facebook.com/ShisoTree/

I mentioned recently that I generally prefer checking out restaurants I haven’t tried over revisiting ones I have.  There are, however, exceptions to that rule, such as: Shiso Tree Cafe, a restaurant that fuses Japanese and Italian cuisine with some seriously delicious results.

On this visit I had the shoyu mushroom spaghetti: “shimeji, enoki, king oyster mushrooms in mentsuyu butter sauce.”

Shiso Tree Cafe

It’s so good.  It looks a little bit dry in the photo; a lot of the sauce is at the bottom of the bowl, but once you mix it up, it becomes creamy and amazing (and the sauce is rich enough to cling perfectly to the pasta — there wasn’t any left in the bowl when the spaghetti was done).

It has an incredibly satisfying buttery/savoury flavour, and the various types of mushrooms add a nice variety of textures and flavours.  It’s a top-notch bowl of pasta.

Shiso Tree Cafe

It’s also an incredible deal; every pasta on their lunch menu costs twelve bucks and comes with a salad, soup, and a slice of garlic bread.  The salad looks a little sad, but features a sesame-infused dressing that’s a cut above the standard Japanese-inspired salad dressing you’re expecting.  The creamy seafood soup is rich, flavourful, and packed with tasty chunks of seafood — it’s way better than a free soup has any right to be.  The garlic bread is quite tasty, too.

Descendant: Still Some of the Best Pizza in the City

Descendant PizzaLocation: 1168 Queen Street East, Toronto
Website: http://descendantdsp.com/

Though I generally like to visit places I haven’t tried when I eat out, exceptions have to be made.  Especially in the case of a restaurant serving food as great as Descendant, which makes superb Detroit-style pizza.  It’s a strong contender for the best pizza in the city.

And yeah, it’s still great.

I tried a couple of pizzas — the Gatt-Daddy (“house made fennel sausage, Mama Lil’s Peppers, red onion, sauce, basil aioli, fresh parsley & basil”) and the Jaffna (“kothu roti, mango chutney, cilantro cream, green onion, Calabrian chilis, fresh cilantro, coconut sambol”).

Descendant Pizza

Orrdering a pizza as bizarrely topped as the Jaffna might be a dicey proposition at a lesser pizza joint — but Descendant is not a lesser pizza joint.  Aside from making technically superb pizzas, Descendant does an amazing job of taking seemingly bizarre flavour combos and doing something special with them.  The Jaffna is sweet, spicy, savoury, and tangy in all the best ways.

The Gatt-Daddy is more traditional, and of course, they knock it out of the park.

Descendant Pizza

It helps that the pizza itself is so good — the crust is delightfully crispy on the bottom, and dense enough to hold up to the voluminous toppings while still being delightfully fluffy and amazing.  It’s a balancing act, and one that Descendant pulls of beautifully.

And of course, there’s that Detroit-style pizza trademark — the ring of dark, crispy goodness around the pizza where the cheese has come into contact with the square pan.  It’s so good.

Perfectly Crispy Cannoli at Holy Cannoli

Holy CannoliLocation: Follow them on Instagram to see where they’ll be
Website: https://www.holy-cannoli.com/

There’s nothing sadder than biting into a cannoli only to find that its would-be crispy exterior has been rendered soft and chewy by the ravages of time.

Holy Cannoli, which had a booth at the recent OssFest street festival, avoids this problem quite definitively by filling their cannoli shells to order.  This is clearly the way to do it.  I don’t know why every bakery doesn’t do it this way.

Holy Cannoli

So of course, the shell was nice and crispy, just as it should be.  It’s crispy but not overly crunchy — it’s basically the perfect cannoli shell.

You can choose from either chocolate chip or vanilla filling; I went with the latter, and it was creamy, sweet, and tasty.  Nothing about it particularly jumped out as being amazing, but it was a solid cannoli.

A Simple (but Delicious) Sandwich at Mattachioni

MattachioniLocation: 1617 Dupont Street, Toronto
Website: http://www.mattachioni.com/

If it weren’t for Toronto Life’s list of the best sandwiches in the city, there’s no way I would have ordered the mortadella sandwich at Mattachioni.  Aside from the fact that the pizzas looked very, very good, the mortadella sandwich is quite bare bones — it’s just mortadella and fresh mozzarella on tomato focaccia bread.

Mattachioni

But of course, sometimes the simplest things are the best.  If you’re dealing with really good quality ingredients, less is more.

The contrast between the tender, salty mortadella and the creamy mozzarella works really well (fresh mozzarella has a radically different texture than the rubbery shrink-wrapped balls at the supermarket — it’s soft, creamy, and luxurious).

Mattachioni

The fluffy, slightly chewy focaccia is quite good too, though I wish it had a bit more texture (it was soft throughout).  It was also soaked through with olive oil; it gives the sandwich a nice greasy heft, though it might have been a little bit too much of a good thing.

Still, it’s a very tasty sandwich.  I don’t think I’d put it on my list of the best in the city, but I don’t begrudge anyone for putting it on theirs.

Mattachioni

I also got to try a little bit of the Margherita pizza, which was absolutely outstanding (I didn’t take a picture of that one, sadly, so you’ll just have to take my word that it looked and tasted amazing).

Mattachioni

They have both custard and dulce de leche bomboloni for dessert (a.k.a. Italian doughnuts).  I tried both, and while they were tasty, they definitely weren’t on the level of the sandwich or the pizza.  They were a little bit too dense, with a slightly oily flavour.