Tasty Arepas at Maiz

MaizLocation: 3220 Yonge Street, Toronto
Websitehttps://maizlatinfood.ca/

Maiz is a new-ish Latin joint on Yonge street with a variety of tacos, burritos, and arepas on their menu.

I tried an arepa and quite enjoyed it, but the menu is clearly hit-and-miss.  I went with a group of four; two of us got arepas and enjoyed them mightily.  The other two got a burrito and a veggie bowl and found them to be mediocre at best.

Maiz

So who knows!  I can’t remember the last time I went to a restaurant where the group was so sharply divided, but the only thing I tried was the arepa, and it was quite tasty.

Specifically, I tried the adobo arepa, which features a whole bunch of braised pork crammed into a toasty arepa (which is a thick corn flatbread traditionally served in Columbia and Venezuela) and topped with pineapple.

Maiz

The pork was delicious; it had a zippy flavour from the adobo marinade and a very mild kick.

The texture was great –it was shredded, but not too finely, with a nice mix of lean and fatty pieces.  And it had obviously been crisped up on a griddle, with crispy pieces throughout.

The pineapple chunks were a bit too large, and the arepa itself wasn’t as fresh as I would have liked, but all in all it was a tasty dish.

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.

Mediocre Tacos at Wilbur Mexicana

Wilbur MexicanaLocation: 552 King Street West, Toronto
Websitehttp://wilburmexicana.com/

Wilbur is one of those places with a perpetual line out the door, and having just tried it for the first time, I’m not sure why.

That’s not to say it was bad. I just had two tacos, and they were both fine.  But in a city as suffused with taco joints as Toronto, “fine” isn’t much.

Wilbur Mexicana

I will say that their hot sauce selection is impressive.  They have a few dozen bottles to choose from, not to mention a bunch of homemade sauces as well.  If you want to add some spice to your taco, I can guarantee you’ll find something that strikes your fancy.

I tried a couple of tacos: al pastor (“pork, grilled pineapple, onion, cilantro”) and bulgogi (“Korean beef, cabbage, pear, sriracha, sesame seeds”).

Wilbur Mexicana

I was most excited to try the al pastor, which is essentially Mexico’s take on the shawarma.  But there were none of the crispy bits you associate with shawarma; it was just dry, personality-free lean pork brought to dessert levels of sweetness thanks to whatever they marinated it in and the pineapple.

It came on a corn tortilla that was dry, crumbly, and stale.  A note to all restaurants serving corn tortillas: cook them fresh or GTFO.

Wilbur Mexicana

The bulgogi, surprisingly enough, was way better.  It was also quite sweet, but it had some savoury complexity to round things out.  The beef was a little bit dry, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as the pork.

The tacos came with a handful of tortilla chips on the side.  They were a huge upgrade over store-bought; they were way better than the tacos.

Roasted Pineapple Ice Cream at Bang Bang

Bang BangLocation93a Ossington Avenue, Toronto
Websitehttp://bangbangicecream.com/

I’ve already written about Bang Bang a couple of times on this blog, so I sort of figured I wouldn’t be writing about it again.  I mean, I could happily make this blog all Bang Bang all the time — it’s the greatest, and anyone who says otherwise is dead to me — but that might get a bit monotonous.

No one needs a few dozen posts that all amount to “hey, this new flavour at Bang Bang, it’s also delicious!”

But… hey, this new flavour at Bang Bang, it’s also delicious!

The roasted pineapple flavour at Bang Bang is so good that I have to post about it.  I must.  It’s too good.

It’s got the usual creamy, rich amazingness that you expect from Bang Bang’s ice cream, but it’s the flavour that really puts it over the top into crazy good territory.

I normally don’t even like fruity ice cream all that much, but this one is something special.  It has such an amazing roasty pineapple flavour; it’s obvious that the fruit has been intensely caramelized.  If you’re looking for something light and tart and refreshing, look elsewhere.  This has a really deep, rich flavour that’s perfectly balanced by the creamy ice cream.  It’s perfect.  It’s honestly one of the best scoops I’ve ever had.