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Jul 19, 2007 02:11 PM

Lil' Baci - Leslieville

An earlier thread referred to the new spot under construction next door to Kubo Radio. It’s LIL’ BACI and it opened last Sunday although it was closed for a couple of days early this week while they got the air conditioning got straightened out.

A posting on the Naples Craigslist ( ) positions the place as a “New authentic Southern Italian restaurant… [using] …the finest ingredients money can buy.” You have to give them points for recruiting pizzaolos from the centre of the universe although there weren’t a lot of Southern Italians in the kitchen when I was there.

They offer about eight pies. Six or so antipasti. Four or five contorni. I didn’t have enough to eat during first brief visit to confidently judge the food especially since they have only been open a couple of days. What I did have was better than you’d find in similarly positioned Toronto places but a little below the average neighborhood place in Rome or Naples which probably makes it pretty good. Fairly high price point for this kind of food: 75-100$ range for two with wine but without tax or tip.

The place certainly has potential. A real effort to understand the origin of the foods they are offering. Palpable passion on the part of the servers, at least the couple I spoke with. And a wine list with an impressive range of only Italian bottles, almost all of which were under 40$.

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    1. re: childofthestorm

      Its gas from what I can see, although a more sophisticated unit than most. They seem to have thin crust technique right but their real strength is the quality of the ingredients.

    2. The original comment has been removed
      1. I went this evening and throughly enjoyed it. A genuinely solid attempt at the "neighbourhood Italian" with (as mentioned above) very good and fresh ingredients in great combinations. Highlights were the daily antipasti (eg, roasted brussels sprouts w/horseradish, beluga lentils). I also spotted the Berkel slicer in the kitchen, so I had to try the charcuterie: all very good.

        My pasta dish was delightful w/coppa, dandelion greens, and pine nuts. Very simply prepared but beautifully cooked. My wife's pizza was tasty, with a thin crispy crust and fresh toppings. I especially liked the fresh pepperoncini in oil offered to pep up the pie.

        We passed on dessert and only I had a couple glasses of Nero. Bill came to $69. I was particularly impressed by the chef (owner?) who came out to talk to the patrons, asking us if we'd enjoyed our meals and thanking us for our business. Servers were also very pleasant - always ready to offer a suggestion, but never in the way. And all in an unpretentious setting. The ploy seems to be working as the last table was taken right as we left.

        Great to have such an addition to the hood. We'll definitely be back!

          1. re: hungryabbey

            I was there last week, and recommend it. Food and service were both very good. Prices are reasonable; I think pizzas and pastas are in $12-$15 range. Meal for 2 was approximately $90 with taxes, tip and a bottle of wine. Will definitely return, hopefully soon.

            1. re: DRD

              Went to Lil Baci last night for dinner. We had tried last Friday but the place was packed and it was incredibly hot (apparently they are trying to work out the air conditioning). Not sure if the problem was resolved or if it was pleasant because it was a much cooler night.

              We both had pizza, which range in price from $9.95 to $14.95. We also had a half litre of Chianti and the bill without tip came to just under $60. The pizza was fresh and light and a substantial size.

              The servers were all friendly and helped each other out. It is nice to see a staff that actually looks like they enjoy where they work. The crowd was a mix of young professionals after work, on dates, families, - it was a nice relaxed vibe.

              Will be back regularly I am sure.

              1. re: professor plum

                Have to echo your review, went last weekend and had a very nice meal there... aside from a cranky baby of course. Pizzas were nice and thought the antipasto platter was excellent. We will definitely return.

                1. re: Vise

                  I agreed that this place has potential. The food are well priced and reasanable. But my pizzzzzza that night was way too salty. I had the mushroom/fungus pizza.

                  It was also quite delightful to see a family with kids, all by the window table of about 8 going about their meal in queen st east/south riverdale/leslieville.

          2. We went this past Saturday evening for my mom's 50th birthday. I tried to make a reservation for 6, but they told me they only made reservations for parties of 8 or more. Luckily, when we arrived around 7:30, there was a perfect table to fit us, although I think if we went any later we would have been in for a long wait.

            The place has a nice vibe, and is slightly loud from all the people chatting and having a good time, except this one young kid (maybe 5?) who was crying and told his mom "I hate this place!!" and wailing away which made us all giggle.

            We started with a selection of 5 antipasti, including calamari, roasted red peppers, citrus marinated olives, chick peas with tuna, and something else that I can't remember. :) There were I think 7 or 8 selections in total, and included a parsely root dish which I have never heard of before.

            For mains, 3 people got pizzas, two got a braised lamb shank dish, and one got a chicken dish. Everyone was happy with their selections except myself, but I chock it up to bad ordering on my part. I got a pizza special called "Stagione", and somehow failed to realize it was a white pizza, which I don't like. To me it seemed like I was eating a big piece of plain bread with 4 olives, 4 pieces of bresoala and some mushrooms. :) I tried the lamb, which was in a roast tomato sauce - very tender, and very simple in terms of spicing.

            Best of all was the service. I'm a huge Terroni fan (the edge on pizza's is still in Terroni's favor in my opinion - oh, and hot peppers), but I feel you're often rushed in and out of there. At Lil' Baci, our server (Doug? Donald? Can't remember.) did a fantastic job, paced the meal well, and was extremely professional. During the meal one of those people that sells roses (so anoying, lol) wandered in and amongst the tables, and at the end of the meal our server had bought one and gave it to my mom because he said he overheard it was her birthday. Cute.

            Prices are very reasonable. Antipasti selection, 6 mains, 1 bottle of wine, 2 beers, 2 soft drinks, 6 coffees of varying types and 1 dessert (I know - waiters hate that, but we were full), came to $236 before tip.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Tara9000

              Loved my night there as well...very fun dining experience and good quality food.