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Romagna Mia or Zucca?

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7lnw Jul 13, 2009 07:50 PM

Which of these two is better to go for dinner?

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    topbanana RE: 7lnw Jul 13, 2009 07:56 PM

    Zucca gets my vote. I've only been to Romagna Mia once, and while the food was very, very good and the service attentive, the restaurant was nearly empty, which always makes me feel slightly uneasy. Zucca, in addition to offering excellent food, is also more lively (but not at all loud or bustling). . . for what it's worth.

    1. p
      phoenikia RE: 7lnw Jul 13, 2009 08:14 PM

      They are very different.

      If you want rich, traditional Northern Italian food prepared in the kitchen of a chef from Northern Italy, go to Romagna Mia. http://www.romagna-mia.com/aboutus.ph...

      If you want lighter, more innovative/contemporary Italian food prepared in the kitchen of a chef from New Zealand, go to Zucca. http://www.torontolife.com/features/i...

      I loved my first dinner at Zucca, but found my second dinner at Zucca to be lacklustre (it was a Sunday night, so I will cut the kitchen some slack), but I haven't been back. Have been meaning to, but it hasn't happened yet.

      While I liked my only dinner at Romagna Mia, I haven't been back, mostly because I don't tend to choose to eat at what I consider to be traditional Italian restaurants unless I'm dining with someone who really likes traditional Italian food. For traditional Italian food in TO, I like the food at Trattoria da Gianni e Maria more than the food at Romagna Mia.

      1. w
        wickalicious RE: 7lnw Jul 13, 2009 08:25 PM

        I would agree - Zucca. I enjoyed Romagna Mia the two times I went, but somehow it just always seemed excessive (which I recognize is not necessarily a bad thing in some folks' books, but there is a point at which I yell, 'Enough already! No more gilding of lillies!'.

        As it happens, I was at Zucca tonight. Ended up ordering the Summerlicious menu, although wasn't initially planning to, but it had two items on it that intrigued me. I started with the scalcione (essentially an olive oil pastry stuffed with savory sauteed summer greens), served with a marinated cauliflower salad that had a bit of a sweet-and-sour thing going on, and included raisins and capers. it was a lovely dish - not earth shattering, but nice flavours that worked well together. the 'summer greens' were cavolo nero (tuscan black kale), sauteed with some garlic - very tasty.

        the big winner, hands down, was my main - pappardelle with rabit ragu and black olives. ohhhhh - so good. the pasta was excellent...perfectly cooked with just a nice bit of chew to it. this man truly seems to have a gift when it comes to pasta...i think even my dear sainted nonna would have been impressed. the rabit ragu was appropriately rich and wine-y. i was surprised to find that the olives were such a nice counterpoint - they were small italian purple ones, with pits, and provided a really nice note of saltiness without being overbearing. i'm typically not a fan of olives at all, but they really worked in this dish.

        the dessert was one of the things i was intrigued by - mini calzones stuffed with chick peas, chocolate, grape must and some honey. unfortunately, these didn't blow me away...texture sort of reminded me of those mitteleuropean desserts filled with ground nuts that aren't terribly sweet. not bad, just not exciting. the friend i was dining with, however, kindly shared her dessert which i enjoyed much more - it was a moist sponge cake served with sweetened ricotta and fresh cherries - simple, clean flavours, and i loved it.

        what i like about this place is the menu is always seasonal and varied...there's always something new to try, and even if one of the unfamiliar things doesn't necessarily knock my socks off, there's always something in the meal that does. i appreciate the creativity and the solid technique here - i've never had anything that was cooked badly, and often find something that is sublime.

        1. icey RE: 7lnw Jul 14, 2009 06:40 AM

          In all fairness, I have yet to go to Zucca, but I really do love Romagna Mia. I had my wedding there in January and it was superb. But for their regular menu, I love that it changes slightly everytime I go there, and I find that the salumi that the owner makes are absolutely delicious.
          The pastas are great and they are really known for their risottos, but I completely agree with wickalicious, as their food tends to be quite rich and large portions.

          1. j
            julesrules RE: 7lnw Jul 14, 2009 07:13 AM

            Depends what you are looking for. I felt more pampered at Romagna Mia.The restaurant was dead however - it was just before the start of Summerlicious last year, actually. That didn't bother us, we sat on the patio with one other table occupied and stayed quite late without even noticing we were keeping the staff hanging around. While they do have seasonal offerings, I notice they have the same asparagus risotto on the Summerlicious menu as last year (for example) - my feeling is that they stick to tried and true dishes.
            Zucca was very comfortable too but not the same pampered feeling for me. It does feel more modern, lively, etc. They do experiment more with the menu and I think there are hits and misses. I was excited about all the creative desserts for example, but none of them were stellar from what I tasted. We had the prix fixe that is available early in the week.

            1. Googs RE: 7lnw Jul 14, 2009 07:17 AM

              I'll echo phoenika's sentiments in that it really depends if you're seeking northern or southern cuisine. That said, Romagna Mia has never been the same to me since the original owner passed away. There are places with more soul as phoenika so rightly points out.

              Zucca is creative northern-styled Italian made with local, seasonal ingredients. This is no bangwagon to chef. He has always dedicated himself to the art of what I like to call New World Italian. Make sure you avoid going on a Sunday and you will certainly have a great meal.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Googs
                icey RE: Googs Jul 14, 2009 07:22 AM

                Hi Googs, I'm just curious, who was the original owner of Romagna Mia? I was always under the impression that Gabriele Paganelli started it, and he's still alive, so I am assuming my info is wrong.
                Also, just to clarify for others, as it seems that you alluded to Romagna Mia being Southern Italian...it is in fact Northern Italian cuisine.

                1. re: icey
                  Googs RE: icey Jul 14, 2009 07:32 AM

                  I stand corrected. You're absolutely right. Both restos are Northern cuisine. I guess I gapped for a moment. Stressful day.

                  1. re: Googs
                    d
                    DrewStar RE: Googs Jul 14, 2009 08:58 AM

                    I wouldn't say Zucca is strictly a northern Italian restaurant. Andrew Milne-Allan's menu partakes of all the Italian regions, for example the amuse of farinata is from Liguria, the grissini are from Lombardia, the polenta is from Trentino. All northern regions so far. In general though I'd say his main focus tilts towards the south particularly the simply grilled whole fish with herbs, or the fish specials which are often paired with a sauce like a salmoriglio from Sicily made with lemon, olive oil, garlic and oregano. There is much use of bold ingredients like capers, rasins, pine nuts, olives, sweet and sour preparations, etc which are emblematic of the southern end of the boot.

                    1. re: DrewStar
                      Googs RE: DrewStar Jul 14, 2009 03:07 PM

                      It's clear I shouldn't post when stressed. Thanks for pointing that out.

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