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Nov 23, 2010 08:26 AM

Fabricca Update

It appears that Mark McEwan reads Chowhound.
Fabbrica launched a new menu Saturday night and the much-criticized $3 charge for bread has been dropped. The menu has been tweaked as well with some of the more exotic items gone (no more sweetbreads) and prices lowered a bit as well.
We had made reservations weeks ago and decided to go ahead despite the tepid reviews the place has received on this board and in the Toronto press. I’m glad we did.
The food was very good and after a bit of a rough start, the staff went out of their way to make the evening enjoyable. When we first arrived they wanted to seat us in the bar area. We politely but firmly requested a table in the main part of the restaurant. After initially being told it would mean a wait of at least 30-40 minutes they found us a nice table within 10 minutes while we sipped on cocktails at the bar.
After that the service couldn’t have been better. Our engaging waitress kept a keen eye on us reporting on progress of dishes and making sure my wine glass was never empty for more than 30 seconds.
We started with fried smelts and Berkshire prosciutto. The smelts were fantastically fresh (although a little too aggressively salted) however the prosciutto (while nicely presented) lacked any distinctive “Berkshire” flavour that would have made it stand out from a regular breed.
The wood-fired oven was evident in the perfectly cooked lamb sausage and fennel pizza we shared. The dish is marked on the menu as a “chef’s favourite” and justifiably so.
Although the menu was brand new, we were told the “bistecca for two” was unavailable. While my wife went ahead with an individual striploin, I opted for another “chef’s favourite” in the braised short-rib which turned out to be one of the best braised rib dishes I have ever enjoyed.
Portion sizes are quite generous so by this point we were too full for dessert and finished the evening with a couple of lemoncellos (which would have been better in chilled glasses.)
Fabbrica is still far from perfect. Mark McEwan still needs to figure out if the restaurant is to be a dining destination in Don Mills or a trendy hangout serving $20 pizzas to twenty-somethings. However, I can confidently report that the restaurant is back on track after its shaky opening.

49 Karl Fraser Road, Toronto, ON M3C0E5, CA

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    1. What did the bill come out to?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Pincus

        About $250 before tip. That covered cocktails, a bottle of wine, two antipasti, 1 shared pizza, 2 mains and after dinner liqueurs.

      2. The original comment has been removed
        1. I'm sure McEwan paid more attention to the unanimous bad reviews from Kates, Pataki et al

          1. In the Star review McEwan is quotes as saying ~ “The cooking’s too involved for the average person. It’s meant to be entertaining, another layer of your story in their home and another connection between you,” he says.

            I am neither Italian or a Nonna, but Italian cooking is not that hard as McEwan suggests .... Being an "average person" I do all the Italian preserves ( eggplants, peppers, olives, etc.) and the involvement in making these or even a homemade pizza makes it all the more entertaining and exciting when you share it with friends and family (and the process of making it does not come close to $200) ....

            It just takes time .... But in the dead of winter, I'm certainly not going to drive to Fabbrica to get my $20 pizza and $38 beer .... I'm going to crack open a jar of preserves and make my own darn pizza .....

            2 Replies
            1. re: coach_house

              or better yet, go to Queen Margherita.

              1. re: coach_house

                I reread the review you are refrencing and she is talking about his cookbook not the food at fabricca when he says the food is too complicated for the average person.

                49 Karl Fraser Road, Toronto, ON M3C0E5, CA