Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Ontario (inc. Toronto) >
Jun 16, 2011 06:23 AM

Carpano - the new Negroni

I checked out the new space - the promised renovations were quite gentle. Same room, different paint and a whole new menu. Panini's are on the lunch menu, but the dinner menu has evolved into a more rounded offering. And, they've added more cocktails to it while keeping the ridiculously cheap wine. Now I can satisfy my craving for grilled quail and duck pate while watching the rich pageant of College St.

I've always enjoyed Negroni, I think I'm going to be enjoying Carpano that much more.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Has anyone eaten here? What's the word?

    1 Reply
    1. re: mikefly

      I'm wondering too. I haven't been since before the reno and would like to try the new menu out. I'll eventually get there, but as I don't live in Toronto, it could be a while before I get the chance. I'd love to hear some buzz. With so much posted when it was Negroni, I'm surprised that nobody from the Negroni threads has piped in yet regarding Carpano.

      I have to say that the name Carpano does not stick in mind or roll off the tongue like Negroni does/did.

    2. We had had an excellent meal here last night. Started with the Bruschetta which was super fresh and and finished with parmesan shavings, one of the best I've ever had. I got the special of the night which was a pasta carbonera which was excellent. The dish was served with an intact quail yolk on top. It was amazing and was a suprisingly light version of one of my favourite pasta dishes. My partner got the rapini pesto penne, had a kick of heat with some chili flakes in it, also excellent. Finished with the always fantastic peanut butter ice cream.

      I was a big fan of Negroni and really enjoy this even more. Both the steak and chicken paninis are now available on the dinner menu now. They've got a boroader cocktail list too. Not a big fan of negronis but had an excellent mojito to start things out.

      Sadly, like Negroni it was very quiet last night. At 8 on Saturday night there were only two other tables of diners there. This place is awesome and needs some love so please go check it out! The overall value here is just fantastic, service was great, looking forward to trying out the rest of the menu.

      Just a heads up, with the open kitchen in the middle you will smell like delicious food the rest of the night. Negroni had an issue early on where we'd always leave smelling like burnt toast but solved it with some added ventilation. The food all smells amazing but probably wouldn't choose to dine here if doing something social after. We were just going to movie at The Royal so wasn't an issue.

      5 Replies
      1. re: abigllama

        I went with a friend on Friday night, it was the first time for both of us. She had the carbonara and really enjoyed it. I started with the chilled soup (essentially a gaspacho with scallops and shrimp) which was nice. Then I was supposed to have the steak sandwich but when I bit into it realized that they had given me a chicken panini instead.

        The server was great though, she said they'd make the steak sandwich right away and asked if I wanted to keep the chicken to nibble on in the meantime, or have it packed up. I was pretty impressed, usually places just take away the incorrect menu item, I don't think I've ever been offered the choice of snacking on it or packing it. The steak sandwich was awesome (definitely better than the chicken, which is kind of boring). Then I overstuffed myself with chocolate and peanut butter ice cream. The chocolate was unimpressive but the peanut butter was delicious! The cocktails we tried were decent.

        I'd definitely go back to Carpano again (which I will still continue to call Negroni because I can never remember Carpano lol) but I don't think I'd want to eat inside because I think you'll really come out smelling strongly of food (we sat on the patio). Place was pretty much empty when we went, which is unfortunate - all the food seems quite good, service was good and cost was pretty moderate. My friend and I went to Sidecar once and we both liked Negroni a lot more - we had the Sidecar prix fixe and our dishes were either unmemorable or bad.

        1. re: ggom1

          The panini at the late, lamented Negroni were a favorite of mine, so I thought I'd give Carpano a whirl, if only to see what has changed. Happily, the six-ounce glasses of Italian house white and red are still available, though the price has bumped from $5 to $6 - still an acceptable price for a tasty plonk. You can't hardly find a decent house wine at that price anymore. There are just two lonely panini on the dinner menu, though the staff indicated there would be two more shortly. Like ggom1 above, I thought the chicken panini could use more zip. Flavored mayo is a wonderful thing - when it's used.

          At the moment, Carpano is a two-person operation at dinner during the week.. An agreeable waitress, and a chef delivering the limited menu of basic Italian pastas and such from behind the bar in the middle of the room. Modest prices (for College St.), like Negroni had. Two should be able to get out for $70-$75, all in, with two starters, two mains, splitting a dessert, and two glasses of house wine. That's about half what you'd rack up at the fancier joints across the street. Which may explain the clientele: mostly groups of young women who seem to be watching their pennies. Aside from the panini, which was acceptable enough, the food was good - the spaghetti and meatballs especially - though I miss the distinctive side salad that used to come with the panini at Negroni. I guess panini alone wasn't enough to attract volume, which explains the menu changes. Though the volume has yet to come. It's still more a casual neighborhood spot than a destination, with a pleasant, easy-going vibe.

          P.S. I didn't notice any cooking smells.

          1. re: juno

            Oh, pooh, I loved the salad they served with the panini -- what do they serve on the side now?

            1. re: TorontoJo

              On the side of the panini now, they offer a vague kissing cousin of the previous panini side salad. Now it's chick peas, tomatoes, a lettuce-like something, that sort of bland thing - not much like the original, which was distinctly tasty, with a pleasantly bitter aftertaste (if I recall correctly after all these months). The new offering is acceptable enough. Perhaps the original side salad is on offer on the menu separately. I didn't look. I got the feeling that the new menu is evolving, and that if enough customers voice bewilderment at some of the changes, some items may return to their previous glory. The trouble with being too distinctive, as most everyone knows, is that in doing so you appeal to only a select following. Not a good idea with a somewhat low-priced resto on high-rent College St., where you need enough volume to stay afloat. So ownership is obliged to tweak the menu. Mind, if you're in the neighborhood, the joint is still an agreeable low-priced respite near Bathurst and College St. Just not distinctive enough - aside from those six-ounce $6 glasses of house wine.

          2. re: ggom1

            We have similar issues with the name"Carpano", and can't remember it. Also have stuck to calling it "the old Negroni" as well. Very odd. Ran into some friends that were asking about College West dining, and neither one of us could remember the name just a couple of days after being there.

        2. My SO and I went there last night. for dinner. Started with the Bruschetta ($7). It was so delicious! Made with their panini bread, with loads of garlic (if you don't like garlic, this is not the dish for you), lots of finely diced fresh tomatoes on top and a hint of fresh basil. Perfect for sharing. I had the wild mushroom risotto with truffle oil ($16). It was very rich and flavorful but a bit on the heavy side. My SO had the pork belly panini ($12), which I think is a new addition to their panini menu. It was put together very well, with a large standard Negroni salad. The pork belly had a great bbq sauce on it - not too sweet and not too spicy, and it didn't overpower the pork . We learned that their bread is imported from Montreal. One issue we did have was that the dining room seemed very smoky from the kitchen (by the time we got out of there, our hair and clothes smelled like we were cooking on the bbq all day) but our server was kind enough to move us to the back of the restaurant, which was a little better. Maybe the stove exhaust fan in the kitchen wasn't working...hopefully they fix it. Overall, I would say this place was great and will definitely go back there again!

          1. So this past Sunday I made it out to Carpano for dinner, and I have to say it was awesome!
            There were 3 of us, and we ended up sitting on the patio as it was a lovely night. The first thing that came out was some warm bread that was amazing - it seemed like it was house made - nice chewy crumb, olive oil, salt, and a bit of rosemary on top. Yummy.
            We went a little crazy with the appetizers because we wanted to try a bit of everything. We ended up splitting 5 appetizers between the 3 of us.
            First up, the warm olives, great flavour, not too salty, and the orange zest and fennel seeds dusted on top added a great dimension of flavour.
            Brushetta - Good tomatoes on very garlicky bread (which was just fine by me!), topped off with a generous shaving of parmesan.
            Duck liver pate - a jar of pate came with a nice heap of toasts and a dish of diced pear and mustard seed relish. The pate was yummy, I wasnt a huge fan of the pear relish - seemed too 'watery' for the pate.
            Caprese salad - Fantastic fresh summer tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, loose pesto, reduced (and sweet!) balsamic, and olive oil. The perfect late summer salad. Simple but delicious.
            Arugula, fennel and grapefruit salad - Again a simple, fresh, tasty salad. The grapefruit was an unexpected, but welcome addition.
            For my main I had the rigatoni with beef cheeks. The pasta itself was good, well cooked, but unremarkable. The sauce was like a light gravy, beefy, with hits of sundried tomato. The beef cheeks were tender, flavourful, and had great texture. All of this topped off with shavings of provolone that quickly melted into the pasta. Very satisfying.
            My DCs had the spaghetti and meatballs, and the penne with rapini pesto. They seemed to really enjoy their dishes as well.
            The restaurant was fairly quiet when we were there - maybe 3 other groups eating.
            Our full meal came to $120 (incl tax+tip)for the 3 of us - 5 apps, 3 mains, and soft drinks. A good value with good, solid food.

            1. Had a great, reasonably priced meal at Carpano last night of spaghetti carbonara (a really wonderfully cheesy rendition, with a sorta cooked egg on top) and a negroni. They brought some truly excellent oily/crispy foccacia for egg-o-dipping. My friend had some pan fried gnocchi which he enjoyed greatly, but which I did not get to sample. Glad they have a few more cocktails on the list now. Sad they wouldn't keep the tuna or BLT sandwiches. Also, too bad the place only had a few other tables with people in them. Now that they have nice pastas, at very reasonable prices ($14 for my spagcarb!) along with good drinks, it seems even more absurd that people should not flock to the place. Don't close the Carpano! Eventually your faithfulness will be rewarded!