Burke and I have been in Toronto nearly a week, with few notable food adventures. Money has been tight, so weve limited ourselves to low-priced excursions. The corned beef and tongue at Yitzs (Eglinton Ave. West) are fine, but not outstanding--the potato pancakes were an outright failure. We enjoyed a surprisingly successful espresso at Café Demetré, on Eglinton Ave. East (skip the ice cream, its overpriced and under flavored). But further down the road, on Eglinton Ave. West, practically across from Yitzs, theres a better coffee and a real meal to go with it. We found 7 Numbers.
This small, bustling corner trattoria, only open evenings, is no secret. My Internet researches turned it up the moment I begin to explore Ontario food culture, especially on Chowhound. My first glance left me hoping for more atmosphere and perhaps a little more space, but the pleasure is in the people, the truly Italian welcome, the energy. Our table in the back was loud and public, linoleum and mismatched chairs, right by the pickup counter. It felt like someones kitchen--in other words, it was heaven.
As in Tuscany and Umbria, the courses were many but small. Our antipasta was prosciutto and figs in balsamic for Burke (heady, dense, salty-sweet) and feather-light fried calamari for me (tender, delicate, oily in the best possible sense). For primi, Burke enjoyed rigatoni with ricotta, while I dove into a veal and beef lasagna--properly cooked. Al dente is wonderful for some pasta, but not a baked dish like this. The style was different, more acidic and tart than the lasagna we had in Florence but just as comforting.
Mains were even more impressive. My veal shank was falling off the bone. This is not an expression: every time I touched it, another hunk fell off the bone. A few of the garnishing peas had been exposed to the oven overlong, drying out and hardening them, but it didnt detract from the delicately seasoned meat. Burkes Sexy Duck was crispy and not at all fatty, perfectly complimented by a side of grilled peppers.
The espresso and cappuccino had viscosity and deep flavor, but the real surprise was dessert. Burkes lemon tart was powerful, authentic, brimming with fresh-cut zest. My chocolate torte had a stunning lightness for a flourless dessert. I dont think Ive encountered anything that light and cocoa-intense without the use of egg whites or nut meal as a base--how did they do it? I have to ask Vito.
Vito caught me on the way out. I hear you were complaining. I nodded. Yeah, and we left half the food on our plates. Laughter turned to compliments, then to discussion, then to recognition. Seems Vito follows Chowhound and noticed our arrival in Toronto. His mother does the cooking, and is a wizard to be reckoned with.
Perhaps Vito can tell us why its called 7 Numbers. I know the seven numbers are 1447582, but what do they mean? Its not a telephone number. Perhaps its the combination to a safe, wherein some great treasure is kept. Our meal, with two glasses of wine and tip, came to around $80, and wed have paid much more and called it a bargain. A treasure indeed.
343 Eglinton Ave. West
Toronto, Ontario M5N 1A1
A Burke and Wells Review
My wife and I had a lovely anniversary dinner at seven numbers on Friday night.
We started with the Calamari and Eggplant. They were delicious and FAST...we were barely there for 10 minutes before the first course started.
The rigatoni with smoked ricotta and lasagna were excellent and are a good portion size.
The Lamb shank is falling off the bone and full of flavour. The sexy duck was also highly rated by my wife.
We had grilled asparagus and grilled portabello's as our sides...both were fresh, lightly grilled and a nice addition.
Desert was a shared lemon tart that was clean with great citrus tartness that cleansed the palate nicely.
The only negative I can say about the restaurant is that it is popular (and busy), so come early to get a table, and that you do feel a bit rushed as the courses come out so quickly.
I don't blame them for this though, as they need the turnover in diners in such a small place.
The service is friendly, knowledgeable and helpful.
We would definitely go back in a minute.
And THIS is exactly why I recommend this restaurant to anyone and everyone looking for great Italian food in our city.
Wonderful review. Thank you for taking the time to write it.
It tempts me to cancel my reservation at Bymark tomorrow and head over to visit Rosa. :)
Thanks! It was a wonderful dinner and as so often happens we have Chowhounds to thank for it. I want to contribute more, we get so much from this site. I wish we had time to write up every place we visited, but there aren't hours enough in the day. Also, we try not to write negative reviews. A warning will do.
WARNING: Just had the all-you-can-eat lunch special at Katsu sushi on the Danforth. Awful. Even at $9.99 (a dollar less Mon-Thurs), we couldn't scrape out anything delicious. Or good. All sushi was inedible. Hot mains were almost as bad. Save your money and appetite!