The premise of the column is simple; work with restaurants of all kinds in this amazing city to explore what they have to offer and what makes them unique. In a city like Toronto, the choices are sometimes daunting and the food reviews and critics can be snotty and too complicated for their own good. So why not keep this easy?
Drinks. Appetizer. Main Course. Dessert. All along with a bit of information about what makes them our choice for Daniel’s Dish and why you should try them right away!
Destingo, 741 Queen St. West (647)-748-3113
As you can tell, Daniel’s Dish is becoming quite the busy little column for me over the last few months; the feedback has been incredible, the restaurants all unique in their own right and the people I have met, positively exquisite. This Daniel’s Dish will mark the last for 2013. As the Holidays are around the corner, I hope that you all get to enjoy what Destingo brings to the Toronto Restaurant scene.
Relatively new on the Queen West strip, Destingo is nestled into an area which for a long time wasn’t the best place to be in Toronto after dark. Thanks to a lot of love, and beautiful establishments like this one, the Gallery District is rejuvenating and blossoming into a cultural hub and meeting of the minds.
I was joined by special guest Sasha Exeter of Sosasha.com join me in the rustic Italian charm of what Destingo is all about. We laughed and learnt about owner Monika Vacca, who used to co-own the Italian restaurant Vaticano in Yorkville, who has now stepped out on her own with this new establishment.
Like French cuisine, Italian is always enjoyed better with a good glass of wine. Albeit, I maybe enjoyed too many with Sasha as the night progressed, my favourite of the evening would have to be the 2011 Chateau De Maligny Chablis (offered by the glass). Think French Chardonnay without that aggresive oaky finish we’ve come to expect from bold white wines. Almost sweet, this matte feeling on the tongue and buttery texture is the perfect juxtaposition for the acidity and flavours in the menu. Elegant, with a hint of gold in the glass, this white wine says holiday dinners and Destingo flavours through and through.
The difficulty in opening a new restaurant can lay in the fact that you want to be all things to all people and therein loose focus on your concept. I will be honest and say that the menu is long, and for the most part, many Italian restaurants always want to make sure you are fed and fed well. The Bruschetta was served on a wood board drizzled with balsamic oil reduction and served atop slightly toasted bread. With a dash of salt, it became everything you want it to be. Acidic, sweet, savoury and fell apart beautifully.
I tried a few of the Antipasti & Insalate items and for the most part, the presentation was lovely. I did however wish that almost every item had a bit of seasoning. They fell short of what they could have been but were still classic dishes. Reaching over and dipping home-made bread into oil and laughing with a glass of wine in hand, this was an Italian Experience and my shining star appetizer is the simplest of things but so difficult to do well.
In staying with the rustic style, my main course selection had to be something authentically Italian. Aside from fresh made pasta, the first dish that came to mind is Veal Scallopini. Difficult to execute and rich in flavour, I was hesitant at first and the Vitello al Florence is a twist on this classic dish which has a fillet of pan seared veal smothered in a button mushroom balsamic cream sauce. Once again, I’d suggest a pinch of salt to play with this rich flavoured main course.
A special mention of course must got to the Agnolotti alla Sasha which we simply had to try in honour of the night’s special guest. Creamy and decadent, this recipe was actually inspired by owner Monika’s daughter and was a welcomed addition to the evening.
What could be more Italian then Tiramisu? A coffee infused layered cake which has seen more reinventions in the culinary world then creme brulée over the last decade. Some are gelatonous, others are white cake ‘flavoured’ with coffee. Authentic Tiramisu should be soft to the bite with dark coffee flavour and contrasting sweet cream. Destingo’s version absolutely nailed it and ended with just the right amount of sweetness. This is the best dessert on the menu, and though the piece looks too big to be true, I was left wanting more. That’s the sign of a good dessert when it leaves you satisfied and wishing for just one more bite!
Secret You Should Know:
Monika is a woman who comes from a long line of restaurateurs, and though her restaurant is new and evolving, she takes well to criticism & critique; ensuring that her clientele are satisfied. Nothing I’ve mentioned above wasn’t said to her during our visit and taken to heart. And that my dear reader, marks a sign of a true restaurateur. The secret of Destingo is that Monika named Destingo upon her departure from Vaticano and her past. In seeking out a new space & a new venture – Destingo is in fact the marriage of the words ‘Destiny’ & ‘to go.’ Her destiny to start anew.
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Photos: Daniel Desforges & Destingo