Toronto is home to numerous Italian restaurants, so do we really need another Italian place? When they are as good as Giulietta, the answer is a resounding YES! Giulietta has taken over the Bestellen space at 972 College Street recently, and the same Chef, Rob Rossi, and his partner David Minicucci at his other restaurant, L’Unita have re-opened this chic new spot. They have transformed this narrow room into a sleek, modern, sophisticated space. The interior was redesigned by Guido Costantino, the same man behind the Buca restaurants. The restaurant has a light airy feel, despite the depth. They have incorporated some of the original oxidized red metal beams and continued that colour palate in the benches. The walls are upholstered in grey flannel, and the floors are terrazzo. The music is happily, background music. There is a bar up front with additional seating and an open kitchen with a wood-burning oven in the back. You can also book a seat there and watch the chefs doing their thing. The middle of the restaurant has a glass cellar, where the fruits, vegetables and wines are displayed.
The first thing you will notice is the warm welcome when you arrive, there is no attitude here. The restaurant also runs like clockwork, which is admirable considering it was only three months old at the time of writing this article. Other restaurants should take note, who always use the excuse about growing pains. The waitstaff explained everything on the menu properly, and, the food was perfectly cooked. When I got up to take a picture or use the restroom, my napkin was re-folded. People continually made the rounds to see if everything was okay, and asked us as well. Whoever is doing the training here, kudos to you.
The menu is impressive, with so many desirable choices. It is divided into Spuntini, Verdure, Primi, Secondi, Contorni and Pizza. The menu is light on protein and more on the carb and vegetable side. They offer complimentary filtered water, and have some excellent cocktails and Italian Aperitivo. The wine list is globally appealing, heavy on the Italian wines, and nothing too expensive. There is even an Amano cart, with many options only available in this restaurant. You can add a spritz or serve them on their own. I thoroughly enjoyed my Giulietta spritz, made with quaglia berto aperitivo, prosecco and soda. A better take on an Aperol spritz.
There were so many interesting choices it was difficult to pick. The grilled octopus on a bed of cannellini beans and salmoriglio was definitely a standout dish, tender and deliciously presented. There was a special of deep-fried zucchini flowers the night we dined. Every pasta dish was enticing and we had trouble narrowing it down to three choices, which they brought out spaced so we could enjoy each one. We had a daily special of gnocchetti with lamb, Paccheri allo Scoglio with clams, prawns, calamari, tomato, saffron and basil (a dish I have every summer at Le Scoglio in the Amalfi) and our personal favourite, the Scarpinocc, a homemade pasta with taleggio fonduta, hen of the woods mushrooms and black pepper. It tasted sinfully rich, but yet, was somehow light, using pasta water instead of cream to achieve similar results. The pizza is Neapolitan style, with a thin chewy crust. There are 6 choices, and we went with their namesake Giulietta pizza, topped with Sicilian pistachios, lardo di Modena, panna and smoked scamorza. This was another rich dish and I loved the crust.
If I’m being honest I’m not a huge fan of Italian desserts. When I’m in Italy, I usually stick with the safe choices, gelato or fresh fruit. So I was extremely surprised to find a brilliant Nona’s tart, that was more reminiscent of a thin butter tart topped with toasted pine nuts. Except, it was more like the best butter tart EVER.
Everything on the menu sounded enticing, and every dish that passed by me looked like exceptional regional specialties.
They mentioned that the food was meant to be shared, but what I liked is that the concept was not shoved down your throat, like it is in other establishments. Each dish was creative, perfectly executed with a fine balance between texture and flavours. It is not often you get excellent customer service and hospitality, with a fine meal in a lovely ambiance. Open nightly from Tuesday to Saturday.