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Restaurants

Enoteca Sociale

Posted by Frank / Reviewed on July 15, 2010 / review policy

Enoteca SocialeEnoteca Sociale offers precious little to be critical of as everything seems to be clicking here like the beads on Nonna's rosary during a prayer service. The proprietors have managed to pull off that most rare of atmospheres: a neighbourhood joint that you'll cross town for.

I've mentioned before that sometimes the map is the territory. And you're in for a treat if you get your passport stamped at this humbly adorned embassy of rustic Italian dining brought to you by the Pizzeria Libretto gang because 'wine' and 'social' are pretty much Enoteca Sociale's coat of arms.

Enoteca Sociale TorontoEnoteca Sociale staff are thoughtful and informative without being pushy and what few awkward jitters there were upon being seated quickly give way to self-assured confidence. This crew, overseen by former Jacobs & Co. stalwart and Sociale co-owner Daniel Clarke, should be duly proud for completely debugging service so early in the resto's run and revealing a professionalism that long-established joints would envy.

Meanwhile, at the back of the house, Rocco Agostino's card walks a fine Italian line while still managing to surprise at every turn.

"I wanted to make simple food" smiles Agostino as he mentions that the card is composed of stuff he's always wanted to make along with several dishes poached from his Nonna and pulling the maximum amount of flavour out of the fewest ingredients.

Enoteca SocialeAntipasti arrive and we dive for the dish of savoury fritto misto artichoke fries flecked with fresh thyme ($8) faster than an Azzurri striker in the 8 yard box, crushing the dish in seconds. A wonderfully non-greasy order of veal sweetbreads topped by a tangle of peppery arugula in a lemon vinaigrette get wolfed as quickly as they appear all washed down with a fruity 2009 De Falco white ($10 a glass).

Enoteca Sociale TorontoThick ribbons of toothsome pappardelle dressed with generous amounts of braised rabbit in a delicate broth ($13, a family recipe dontcha know) or chubby ravioli anointed in saged brown butter sauce and stuffed with creamy duck liver ($13) are both stellar secondi. There're even kamut and gluten-free pasta options if that's yer bag.

Enoteca SocialeMains of grilled Cornish game hen ($16) and braised Oxtail ($15) both trade in bold flavors. The summer-evoking palette of smoky grilled boneless bird supine atop a bright sauce of peppers, onions and caper berries screams sunshine, while the succulently moorish oxtail served on a bed of ultra-cheesy polenta paired with the 2001 Amarone ($24 a glass) would be the perfect treat on a cold winter night. A of lemony asparagus with shaved reggiano ($7) is the perfect compliment to either season.

Plates are designed to encourage a proper 3 course Italian meal and are priced reasonably for the portions but definitely offer big flavours. And in another echo of the name, you can opt for eating 'family style' ($45 per person) from a separate 'tasting' menu. You'll even be able to share that big meal with your friends soon at a wine cellar table next to the cheese cave where they plan to age some of their own formaggi.

Sommelier's Lesa LaPointe's CV includes stints at the Adelaide Terroni and Libretto so she knows a thing or two about pairing wines to Italian dishes. A selection of excellent vintages can be had. Prices begin at $35 per bottle, the majority are between $50 and $70 and the highest priced wine is $155. Employing the latest in wine science (the enomatic and vinfinity systems...you could call it eno-tech-a), also allows ES to offer a wide selection of wines by the glass that'd otherwise be prohibitively expensive.

Enoteca SocialeDesserts also amaze and every one was exceptionally well balanced adding enough sweet to finish off the meal while all were surprisingly light. Ricotta cheesecake and heavenly hazelnutty pastry cream filled zeppole floating in a bowl of creme anglais (both $8) FTW!

Enoteca Sociale is exactly what it says on the bottle and if you're looking for an Italian winner this post-World Cup season, look no further than the west end of Dundas west and start the parade to Enoteca Sociale's front door .

Enoteca SocialeAll photos courtesy Aislinn Smith

Discussion

35 Comments

JoeP / July 15, 2010 at 02:46 pm
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I have been waiting for this to open! If it's anything like Osteria (though not related in anyway); then I'll be very happy!
Oh Dear / July 15, 2010 at 03:42 pm
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First, it's formaggi, not fromaggi. Second, you really need to drop phrasing like "if that's yer bag" and using words like 'uber' or 'toothsome'. It's amateurish. If you can't write without using them, then don't.

To be brutally frank, the entire review screams of shilling. Was there anything at all that you didn't find 'heavenly' or a 'perfect complement'?

Your article would read better if you put a header on it. Something along the lines of 'press release'. That's what it reads like - it sure as hell ain't a restaurant review.
Veronica replying to a comment from Oh Dear / July 15, 2010 at 04:41 pm
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Thank you Oh Dear for catching the horrendous spelling error! But you missed a couple;
1."with several dishes poached from his Nona" -- it's Nonna
2."faster than an Azzuri striker in the 8 yard box" -- it's Azzurri!
3."toothsome papardelle" -- pappardelle.

If you're going to write an article and intend on using foreign words, MAKE SURE TO SPELL THEM CORRECTLY!
good sammy / July 15, 2010 at 04:49 pm
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The author made a good effort in his review. However, as Oh Dear pointed out, there's nothing reviewed here.

I would like to know both the good and the bad (nothing's ever perfect), and I want to read concrete examples to back up your point. Remember "Essay Writing 101"?

Also, the review uses too many adjectives, and it becomes tedious to read. Please be to the point and succinct. Overly flowery language reflects an article's lack of substance.

Jane / July 15, 2010 at 04:51 pm
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This place looks fantastic and the food looks amazing! Thanks for the review!
Minty / July 15, 2010 at 05:59 pm
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I've been here and loved it! I am a vegetarian and they took great care of me. Staff was super nice and helpful.



mj / July 15, 2010 at 06:02 pm
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Sounds like this review is a bit too positive for the uber-critical Toronto food scene. Lighten up! I've been and while not perfect it's pretty good for a 2 week old (when I went) resto. As good sammy said "nothing's ever perfect" and this place is not perfect, but they seem to be putting in a good honest effort.
Jeremy replying to a comment from mj / July 17, 2010 at 12:52 pm
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There's that word 'uber' again! I agree with the people above - this review comes off more like a press release than anything else. This reviewer seems particular fond of the word 'toothsome!"
Joe-E. / July 19, 2010 at 04:38 pm
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Will the review refrain from using German Army words in a food review!!! I hope a waiter spills a hot espresso down your pants when they hear wanker words like 'uber'. Sheesh, pass the Parmesan.
Fred / July 20, 2010 at 03:55 pm
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Had dinner at enoteca sociale the other week. Thought the place looked awesome, except the for the bar. The design i thought didn't match or suit the place.
We started off with the artichoke fries. They were good, but with anything being cooked in a deep fryer-it's never going to be bad. When our red wine arrived, i thought it was too cold to be served. The server went into great detail about the wine system. He mentioned how the wine is kept really fresh and how a bottle could be open for several days and still taste like a new bottle of wine. I found that to be a little strange.
However after apps, we went into mains. We shared the pappardelle with braised rabbit. In this review it mentioned how generous the portions were. That wasn't the case when i was there. I thought there was very little rabbit, and too much pappardelle. The fresh pasta was great but the rabbit wasn't. Then we went into the braised oxtail with polenta.
The oxtail was excellent, and the polenta...Well that was a big disappointment. There was so substance, it was very watery and just not what polenta should look or taste like.
We also shared the creemore arctic char. That was good, all though again i thought the portion was very small and fish was a bit dry. For every course we had, we paired up a different wine; and i have to be honest here, every red wine we had was too cold to be served.
For dessert,the flowerless chocolate cake was really tasty. Two big thumbs up for that.
Overall nothing is perfect and i didn't have that expectation of it being so.
It's a very new restaurant and in my opinion will take some time before they find their rhythm.
chayts / July 22, 2010 at 09:53 pm
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went, was amazing. food and service were unreal. it was a treat! welcome to the neighbourhood
Neil / July 23, 2010 at 03:28 pm
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As much as I didn't want to keep crapping on the spelling and grammar of this review, I see that - if nothing else - the spelling errors previously mentioned have been addressed, so...

The sentence that reads "A of lemony asparagus with shaved reggiano ($7) is the perfect compliment to either season." is missing a noun. And it's 'complement', not 'compliment'.

I'm not even going to get started pointing out instances where commas are needed.
Laura / November 7, 2010 at 01:41 pm
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I'm on this site looking for a good place to eat, that's all. Why is everyone so critical about grammar and spelling? Who really cares?

Volunteer to be an English tutor instead of correcting restaurant reviews.

Buon appetito!
Sunny / January 7, 2011 at 12:27 pm
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I agree with Laura, this is a restaurant review not an english essay. All i want to know is if the food is good or not.
m / January 9, 2011 at 11:28 pm
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not to sound like party pooper, but IT IS an english essay because it is printed in an official forum.
if you can't write properly, please refrain from publishing and stick to your own facebook page.

poor grammar and sloppy spelling distract from the subject at hand, while proper grammar and spelling ensure smooth reading. for me, it's also an issue of trust - the writer is in the business of communication as well as food/service evaluation, and this technically means they aren't doing 50% of their job.

my two cents. (and perhaps my standards are so high because i am not a native english speaker...)
j / January 20, 2011 at 07:15 pm
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c'mon people. are we looking for a great site with a ratings system for the best place to go and have a good time or are we being picky about spelling.
these people are doing us a service by hosting such a great website. lay off a little and go find someone else to bug about the spelling.
Katie / January 23, 2011 at 10:05 pm
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Since I moved to Toronto, I've been trying to find a replacement for some of our favorite Italian spots in New York like Malatesta, Morandi, and Babbo - this means quaint, unpretentious, knowledgeable, fantastic food, and a great wine selection. Well, Enoteca Sociale is almost there, and I'm a big fan!

We walked in without a reservation around 7:30 on a Sunday evening, and I was very pleasantly surprised. They sat us right away at the bar. I was immediately impressed with the server/bartender's knowledge of the wine and food, and he was social and welcoming.

To drink we had a glass of the pinot noir and a barbera, which were both good. For dinner we LOVED the beets with arugula, balsamic reduction, and stracciatella - what a fantastic combination. For a main I had the tubettone with cauliflower, roasted garlic, and chickpea, which was one of the most unique and tasty dishes I've ever tasted. For dessert, I was pleasantly surprised that they carry an Italian digestif that I love called Amaro Nonino, and I still day dream about the chocolate budino with sea salt and olive oil!

Pros: Service, wine selection, food, unpretentious, decor, good vibe
Cons: Lighting is too bright - needs to dim down for atmosphere

It really does feel like a Real Italian Wine Bar, and I'd recommend it to anyone. Can't wait to get back especially when we can sit on the patio.
jrmynthn / April 26, 2011 at 10:06 am
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If you wonder where the terrible pretentious service of Libretto went to, you can find it at their newest incarnation. Recently I had dinner at another Libretto spin off Enoteca Sociale. The front of house service was deplorable. Not only did they give away our reservation but they lied about it... twice. Then adding insult, they sat two walk in customers at a cancellation table before they sat us. When we inquired we were told the walk ins were being seated at a group table away from the regular dining area and apologized for the confusion. Minutes later we were escorted to our table. When seated were amazed to find the walk-ins were seated at the table beside us in the dining area and not at the group table they were sworn to be placed at. After asking to see the manager we were ignored for almost 30 minutes and were only addressed while the server was trying to serve the appetizers. The manager attempted to apologize quickly and without addressing both parties at the table.

I will not be going back to either and will make sure to inform others of the kind of customer service they can expect there.
taylor / April 27, 2011 at 12:58 pm
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can't praise enoteca sociale highly enough! i went once with my boyfriend with a reservation, and once as a walk-in with 2 girlfriends around 6:30pm on thursday night (gnocchi night!). one of my friends is vegetarian and the other is lactose intolerant, and our server helped show them what on the menu they could eat, and even found us a starter that we could all share despite the dietary restrictions going on. the atmosphere is casual and unpretentious, the servers are laid back and friendly, and the food is fantastic. i highly recommend the bucatini all'amatriciana, which is perfectly spicy and served with smoky guanciale. also the wine list is killer and there's a CHEESE CAVE. clearly there is a lot to love about this restaurant.
Rasaka / August 6, 2011 at 11:52 am
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Very good place, I was amazed at how busy the place was, once we were done eating , I then knew why it was so busy, great food, cozy and service was great. Nice wines to go with great food.

It's not close to home but worth the ride ....
TG / November 9, 2011 at 08:45 pm
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Went there about a 3 months ago. Wine selection/storage is great, I wish other bars realized that red wine is not served at "room temperature" but at 15-18C(cellar temp). Makes a big difference when you're not drinking 25C "room temp" red wine and tasting only alcohol. Food was also great and the server was very knowledgeable.
marco pantani / December 8, 2011 at 02:34 pm
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The food rarely disappoints. The highlights are the cheese and wine, of course, but what is probably not emphasized enough is the fish is sourced and cooked beautifully. The back-house changes has not affected this. The only complaint is that they can be heavy-handed with the salt. The service is wonderful: solicitous and friendly without being overbearing. However, I do recognize that there are booking issues because of the popularity of the place (too bad, because the location is great for a walk-in drink and snack place, best to make reservations and arrive 5-10 mins early.
Richard Flohil / December 9, 2011 at 11:45 am
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Am I blind? Nowhere in this review did I see an address for the place. Surely that information's vital, isn't it?
John / December 12, 2011 at 09:07 pm
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Hi, Great article. Check out http://www.industryandinterest.com as I will be showcasing different businesses around Nth America soon
Matt / January 3, 2012 at 11:14 pm
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I went, it sucked. Ravioli tasted so sweet I thought I was eating desert, smelled like jizz.
Irene / January 8, 2012 at 03:18 pm
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My husband and I had dinner at Enoteca Sociale last night, we found the atmosphere nice, the food tasty, but the portions where very small, definitely not worth what you are being charged. Over all not bad, but we would not return. We go out to dinner once a week and there are plenty more Italian restaurants that are much better.
Albert / January 16, 2012 at 07:57 pm
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you get bigger portions at a soup kitchen! Food was good though but not worth your money Libretto>enoteca sociale
C / January 18, 2012 at 09:35 pm
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This place has received way more praise than it actually deserves. Had the tasting menu and it truly dissapointed. The decor looks more like a former Portuguese men's club than an Italain restaurant (note the floor tile). The portions are extremely small, and if any protein is ordered, it's pretty hard to find. I'd much rather eat in my Nonna's basement :)
Ailyn / February 4, 2012 at 06:27 pm
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Absolutely divine!! You gotta eat here!
http://verypleasedtoeatyou.tumblr.com/post/16215366046/enotecasociale
Jane / March 17, 2012 at 10:26 am
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Loved the exposed painted-white brick! One of the many cool decor touches.
Vera / March 17, 2012 at 10:27 am
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The pasta is house made and completely delicious.
Teddy / May 9, 2012 at 10:10 am
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The room in the basement is cool. The main area, however, has a dead vibe and the food was laughable for the price. Way over-hyped. The Emperors New Restaurant.
Elizabeth / November 28, 2012 at 09:53 pm
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My husband and I ate here on Saturday night. It was probably one of the most enjoyable dinner experiences we have had in Toronto. The hype is absolutely worth it! While we were overwhelmed by all of the incredible menu items our wonderful server, Tedde never led us astray. We ordered three appetizers and one main to share. Each app came out individually and were made to order. First we had the carpaccio and bone marrow. It was so amazing; the textures were contrasting and so delightful. Then we had the warm radicchio salad with burrata and pumpkin seeds-incredible! Our last app was the octopus. My husband loved it! For our main we chose the squash agnolotti with a hazelnut pesto. It was crazy delicious. We loved everything about this place; relaxed atmosphere (kids welcome) knowledgeable staff, über talented chefs and outstanding food. We cannot wait to go back. :)
Danny replying to a comment from Veronica / January 15, 2013 at 03:01 pm
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To add...
It's the 6 or 18 yard box - there's no 8. :)
Laure H / March 22, 2014 at 02:47 pm
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The key words are: Authentic Italian Cuisine. Just like being in Italy.

First a little background. My partner is Italian and I am French. We have traveled extensively in Italy, and France, and brag about being foodies.
We were invited by two friends to dine last Saturday evening at Enoteca Sociale (ES) where we were served a five course tasting menu created by Kris Schlotzhauer, the Chef Di Cucina. The evening began with a “Sussurra” Sparkling Wine from Prince Edward County and ended with a Moscato D’Asti “Nivole”, so delicious and both went down a bit too easily.
We started with the selection of artisanal and house made Salumi with accompaniments, followed by Arancini and Albacore Tuna topped with a fennel salad along with a made in house “fatta in casa” sausage. Our third service consisted of three typically Italian pasta dishes: Bucatini all’Amatriciana, Porcini Ravioli and smoked Cauliflower Macaroni. The mains were a whole Branzino (seabass) and Prime Rib cooked to medium rare perfection served with rapini sprinkled with Parmigiano. Last but not least the deserts. Tiramisu and Sticky Toffee Pudding Italian style. In addition to the wines mentioned above, all this wonderful food was accompanied by a medium bodied red and a crisp white, both excellent, which were highly recommended by our lovely table attendant Karen.
This restaurant in Toronto is a one-of-a-kind gem. Quaint, with an unpretentious and a straightforward menu. The staff are attentive and totally committed to giving customers excellent service. The bottom line is (and there is no other way to describe it), we had an orgasmic culinary experience! We invite Torontonians to go to ES and discover what real Italian cuisine is. We are definitely going back.

Ciao a tutti è buon appetito!

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