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Restaurants

Gio Rana's Really Really Nice Restaurant

Posted by Susan Hu / Reviewed on June 19, 2008 / review policy

Gio Rana's Really Really Nice RestaurantWhen it's Friday night and a pleasant dinner out is on the menu, optimally, it'd be a combination of great food (of course), a fun atmosphere, brisk service, and not having to spend much time trying to figure out where to go. Everyone has that go to place. Mine is Gio's.

You may also know it by its full name Gio Rana's Really Really Nice Restaurant or alternatively as The Nose due to the giant, hard-to-miss giant paper mache likeness that stands for a sign. Housed in what used to be a bank, the decor is just as kitschy, with art that's vaguely affiliated with the Italian genre. The high ceilings lend a spacious feel however, distracting from the majority of the tables that come close to touching.

I don't really go for the ambiance, though, which does attract a crowd on the weekends that might be confused with the sort of queue more aptly found in the club district. Think dinner by candlelight that attractively blurs your date, yet makes seeing your plate difficult; plus trying to talk over what could be funky house music.

As with any place I go to, it's for the food. The menu is divided into four courses: antipasti (salads, seafood), primi (pastas), secondi (meats, fish), and side veg. Sometimes you'll get the gregarious guy in the baseball cap who recommends ordering two dishes and some veg to share. If, like me, you always end up wanting what the other person ordered, this is the perfect way to eat. Two of us shared, and thus were able to sample four different things.

Scotty's meatball at Gio's

Scotty's meatball ($6.95) was the size of a baseball, light as sponge-cake, and doused in a rich, velvety, zingy tomato sauce (the sort that I just can't duplicate at home) and shreds of golden, smoky parm.

The fritto misto ($9.95) were perfectly fried calamari and tiger prawns, plump, moist, with a light yet crisp exterior served with a slick of pesto on one side, and chili-infused olive oil on the other.

Gio's gnocchiGorgonzola gnocchi ($6.95) tasted of a bacon-esque smoke from the cheese, were paradoxically dense yet airy at once, and dressed just enough in that same rich tomato sauce.

Gio's InvoltiniThe Involtini ($13.95), cigars of shredded pork stuffed into rib-eye, topped with goat's cheese, is one of those dishes that makes me hesitate going veggie again. Tender beef, with a hint of salivating-inducing char, encases sweet and succulent pork, which is further married by the silky fluff of cheese.

Now, about seven years later, rediscovering Gio's; finding that it's home in Leslieville is just as good or even better than I remembered back when I frequented the Yonge/Eg location, is as satisfying as their gnocchi.

Discussion

27 Comments

Byron Yu / December 28, 2008 at 11:34 pm
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I'm never going here again. Totally unprofessional. Friends were visiting from out of town so I made reservations at 8:30, got there at 8:33 to find they already gave it away. They kept telling us a table was coming up soon, until we ran out of patience at 9:30pm. There were 5 of us waiting so collectively 5 hours of our time wasted. I had complained and all the manager said was sorry.
Jenny / February 25, 2009 at 01:51 pm
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Agreed, bit too crowded, bit too casual BUT food was fantastic - can't complain about that!!!
Bill / March 16, 2009 at 03:18 pm
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Hey, get there on time!
bit too casual? that's their thing.
I was there on the weekend after a long hiatus and was happy to find that the food was better than ever. i thought it had slipped a bit about a yr. ago but it's back on track. and the involtini? one of the best dishes in the city.
Pascal / May 14, 2009 at 11:31 am
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Amazing place, the best ambiance in Toronto. Very authentic and casual, no pretension for a change. Good prices and wow, amazing food.
Sarah B. Hood / August 4, 2009 at 12:12 pm
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The secret? Reserve for 6.
Sarah B. Hood / August 4, 2009 at 12:13 pm
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6 p.m. that is, not six diners...
Sarah B. Hood / August 4, 2009 at 12:14 pm
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The secret? Reserve for 6. 6 p.m. that is, not six diners...
skm / September 10, 2009 at 01:59 pm
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this is by far my fave italian restaurant in the city. i have been several times and the food is always consistently good. i've had nothing but great service from every staff member i've encountered there and i love the setting. lots of ambiance. funky enough for the younger crowd but not pretentious, so the slightly more "mature" clientele feel completely welcome. hoping to take me ol' mum there sometime!
Ryan / October 27, 2009 at 07:10 pm
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It was fun, hip, blah blah.

The food was tasty - a bit salty though and the involtini was too rich... and i'm fat.
Danielle / February 2, 2010 at 03:11 pm
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Totally agree on the salt. I found all the food a little too overwhelming.
Prem / May 26, 2010 at 12:39 pm
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@Byron..Its a shame to hear bout ur bad luck, truth is, it happens..but aside from service..the food seems to be superb. I'm going to be in the area this weekend, any recomendations?
Gord / October 26, 2010 at 08:03 am
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Haha wow, i thought this joint was an art gallery
Bill / July 9, 2011 at 01:02 pm
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Fantastic place. food, atmosphere, staff, everything! and the involtini? one of the best dishes it T.O. Before we moved out of town it was our neighbourhood go-to. Always hilarious the things people complain about... "the ambience was to fun and casual." The food was too "overwhelming". translation: too much flavour. Hilarious. better stick to the restaurant at Ikea, folks!
CJ / October 28, 2011 at 12:24 am
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When we first bought our home in Leslieville, this is the spot where our Real Estate agent took us and some of our friends for a celebration dinner.

First impression was Super Positive and even after more visits, that great impression still exists.

Last time we were here, my mother and friend of hers were in town, we were offered the bank vault/wine room.
Service was great and I smile when I think about going there again.
Stephanie / January 7, 2012 at 01:28 pm
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Just went here for my birthday dinner with my family, and had a really great experience. It was very busy on a Wednesday night! The service was good (could have been more attentive...) and the people who work there are very nice! Food was good! And prices were reasonable! I got the involtini (steak wrapped pulled pork with goat cheese and jus) and it was delish! Great atmosphere, will be back :)
Tom replying to a comment from Byron Yu / March 2, 2012 at 07:45 pm
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You were late. I don't know why you're calling them unprofessional lol
funguToU / March 19, 2012 at 10:42 am
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Tom, there is no excuse for a reaturant giving away a reservation 3 minutes past the reservation time. Even a small traffic delay can cause a delay like that. I'd expect them to wait at least 5 minutes, and even waiting 10 minutes is not unexpected.
mpk / June 16, 2012 at 03:07 pm
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funny how they dont take reservations for less then 6 and you had 5 people waiting for 5 hours. seems like they were on to your trick.
ChantelleJoy replying to a comment from Byron Yu / September 26, 2012 at 01:28 am
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'There were 5 of us waiting so collectively 5 hours of our time wasted. I had complained and all the manager said was sorry.'

... That's not the way TIME WORKS!
Chaource replying to a comment from Byron Yu / February 13, 2013 at 04:31 pm
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They don't take reservations for less than 6 people at Gio Rana's, so their giving away your table with only 5 of you waiting had nothing to do with you being late, I suspect. Suck it up, Princess, and next time bring a 6th, to enjoy some of the best food in the city.
JAM / February 17, 2013 at 12:57 pm
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Great ambiance. Service started out as great but then declined as our server lost steam or interest. Still, that would have been tolerable in such a buzz-positive space if the food itself hadn't been disappointing. The crespelle with sage butter was bland. The. Arctic char war overcooked. None of the dishes were seasoned properly. We didn't make an issue of it because we could tell our server was having a bad night. Another server came by half way through and offered only one of the party of five some pepper. We tried our best to be pleasant as we had all been servers in our past lives. I've had way better food there and last night it felt like they've become victim to their popularity, offering assembly-line output. Go for the vibe and legacy. Be prepared for an overwhelmed kitchen. I hope they get it back together!
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Koh Phi Phi (Krabi) Hotels / December 7, 2013 at 11:35 am
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Max / March 27, 2014 at 10:40 am
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I have been to the "Nose" many times before and always enjoyed it a lot. Great food, amazing loud music and ambiance and most of all wonderful, fun, flirtatious and attentive service.
However I went with friends last Saturday and for the first time didn't like it at all. The music was way too loud this time, we couldn't have a conversation really (it's always loud, and I usually enjoy that, this time though was way too loud), the food was mediocre, but I was hugely disappointed in the service.
Our server never made eye contact or smiled, was rather rude, overly stressed and brusque.
The server has been around for a long time and it was not busier than usual. He should be used to the stress. Hopefully he just had a bad day.
Will stay away for a while and not recommend the place for now.
Too bad.
Lashawnda / May 26, 2014 at 07:12 pm
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Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you penning this write-up and also
the rest of the site is also very good.
Graham Brown replying to a comment from Byron Yu / June 20, 2014 at 01:41 pm
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So you are never going there again because you were late and they gave your reso away?
wow what dickheads
Poots replying to a comment from Byron Yu / July 16, 2014 at 02:35 am
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If you're going to a busy restaurant and running late, you should call and let them know you'll be a few minutes late.

Pretty standard courtesy.

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