I grew up with a Nanny and Poppa as opposed to a Nonna and Nonno but just being at Lil' Baci makes me feel like I am part of a large Italian family.
Part of the recent crop of new restaurants in Leslieville , Lil' Baci has entered as a contender for some of the best food on the block. Located right beside its sister restaurant Kubo Radio , it sits somewhere between the classy atmosphere of Joy Bistro and the laid-back nature of Velvet.
A good deal to start with and share is the Piatto Di Tavola ($15) which provides a sampling of meat, cheese and three of the antipasti servings which change daily. Tonight we selected the balsamic/oregano tomatoes, garlic marinated mushrooms and the spicy calamari.
The calamari was full of flavour, but a little rubbery and the tomato was tasty when paired with one of the delicious cured meats. The mushrooms were the real victory, smoky flavour and wonderful all on their own. They just tasted like comfort food.
The rest of the menu boasts a modest selection of salads, panini, entrées and pasta but it is obvious the focus is their homemade pizza. The pizzas are big enough to share. I had my favourite, the Funghi ($13.95), a white pizza with crimini mushrooms, taleggio, sage and truffle oil.
The pizzas are a thin crust, which I love. As with many restaurants, you are relegated to a serrated knife and fork to cut the pie. I always wonder why they don't give out mini pizza cutters to make it easier, though tonight I have very little trouble making neat slices. Perhaps it has to do with practice.
Although my visits here do not usually end in dessert (because I am too full), I decide to save room for dessert. I selected the Ricotta Cheese Cake ($7.95); it was gone in mere seconds. The presentation was at first a bit fancy for what was a more rustic Italian meal. But garnish provided a great flavour accompaniment to the cheesecake. The fresh berries and syrup helped to moisten the cake, which was slightly drier than a traditional cheesecake.
The wine list at Lil' Baci comes with short tasting notes to help in your selection. We had a half litre of the Grillo ($22) which paired nicely with both the pies and the antipasti.
If you are in Leslieville and looking for both good value and good food then I highly recommend Lil' Baci. And if you simply can't bear to head out in the cold, they also offer delivery.