Parkette has opened its doors just steps from Trinity Bellwoods in the old Tern Art Supplies space. Walking in, we're greeted by friendly wait staff who seat us at a table in the middle of the intimate 34 seat restaurant. I sit on a park bench painted the same emerald shade of green as the exterior.
The custom made salvaged wood tables are set simply with stemless wine glasses, plain white side plates, and cutlery rollups reminiscent of picnics in the park. Tea lights on each table give the restaurant a warm glow, and the room is quiet with the exception of the occasional burst of laughter from a large group of friends dining at the communal table across from ours.
For drinks we settle on a Gamay/Pinot Noir blend from 13th Street Winery ($40). As our wine is being poured our waiter informs us of the evenings specials: Lasagna stacked with Melanzane Impanato (breaded Eggplant $15) and a trio of Bruschetta for $10.
We start our meals off with two Italian classics - Arugula with grapefruit and shaved fennel and a grilled Radicchio salad with Gorgonzola, pear, and walnut ($7 each). The radicchio is served as a head with the leaves gently sagging as a result of being grilled. The crunch of pear and walnuts make a perfect match with the softly grilled radicchio leaves and smooth Gorgonzola.
The arugula is equally pleasing with a great mix of texture and flavor, however I'm disappointed to find that the greens are in fact a mesclun/arugula mix and slightly overdressed.
Next, the bruschetta arrives but I find it difficult to eat - as each piece is slightly larger than a one-bite finger food and tedious to cut through.
The charred octopus ($13) comes to my rescue: cooked to perfection and served with a white bean, lemon, parsley, and smoked paprika mash that is nothing short of fantastic. Whipped and delicately flavored, I would like to have ordered that white bean mash as a side with my main instead of the fingerling potatoes ($5).
As for my main, here arrives the best plate of the night - ricotta gnocchi served with oxtail and oven dried tomato ($14). The gnocchi and oxtail are both melt-in-my-mouth tender with the gravy from the oxtail acting in place of a traditional sauce.
Equally sublime is the evening's feature - lasagna (top photo) served in stacked tower form, layered with fresh tomato sauce, breaded and fried thick disks of eggplant, traditional lasagna noodles, and fresh creamy ricotta cheese. The crisp coatings on the eggplant contrive to perfectly balance the creaminess of the ricotta.
Teddy Roosevelt once said, "Build it, and they will come". And so they shall. West Queen West residents can look forward to Parkette opening for lunch and weekend brunches in the near future and I'll certainly be back.
Parkette is currently open for dinner service from Tuesday to Saturday.
Writing by Giuliana Pennachetti. Photos by Ian Peters.