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Restaurants

Terroni Bar Centrale

Posted by Carli Vierke / Reviewed on November 25, 2011 / review policy

Terroni Bar CentraleTerroni Bar Centrale, which opened this spring, is Cosimo Mammoliti's newest addition to the Terroni Empire. The Rosedale spot has been designed to pay homage to Italy's many train station bars, staying true to its Italian counterparts with its long, narrow layout, and crowded, hustle-bustle ambiance.

The seating space is exceptionally tight, which turns out to be part of its charm. Whether you're sitting elbow-to-elbow with strangers in the front area, packed like sardines at the bar, or nestled against the long window, the surrounding flurry actually allows for a sense of intimacy. Kind of an "eye of the storm" type deal.

Terroni Bar CentraleOn a Wednesday night around 7 pm, my guest and I manage to snag one of the last two tables available. Desperate for a generously poured glass of red wine, I look at the long list of Italian vino exclusive to Terroni - and feel a bit lost. The list is reasonably priced - bottles of reds and whites range from $40-110, and a glass will run you $6-17.

With a silent vow to learn my Italian grapes, I ask our server for a recommendation. I let her know we're looking for something full bodied, comparable to a malbec or cabernet. She points to a $70 bottle and a $110 bottle. When I ask if there's anything else she might suggest, say, one of the five bottles listed at $45, she proposes the 2007 Aglianico del Taburno ($45). We go with it, and it suits our purposes just fine.

After the wine is sorted, our server launches into her spiel about the "tapas style" menu and that plates are "intended to be shared." Though I always shudder at these opening monologues, I'm looking forward to sampling a decent amount of the lengthy menu.

Terroni Bar CentraleWe begin with the Insalata Panzanella ($9), a sumptuous pile of fresh cucumber, cherry tomatoes, red onion, basil and rustic bread. The crunchy, juicy vegetables are perfectly ripe and I feel like I'm getting the dose of health food my diet has missed this week. I choose not to acknowledge the liberal pour of olive oil and vinegar drenching the salad.

Terroni Bar CentraleBefore we finish our insalata, our Fritto Misto ($12) and Polenta e Gorgonzola ($9) arrive. I'm mildly irritated by this, since the tables are teeny and I had asked to have the meal coursed, but with a bit of shuffling we make room and make do. Served in a faux newspaper wrap, the Fritto Misto - fried calamari and Tiger shrimp - is fantastic. The seafood is tender and the batter has an interesting, if subtle, mix of spices that permits the dish to be served sans sauce. The squeeze of lemon gives it a zip and before we know it, it's gone.

The Polenta e Gorgonzola is what I'm anticipating most. Stacked high with mushrooms, the polenta is piping-hot, crispy, and surprisingly, with a rather muted gorgonzola presence. Given the tendency of the cheese to overpower any dish it accompanies, the attention paid to maintaining well-balanced flavours did not go unnoticed.

Terroni Bar CentraleFor our main course, we share Lasagne alla Bolognaise ($12) and Spinach and Ricotta Tortelloni ($10). The Lasagne, baked with a heavy besciamella (b├ęchamel sauce) and Parmigiano cheese, is incredibly smooth, rich, and hearty - the perfect winter comfort food.

Terroni Bar CentraleOur Tortelloni, however, is disappointing. We expect the combo of butter and sage sauce, spinach pasta and sheep ricotta, to be a sure-fire crowd pleaser, but it arrives lukewarm and unsmiling. The velvety cheese center should be oozing but instead it's firm. I pout as I eat it anyway.

Terroni Bar CentraleFor dessert, I have an Americano ($2.75) and we share the Mouse al Caramello ($8) - a salted caramel mousse with raspberry sauce. I am a strong believer that salt and caramel are among the godliest pairings on earth, and so I'm delighted with the flavour-packed, whipped sweet and salty dessert. The chocolate crisp that comes wedged in the top provides some textural dynamism to our sweet treat, and my coffee compliments the caramel flavours perfectly.

Terroni Bar CentraleThe raspberry sauce served on the side, however, warrants a bit of a question mark. It doesn't seem to mesh with the rest of the dessert. Salty caramel? Yes please. Salty raspberry? Not so much.

Terroni Bar CentraleTerroni Bar CentraleTerroni Bar Centrale

Discussion

14 Comments

pumpkin / July 1, 2011 at 03:54 pm
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worst service ever. our 20 min wait for a table turned into 45, and for some reason the confused hostess seated everybody who arrived later than us before us. We were told they don't take reservations, then they seated someone who apparently had a reservation. We'd have been happy to take a seat at the bar but those were given away after we volunteered that info also. Simple questions about types of wine and vodka were met with blank stares. I wanted to like this place as I am a regular/weekly patron La Bettola and their Adelaide St location. We settled up our drinks and left.
Chris / November 25, 2011 at 05:00 pm
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I find it amazing that one of the wealthiest parts of the City if not the country, continues to have such mediocre restaurants (and yet they're all popular) - seriously, are there any really good restaurants in Rosedale? I mean at least on par with similar restaurants downtown? Can't think of any.

I would've thought that those who can afford to eat anywhere might be pickier about their options. Guess not.
Richie replying to a comment from Chris / November 25, 2011 at 06:42 pm
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Can't help but agree.
warmflash / November 25, 2011 at 06:57 pm
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The very wealthy aren't really into food as much as one imagines.

From my experiences among the well-heeled, they like it bland and never shy away from the overcooked.

It makes complete sense to me that Rosedale would be home to the blandest expensive restaurants in the city.
dan / November 25, 2011 at 08:42 pm
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these are good comments
mondayjane replying to a comment from Chris / November 25, 2011 at 08:48 pm
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Bang on.
Eric replying to a comment from Chris / November 25, 2011 at 09:16 pm
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You may notice on any given night, a shit ton of luxury vehicles parked outside the nice restuarants on Simcoe, Front, and King. Guess where the majority of those people live?
jess / November 25, 2011 at 09:43 pm
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did you guys pay 10 dollars for three tortelloni or did you take the pic halfway throughout the meal?
lowrez replying to a comment from jess / November 25, 2011 at 11:00 pm
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Complaining about plated proportions is very 1993.
ish / November 25, 2011 at 11:34 pm
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Get it on! Bang a gong!
Adam replying to a comment from Chris / November 26, 2011 at 12:38 pm
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The bland state of Yorkville and Rosedale prove that Toronto's rich are a boring bunch. Could you imagine a duller set of playgrounds for the wealthy than these two parts of town?

Conversely, if you had money wouldn't your neighbourhood be more interesting, thanks to the way you spent it?
muchacho / November 26, 2011 at 06:20 pm
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Yorkville is mostly hookers, pro ballers and their entourages, and 'legitimate businessmen' from woodbridge. Rich they are not.
Olivia / November 28, 2011 at 04:14 pm
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I love Terroni, however this restaurant is a big disappointment. The portions are so small, but great for tapas over some drinking. I can't wait until the upstairs opens.
Naw / April 27, 2014 at 11:50 am
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This is Teronni - terrible service. You ask for cold glass with your beer cause you know it's gonna taste like a warm coffee? No we can't do that. You ask for one small modification of a pizza? Naw we can't do that. And all this said with the delivery of a restaurant waiter that believes high-end service = food snobbery when it's actually quite the opposite across the board in NYC, London etc. Anyone who has travelled and been to best resturants in the world knows that Toronto has a terrible customer service but Terronni is the exemplar of this

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