Winterlicious: Innocenti

I'll be honest, I tend to stay away from the $25 dinner options for Winterlicious. I usually have my sights set on some of the $35 prix fixe restaurants in town I can only afford to go for special occasions.

This time around, I was gunning for one of the new additions to the Winterlicious roster: Mildred Pierce. After three solid days of calling only to be met with what I can only assume was a continual busy signal, I made reservations for Innocenti. (I was going by a friend's list of preferences.)

It's good value, but I found during this year's Winterlicious outings that there is a wide gap between the quality of food when that extra $10 is spent. (I'll also be posting about another $25 dinner at the Brasserie in the next couple of days.)

The Innocenti Winterlicious Dinner Menu:

Appetizer - Soup of the Day or Classic Romaine Caesar or Grilled Calamari or Tapas & Salad Platter

Entree - Gnocchi with Mushrooms or Orange scented Asian Sole or Seared Pork Rib Eye with Pappardelle Pasta or Penne Pomodoro

Dessert - Vanilla Ice Cream filled Crepe with Fruit Sauce or Chocolate Pecan Tart

Lots of choices, for sure.

It's a Sunday night and Innocenti ain't that hoppin'. We are seated in the middle of the restaurant. My friend decides to keep her jacket, while I surrendered mine at the door. Bad news for me: It's freezing. But I'm too lazy to ask for my coat back.

Since it's not that busy, our food arrives quickly. First up, our appetizers: my tapas and my friend's calamari. Both plates are presented well. I enjoy my olive tapanade and hummus, especially the crispy and light pita chips which accompanies them. My friend takes a bit of the calamari and makes a face, "You know when calamari doesn't taste fresh?" She points down at her plate. I have a taste and suggest that she season it a little more. Nothing a little lemon and salt can't fix.

Our entrees are a little more disappointing. I order the pork rib eye thinking that it is the main part of the meal. And while there are two sizable (and tough) pieces of seared pork, it is really a pappardelle pasta dish with pork slices on top. Pappardelle is one of my favourite pastas, but it's not what I had in mind.

Similarly, my friend's orange-scented sole comes baked in parchment paper which can be mistaken for phillo. The sole is flavoured quite strongly in orange, and there is a lack of a savoury balance to the dish.

For dessert, I order the crepe and my friend orders the pecan pie. Nothing stellar here. The crepe tastes like something from the frozen aisle of the grocery store and the pie could be likened to something from the same store's bakery section.

All in all, it's an enjoyable girls' night out with an OK meal. The regular menu is also reasonably priced and is definitely worth a try versus something like a Jack Astor's or a Joe Badali's.

587 King St. W.

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