A3 Napoli is slinging regional Italian street foods along College St. aiming to attract foot traffic in Little Italy with a menu of handheld delights that can be easily enjoy seated, standing or strolling. It's the latest venture from Chef Rocco Agostino ( Pizzeria Libretto ) and Nick auf der Mauer ( Porchetta & Co. ), named for the dysfunctional Italian autostrada that leads to the centre of Naples.
The concept is simple and the menu concise, but the pace and atmosphere of this dining experience is meant to be quick and perhaps a little chaotic. Start at the cashier counter to order, and then redirect your attention to the open kitchen and window of fried delicacies to fill a paper cone with fritto misto.
Cooked in ultra hot oil, incredibly fast to limit the amount of oil seeping in, all of the fried foods take a turn in the friggitrice (fryer), the first of its kind in Canada.
The selection of fried vegetables on display will change seasonally, but will likely include an array of ready-to-eat goodies like cauliflower, golden beets, rapini, zucchini spears, and zucchini blossoms.
Staples include arancini, and frittatina, two-bite cubes of bucatini in peppery bechamel with provola studded with chunks of ham. Libretto's meatballs make an appearance too, but here they're breaded and deep fried. A single selection cost $1.25, five pieces sell for $6, ten pieces for $11, while a platter (or pizza box) with a little of everything is $19. Dipping sauces include choices like salsa verde, lemon aioli, and marinara.
Pizza here can be ordered a couple different ways. A wood fired version (similar to Libretto's) but slightly smaller is available in Margherita ($11), Marinara ($9), and a weekly feature.
It's slightly firmer than your typical soupy-centered Neapolitan pie and easily shared. Should you plan to consume a whole pizza to yourself, try the portafoglio ($7) folded twice in paper into the size of a wallet.
More unique is the pizza fritta stuffed with whipped ricotta, provola, and ciccoli (semi-cured pork), which can be had as a 'bat' (short for battilocchio), a long paper-wrapped half portion ($8), or as a Montanara ($13), a puffy pillow of dough that is messier than most of menu and best shared at a table.
Once your order is placed, the choice is yours to take it out on the street, or to grab a seat at communal tables in the dining room strung with bare bulbs.
Perhaps the availability of beer and wine might inform your decision to stay as it's the only part of the Italian street food dining experience that can't be replicated in no-fun Toronto.
On tap, find a concise selection featuring two beers, Peroni and Capo from Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery, as well as two wines.
Photos by Hector Vasquez.