Annabelle serves up three fresh pastas and three specials daily as well as Italian small plates and a list of negronis.
This multi-level restaurant came to be through a set of circumstances that transformed the convenience store that once operated at this corner into two businesses owned by the same group of people, Bob Coffee Bar and Annabelle.
The bar, dish pit, and three-burner kitchen are all out in the open, a panel of reinforced glass for the pass. This makes the 44-seat restaurant feel like you’re eating in a cool friend’s apartment across from the park.
Ever-changing shapes and styles of pasta are made fresh daily in house, utilizing the basement of Bob Coffee Bar.
One of the daily specials is always some form of burrata. Today’s ($15) comes with crispy fried leek, a frilly celery salad, and a celery root puree. All that combines with the melty, satiny cheese for a soupy, holiday-esque effect on the flavours.
A beet-cured salmon ($12) is topped with beet, crumbled cheese, pistachio blitzed with lemon zest, fried rosemary and basil shreds that all combine for a sweetly vegetal but savoury dish with an Italian pop of citrus and herbs.
All the daily pastas including a hearty buckwheat orecchiette with goat ragu are $10. The sauce is studded with nice big slivers of potent garlic and has a nice warm Christmas-y nutmeg/cinnamon flavour.
You also might find yourself digging into a meatball panini with a hunk of cheese, served on traditionally fluffy bread that’s been given a light char.
There are just over a half dozen negronis ($12) on the menu here, including orange blossom, rose hip ginger, and prosecco versions, all containing 2.5 ounces of alcohol.
The Blanco is made with Dillon’s Gin, Cocchi Americano Guerra Blanco, and finished off with some aromatic rosemary and a little citrus zest. A clean take on a classic.
A little more off the beaten path is the beet root negroni, adding Campari, Guerra Rojo, basil and beet juice to the Dillon’s. It’s a little more juicy and sweet than diehard negroni fans might like, but also cuts the drink’s typical booziness.
The Italian here is also available for takeout, thankfully for fans of the Lil’ Baci family of restaurants. It’s named for Mark Bacci’s mother, who passed away during the restaurant’s conception.
The way the spaces have wound up divided reads like two ideas that should be one, but if this reasonably-priced Italian spot can draw a crowd the way cafe/cocktail bar has, they should continue to work in perfect symbiosis.