Il Covo translates to “the hideout,” a restaurant from the same people behind one of Toronto’s most beloved Italian restaurants, Buca.
This place specializes in handmade fresh pasta, and while the restaurant is Venetian in style you’ll find dishes here from all over Italy.
The cozy and plush space is somewhat divided into further nooks. A front area while still dim with a swanky marble bar is a little brighter thanks to a latticed front window, a place where a quick drink and small plate could be grabbed in the late afternoon or after work.
Further back there’s a full dining room that feels more appropriate for an entire evening; the space has a total capacity of 60.
Past that in yet another nook a gleaming communal table seats twelve.
Scrigno ($15) are “chests” of pasta filled with a well-balanced mixture of tangy, creamy Carozzi gorgonzola and slightly bitter radicchio di Chiogga, all set off by 10-year-aged Modena balsamic.
I thought the combination of flavours might be too sharp and the crispy furled edges of the pasta would be dry, burned or chewy, but everything harmonized and the crispy pasta edges were actually one of the best parts.
The Raviolini ($12) is my favourite of all the dishes I try, silken pouches of pasta stuffed with earthy braised snails and mushrooms set off by organic cow’s cream, goat’s butter, and a bright rosemary oil.
Ok, I mainly love this dish because of the $45 Acadian wild sturgeon caviar option: who can resist the saltiness and texture of caviar? It goes excellently with the rich dish.
Agnello alla grigla ($24) translates almost literally to a grilled bone-in rack of lamb. The fat cap on top of the lamb is rendered then smoked, used for cooking the potato and rosemary in this dish. Eggplant is also incorporated, this smoky supportive foundation the perfect stage for the tender, fatty lamb.
Carote ($9) are more of a side dish but could be treated as a veggie small plate. The carrots certainly have enough flavour, braised in rendered pork fat and topped with raw Iberico pork fat, all sitting on a spiced carrot emulsion with surprisingly delicious crispy lentils.
Tiramisu al limone ($9) is a lighter take on tiramisu with lemon curd, ladyfingers soaked in limoncello, and a lemon-curd-infused house mascarpone.
A Vespa Viola is an accessible, sweet take on a Bee’s Knees made with Kinsip County Cassis and clover honey.
A “Friendship Cup” is never supposed to touch the table: each guest at the table takes a sip of the espresso and grappa cocktail (served flaming) from a separate spout.
Underneath the restaurant lurks a further surprise, a wine cellar containing hundreds of bottles.