Urbano is the "Italian-inspired tapas parlour" that took over former brunch favourite Sugar's cozy spot at Queen & Shaw. The spot is still cozy, and Urbano inherited some of Sugar's charm (and much of their furniture), but it's not quite there yet.
An unsettling musical selection (Seal followed by Huey Lewis) was the backdrop to our meal. A meal I was hoping would be a fusion approach to tapas: an Italian twist on a Spanish staple. But Urbano's tapas is more literally about portion size than it is about a way of eating.
The dishes are divided up under six fairly gimmicky headings: Tapateasers; Carnitapas; Vegetapas; Seatapas; Pastapas; and Dessertapas.
Going with the gimmicky flow, we started with a Tapateaser: Salmone ($10), smoked salmon, capers and onions on ricotta. Salmone's presentation was sadly not a great fit with tapas style: two large heavily-laden slices of bread are not easily shared amongst a group. Unless you take the "bite and pass it on" approach.
Vegetapas included the Magic Mushroom ($7) and Pomodoro ($7) -- pictured above and below respectively. The Magic Mushroom has no special after-effects, but is a portobello stuffed with sundried tomatoes and goat cheese: a pleasant mix of crumbly and chewy textures.
For Carnitapas we had chicken breast with lemon, herb & white wine sauce ($9). Your basic lemon chicken. Moist, and cooked well, but not a spread-the-word dish. Which is the short message about Urbano. There may have been stellar, particularly Italian-inspired tapas on the menu, but we didn't stumble across it.
Urbano is not what I thought it would be: it's not an exciting adventure in fusion. It's not where you take your friends from out of town: it's where you go for an unchallenging meal when you don't feel like cooking. Not exceptional, not bad -- simple, hearty, and open for dinner.
Hours: Wednesday through Saturday 5-10pm (dinner); Saturday & Sunday 11-3pm (brunch).