Jamie’s Italian Restaurant – Canada


IT HAS FINALLY OPENED! Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant opened its doors to the public in Canada on December 8th, 2015. It has been a long wait, but it’s here! The timing worked out PERFECTLY with my plans that my friend Susan and I were lucky enough to visit the restaurant the second day of its opening.

Jamie’s Italian Restaurant in Canada is located at Yorkdale Mall in Toronto. It’s a bit far up north in Toronto but I knew it’d be worth the trip. The restaurant is attached to the mall but the entrance is from the outside. The opening hours are from 11am – 11pm daily (yes, weekends too).

Susan and I arrived at the restaurant around 11:30am (yes, 11:30 in the morning). Like any sit down restaurant, upon walking in, you are greeted by lovely hostesses. At this restaurant, one of them opens the door when you enter AND exit the restaurant! Another checks the schedule and the last hostess directs you to your table. As we were walking to our table, I noticed that the interior decor of the restaurant is very rustic. It’s got brick walls, wooden tables and chairs. Susan and I were seated at a booth, which had a gastropub-like feel to them. My favourite part of the booth tables was the light fixture. It’s quite retro.

Our booth was actually near the kitchen. The kitchen is wide open, for the public to see. I like when restaurants do that. It really brings the together the whole dining experience.

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After being seated, our server came and handed us the menu. I love love love the design of the menu. It’s typography is on point!

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Our server told us about the daily special which I believe was a pasta with some deli cured meats. He also mentioned that some of the items on the menu were sold out. He did tell us that if we wanted pastas, they came in two sizes: Appetizer or Main. We were also told that the washrooms are on the second floor. I don’t think there are dining tables on the second level – I didn’t need to use the washrooms so I never went to check.

I know some people don’t care about the cutlery and dining materials, but I really liked that the restaurant lets customers use the Jamie tea towels during their dining visit. You can actually purchase the towels and a wooden board, branded with Jamie’s logo. They would make great gifts!

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I know, I know. You just want to hear about the food. Well, you’re in luck… it’s time to dig in!

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THE APPETIZER

Susan and I decided to share an appetizer. We originally wanted the Arancini Magherita but that was one of the items sold out. It was one of the items the server forgot to mention :(. We then opted for the Tomato & Ricotta Bruschetta.

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I’m not sure why this wasn’t our first choice since the night before I mentioned to Susan that I was craving lasagna with ricotta cheese. So the ricotta in this dish was perfect for me.

On the menu, this dish is as described:

Artisanal ricotta, basil & tomatoes on garlicky-rubbed ciabatta

It doesn’t sound anything too special, but you can’t go wrong with bruschetta, even if it sounds plain.

When it arrived, I was surprised that it was served with only one piece of the ciabatta. Luckily it was just two of us dining. If there were more to our party, this appetizer would definitely not be enough nor easy to split.

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I thought the ricotta would be a bit warm but it was actually cold. It kind of looks like mashed potato, to be honest. Since Susan and I split the dish, we both had our first bites consisting of just the ricotta. It was creamy and very cheesy (duh!) but once you got to have a bite with both the tomato and ricotta paste, they paired perfectly together. The seasoning of the tomatoes was superb. Honestly, it was my favourite part of the dish. And the ciabatta was toasted nicely; it wasn’t rock solid. It had a soft, toasty centre that matched the toppings very well. For $9.95, this dish was a little pricey but it was quite tasty.

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THE MAINS

It took a while for Susan and I to decide what we wanted. We both were stuck on the same two items, so we ordered them both to share (Sharing is caring!).

We ordered the Honeycomb Cannelloni and the Porcini Fettuccine.

I’ll start off with the Honeycomb Cannelloni.

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The dish arrives in a circular bowl. The bowl was hot so it was placed on top of a wooden board, making it much easier for the server to bring it your table.

On the menu, this is the description of the dish:

With spinach, artisanal ricotta, tomato passata, mascarpone & Bella Lodi

At first glance, I thought it would be difficult to grab a cannellone (singular of cannelloni) but it actually wasn’t. I scooped it out with a fork and used the knife to hold it in place. The cannelloni sits on a tomato passata with a layer of melted cheese. To give it more cheese, we had Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top :).

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I know  the photo above is really gross looking but when you open the cannellone, inside is the spinach. It’s pretty much a spinach puree party. However, there is a hint of lemon. It was a little weird to have the inside be purely spinach, but I like spinach so I didn’t mind.

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I’ll be honest. This dish was alright. My main issue with it was the saltiness. The first cannellone had a really salty mint leaf. I told Susan to try getting a bite of everything because I thought it was the seasoned mint that was salty. My next one was the cannellone shell itself, then it was only half the cannellone. Susan and I were confused as to what made it salty. We still can’t figure it out! We did find that if you grabbed some of the tomato passata, it helped toned down the saltiness. And if you’re a fan of tomato sauces, you’ll love the tomato passata. It looks like a plain tomato sauce, but it’s got great flavour to it. The price of this dish is $16.95, which isn’t too bad. However, the mysterious saltiness will keep me from ordering this dish again.

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Now onto the second main: Porcini Fettuccine.

Fettuccine dishes are my go-to pasta dishes, so it was a no-brainer that this was one of the dishes I wanted to try. This dish is one of the pastas that comes in the two sizes. Since Susan and I were sharing, we opted for the Main size. To be honest, I could have finished a Main size on my own for 11:30am…no joke!

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Here’s the description of the Porcini Fettuccine:

Wild & field mushrooms, mascarpone, garlic, white wine, lemony gremolata, Parmigiano Reggiano & pangrattato

The wild & field mushrooms sounds so delightful in the description that you’d expect a creamy sauce to complement the fettuccine. And that’s exactly what comes with it! The dish also comes with a spoon of pangrattato. Susan and I had no idea what it was when we ate it. We did forget what it was called in the menu, but as I’m writing this post, I’ve done my research. If you’re unfamiliar with pangrattato, it’s essentially breadcrumbs. Apparently, it’s a thing to sprinkle it on pasta! Though, I actually wasn’t too fond of it. The texture remind me of fried onions/fried shrimp that you sprinkle on some Asian dishes. It kind of required more chewing for the dish.

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Now back to the sauce. As I mentioned, it is creamy and it was the perfect viscosity (I haven’t used this term since my lab writing days in university!). It wasn’t wet nor runny. It was perfectly creamy and the right amount of sauce. As for the fettuccine, I noticed that it was slightly under cooked but not in a bad way and I think it was intentional. The fettuccine wasn’t fully soft – it had a light toughness to it, as if it was it was slightly burnt if that makes any sense. I actually prefer certain noodles to be cooked like that. I find it tastes better than having a really soft noodle, specifically for pastas.

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If you do order this dish, PLEASE have Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. As you can see, we had a nice amount of it sprinkled but for me, I think it needed PLENTY more. When we mixed the dish, I found that the Parmesan cheese blended right into the sauce, becoming a bit obsolete. So add A LOT of Parmesan cheese. It’s worth it, trust me.

At the time I couldn’t tell which dish I liked the most, but I’ve come to the conclusion that the Porcini Fettuccine tasted better, just without the pangrattato ;). The fettuccine dish for a Main size was $17.95, which is pretty average for the price. And it really was a great dish. I definitely recommend it.

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THE DESSERTS

Originally we planned on not getting dessert, as we were slightly full. But when one of the servers handed us the dessert menu, we had to look. Upon browsing, we decided to share one dessert. Of course, we were stuck on what to order.

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It was between the Amalfi Lemon Meringue Cheesecake and the Creamy Panna Cotta. So we decided, again, to order both and share. I mean, we might as well go all out on our first visit, right? 😀

Both desserts came at the same time, but I’ll start off with the Amalfi Lemon Meringue Cheesecake. On the menu, it is as described:

Velvety mascarpone & lemon cheesecake topped with Italian meringue, lemon curd & seasonal fruit compote

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I was actually afraid that this would be too sour. I’m more of a sweet-tooth so that’s why I’m always hesitant when ordering lemon items. But this was not sour at all…well, the cheesecake part that is. The cheesecake itself had a nice touch of lemon taste; it was enough to say, “Hey, this is lemon.” It paired nicely with the crust, giving the right amount of tart flavour.

One part that Susan and I did not like was the lemon curd. That’s the yellow sauce-like part surrounding the cheesecake. I mean it sounds great and the colour of it looks great, buuuut it was EXTREMELY sour. If you wanted to pucker your lips, this curd would definitely make you pucker. It also had a metal taste to it. I thought it was the fork creating the taste but it lingered. That’s when I realized it was the lemon curd.

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My favourite part of the cheesecake was the Italian meringue. Look at how high it is! It was soft and fluffy. Even though it looks like a lot of meringue, it complemented well with the cheesecake, creating a nice balance.

Overall, this dish was pretty good. I probably wouldn’t order it again because of the lemon curd, but the cheesecake was baked well. The cost of this dish is $9.25.

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Next and lastly is the Creamy Panna Cotta.

I have heard of Panna Cotta before but I’ve never had it. This would be a first! Susan and I were a bit skeptical when we reading its description, but since it’s an Italian dessert and we were at an Italian restaurant, we had to order it.

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The menu describes it as the following:

Made with Greek yogurt & served with seasonal fruit compote

When I had my first bite, I loved it! It was creamy and had a sweet, tart taste. If you’ve ever had Yogurty’s and tried the tart flavour, it’s that kind of tart taste. It was perfect! Susan and I could not get enough of it! The raspberries were a bit sour but the creaminess of the Panna cotta toned it down. If you do get one of the mint leaves in a bite, there’s quite a separation between the Panna cotta and the mint leaf tastes. It’s not a bad combo but it doesn’t add or do much to the dessert. The Greek yogurt tasted great; I got a hint of a vanilla flavour in it but I’m not entirely sure. Honestly, there’s not much to say about this dessert other than it’s fantastic. I highly recommend this dessert. It is $9.95 which looks pricey for it’s size, but it was so delicious that it’s worth the price.

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CONCLUSION

I’ll start off with the positives. I liked that the servers cleared our dishes after we finished each course. They knew we were sharing the food and instead of letting us keep the first sharing plates, they gave us new ones each time. +1 for clean plates! The place was clean and that’s HIGHLY important. Most of all, the staff was very friendly. I mentioned how lovely the hostesses were but the rest of the staff was just as nice. We had everyone from a cook, to a manager come by to ask us how we were doing. It actually caught us off guard when a server, not our table’s server, came by to just say “hi”. But we had a good laugh about it with them.

Now the negatives. It was disappointing that some of the menu items were sold out. I sort of understand it but also don’t. Also, reservations aren’t being taken right now. I was told through Facebook that they will be taking them starting December 14th. I was hoping that we could book for dates after the 14th, but they aren’t taking any until that date. It’s understandable since the restaurant did just open, so they’ll need to settle in. However, if you’re looking to get a gift card for the restaurant, as of right now, they are not selling any. I didn’t ask when they will be available, which I should have. It would make a great Christmas gift for a fellow foodie, but unfortunately you’ll have to wait.

Overall, I really enjoyed my first visit to Jamie’s Italian Restaurant. Even though I’ve had my best tasting pasta in Paris, the food here is quite flavourful. Truthfully, the friendly and welcoming staff is what made the experience a great one. An A+ for customer service!

Whether you are a fan of Jamie Oliver or not, this place is definitely worth trying out!

 

– Synthia T.
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Eat. Snap. Post.

Another self-proclaimed foodie.

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