Well, they claim at Aprilé Bambina Cucina that they serve “simple Italian food” and that they do. I was drawn to this restaurant (it just opened two and a half weeks ago) while reading Toronto Life’s review as they mentioned that it was owned by the same team as The Wine Bar, which I haven’t been to in a while, but it’s somewhere that I always enjoy that uses sustainable, organic ingredients (you can view my past review from 2009 here).
I called this restaurant, and they told me that they do not take reservations, but since we were going as a family early, it wouldn’t be a problem getting a table. I was excited because they could accomodate a nut allergy, vegan, and gluten-free, plus use quality ingredients and local goodness – that does NOT happen very often (but it really should!!!).
Upon arriving to this Gerrard Street East spot, I was pleasantly surprised by how cool the atmosphere was. The red and white checkered napkins, a bike and accordion mounted on the walls, and super comfy chairs all added to the “oomph”.
The menu has something for everyone. I liked their selection of appetizers from which we chose a bruschetta, a stuffed roma tomato over arugula (super fresh!), and a grilled caesar salad for me. I had enjoyed the grilled caesar at Strada 241 so much, I wanted to try it again. This surpassed Strada’s in my opinion (although I really liked both!). It was larger and dressed much more to my liking. The large garlic crouton that came with it had a great flavour, but was way too difficult to eat – it was very thick and way too hard, but my mom managed to break it up with the pizza cutters they have on the table. They also brought bread, which was great, but white. I would LOVE if restaurants had spelt, whole grain, kamut, gluten-free or alternative to plain crusty breads. Their balsamic vinegar was outstanding – what a burst of flavour! Our waitress was great, and kept refilling our nice little oil and vinegar dish.
I really liked how they served the pizzas whole on round pizza boards. Normally, I would like them to be served already cut, but it’s fun to use the pizza cutter and cut into slices the size you like best. My little brother loved his roasted red pepper and rocket (I just learned that this is another name for arugula!) pizza and my sister and mother really enjoyed their gluten-free pasta dishes. My father’s gluten-free pizza was “ok”, a little small and not much on it, but the crust was way better than the one Strada 241 served. I must say that my pizza was quite enjoyable, however, it isn’t in the same league as the pizza at Libretto by any means!
With the old bluesy type of music playing, and the warmth of the room, and the great service, I look forward to being back here again!
NOTE: They were full very quickly and there was a wait when we were leaving, so get there early!