Fieramosca, nestled on quiet, leafy Prince Arthur Avenue, near downtown Toronto’s upscale Yorkville neighbourhood, is a gem. For 37 years, the restaurant has cultivated a large and loyal following eager to chow down on first-rate homestyle Italian fare in an ambience that is as warm and familiar as one’s own home. Indeed, the restaurant’s two main dining rooms — white tablecloths, dark wainscoting, framed paintings, statuary, comfy armchairs, antique sideboard — are instantly welcoming.
The kitchen, helmed, for the past 25 years, by chef Thiru, is better than ever. For example, minestrone soup is a model of its kind, the plentiful diced veg al dente in their tomato-strong broth. Equally good is a silky soup built on intense and sweet pureed carrot and zinged authoritatively with ginger. A nightly salad of baby arugula, chunks of buttery avocado and crumbled goat cheese in a restrained balsamic vinaigrette is simple perfection.
And I can’t remember when I’ve had a better eggplant parmigiana. Custard-textured, melt-in-the-mouth eggplant is layered with oozing mozzarella and parmigiano reggiano cheeses and sugar-sweet tomato sauce. I could easily make a meal of it!
Chef Thiru’s pastas shine, too. In one, al dente tagliatelle is tossed with earthy sautéed porcini, shiitake and oyster mushrooms in a light cream sauce kissed with white wine. In the other, spaghettini is tossed with fresh, summer-perfect tomato and basil.
Superb mains include tender (and generous!) pieces of veal scaloppine lavished with white wine lemon sauce, and a fat slab of halibut, sautéed in lemon butter until it’s wonderfully moist, tender and smoky.
The kitchen sends out a couple of first-rate desserts, including a moist and spicy carrot cake, and a house-made tiramisu that is feather-light, boozy and coffee-intense.
Further enhancing the experience is a service team that is deft and professional.
Group dining options include full buyouts for the restaurant, which seats 110 people (combined seating on main level and upstairs private dining room).
A second-floor private room can accommodate up to 40 people, which includes 20 seated on the upper-level terrace, available when weather permits. Groups can choose from the signature a la carte menu or can have menus custom-created by the kitchen. Fieramosca offers offsite catering for up to 20 people.
— Don Douloff has been a restaurant critic for over 30 years and, during that time, has critiqued more than 1,500 eateries. In 1988, he studied the fundamentals of French cuisine at Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris, France. During his time in France, he furthered his gastronomic education by visiting the country’s bistros, brasseries and Michelin-starred temples of haute cuisine. He relishes exploring the edible universe in his native Toronto and on his travels throughout Canada and abroad.