By on April 4, 2011

At last it is Saturday, my new favorite day of the week. For two long weeks now I have been happily anticipating dinner at Fabbrica on the gracious invitation of owner Mark McEwan. After a long day at work I finally made my way home and into my new dress, excitedly awaiting my 8 o’clock dinner reservation.

We arrived at Fabbrica at 8p.m. sharp (located at 49 Karl Fraser Road, across the street from McEwan Gourmet Grocery Store) and let the hostesses know we had arrived; they had been expecting us. We were instantly greeted by a bustling and exciting atmosphere, filled with scents of Italy. Initially we were disappointed to learn that our table wasn’t quite ready, but our mood brightened immediately when we learned that it was a special table selected just for us by Mark. Smiles re-appeared on our faces and we agreed to wait patiently. A few minutes passed before the ladies approached us once more to let us know that the table was still not ready, but that there was another table we could have… we were getting hungry, so we decided to take it. As we were lead through the large restaurant, I noticed that there were all types of people in attendance, couples and groups of friends varying in age, and even families with young children. We were taken through the lounge and bar area into a more open feeling dining room that was a little more brightly lit than the bar/lounge and seated at a small table for two. Moments after sitting down we received a warm welcome from General Manager Tiffany Smith Diggins. Tiffany suggested we start with some drinks. We decided on a Bellini, a delightful little mixture of peach and Champagne. Delivered promptly, this turned out to be the perfect choice, crisp and fresh, not too sweet.

As we sipped our drinks we were greeted by Fabricca’s executive chef Rob LeClair. He too gave us a friendly welcome and was not hard to look at I might add! He made us feel right at home and told us he had something special in his pizza oven to start our evening off. After a minute or two of friendly conversation we decided that we were absolutely in the hands of the best, and prepared to be whisked away on an adventure into fine Italian cuisine.

Our journey began with Funghi Pizza; mushrooms, truffle crema and mozzarella on crisp and chewy crust. This dish was creamy and dreamy, a comfort food classic. Mmm, to die for.

It was the evening of earth hour. At 8:30 the lights in the dinning room were dimmed considerably. In the candlelight it was cozy and fun. We were thoroughly impressed that the restaurant observed earth hour.

Next was a selection of antipasti, many items straight from the in-house salumi. Finocchinoa, Capicollo, and Calabrese, just to name a few. We learned that the meat is raised by a local farmer who grows his own feed and cures the meat in the traditional way before it makes its way to Fabbrica’s salumi to be aged. Attention to every detail shows the passion and work that goes into all the ingredients Rob uses in his dishes. Rob paired this dish with a wonderful red wine; Rubio- San Polo, 2008, which complimented the meats and cheeses perfectly.

Two salads followed; Barbabietale, a delicious combination of roasted beets, prosciutto, goat cheese, candied pistachio, grana padano and arugula. I can honestly say that I have never been a fan of beets, but the way Rob prepared them, I was converted. Yum! Yum! Yum! Healthy and heavenly! Second was Polipo; octopus, ceci bean, salami, peperonata, baby arugula and chili. I have truly never tasted octopus this tasty in my entire life. It was prepared absolutely exquisitely. One of the best parts about these dishes was I most certainly did not feel guilty eating either one and would absolutely recommend either of them to all the ladies out there and I do believe they are hearty enough to satisfy even the men. All the different tastes and textures made for two completely satisfying dishes. Paired with a white wine; Vermentino- Doga della Clavule, 2009 from Tuscany.

Then came the entrees. Rob brought us two amazing looking pasta dishes; Fettuccine served with crab, guanciale, cream and a soft poached egg, as well as Gnocchi; made from imported Italian flour and served with fresh tomato, basil and burrata. I decided immediately before even sampling the Fettuccine that I liked it; anything with crab and a poached egg is dear to my heart, and after tasting it I knew I had made the right judgment. HOWEVER, the feeling I would get after trying the Gnocchi would supersede any pleasure I had experienced thus far. This dish was the highlight of the entire evening. The passion I felt tasting each bite of Gnocchi was a feeling like no other; it was fresh and flavorful like nothing I’d ever tasted before. I instantly find myself in a passionate love affair with this dish… To this day I can’t seem to get this thought-consuming dish out of my mind! I quite literally needed a moment to cool off after each bite, which was easily done with a healthy sip of Pinot Grigio- Bertiolo 2009 from Friuli.

The excitement flowing through my body after this course made for the ideal opportunity to try out the cocktail I’d been eyeing up; the Signora, villa de varda Pinot Grigio, vodka, muddled grapes, Elderflower cordial and white cranberry juice. This ultra-feminine, martini-style cocktail is not one for the weak. I really enjoyed the flavors, and was definitely feeling pretty good after even the first sip. I would absolutely enjoy one of these deceivingly dainty cocktails to kick-start any night out with friends, (just make sure you’ve had a hearty helping of one of Rob’s dishes prior!)

Our two final entrees were Pettini—seared scallops, grappa soaked raisins, fried capers and toasted almonds, and Bistecca—grilled 10 oz P.E.I. grass fed striploin served with Gorgonzola butter. The sight of these two dishes rendered me speechless. I am a HUGE lover of seafood and THE biggest fan of a good steak, especially if it’s served rare, which is exactly how Rob prepared this gorgeous cut of beef. (Friends, take note, there is honestly no better way into my heart then a nice juicy rare steak.) The scallops were delightful, and fried capers, mmmm, does it get any better then this? The answer; YES! The Striploin with Gorgonzola butter was a dish to die for. The meat was prepared EXACTLY how I like it, as though Rob had read my mind, and the ‘ooy-gooey-ness’ (for lack of a better term) that topped it off was simply superb. I could eat this dish every single day (if only bikini season wasn’t right around the corner!) These two entrées were served with our favorite wine of the evening; Aglianico ‘Beneventano’- Crea Vini 2008 from Campania. These two dishes paired together would be ideal to share on a date.

After so many delicious dishes, I had almost forgotten to save room for dessert! It is so easy to get caught up in the whirlwind that takes over in trying so many amazing dishes, after all, food is simply such a passion for me. However, I would never turn down dessert, so on with the show we went.

Two beautiful little creations were placed before us, and instantly the ooh-ing and aww-ing began. Our selections were Tiramisu di Fabbrica; white chocolate sponge, espresso mousse, amaretto mouse and frappucino, as well as Zeppole; warm doughnuts, cinnamon sugar, orange cream and white chocolate sauce… (Pause for mouth-watering to subside.) The Tiramisu done Fabbrica’s special way was the BEST I have EVER tasted. YOU MUST SAVE ROOM FOR THIS! The flavors and textures are best described as FRESH and BURSTING! Followed by many MMMMMMMMMMMM’s! I had to stop, put my fork down and take a moment of silence… Literally. As for the doughnuts; they were served freshly made and still warm with a luscious orange filled centre—the perfect little bite of Italian citrus heaven!

Not only were the dishes and décor exquisite at Fabbrica, but also the service was absolutely on-point. We simply could not have asked for two better hosts then Tiffany and Rob. By the end of the evening we knew we were among friends. Listening to Rob speak so passionately and pronounce the names of all the Italian dishes and ingredients was like poetry to my ears. Hearing him talk about his art and his past experiences, I felt like a blushing little girl in la-la land. A handsome and talented man talking about food and serving me some of the most delicious authentic Italian cuisine I’ve ever tasted? I mean come on! Life doesn’t get much better than this my friends!

The menu truly has something for every taste and every budget. The dishes range in cost from $9 to $65, and are worth every last penny. The atmosphere is cozy, and absolutely family-friendly.

I want to extend a sincere thank you to Mark McEwan for the invitation to attend one of his four amazing restaurants. I also want to thank Tiffany and Rob for such a warm welcome and an unforgettable evening.

Buon Appetito!

Fabbrica is located at 49 Fraser Road, Toronto, Ontario

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