When a group of adults celebrating a birthday can genuinely enjoy a meal in the same space as parents with spirited young children, you know you’ve achieved the “neighbourhood eatery” distinction.
Although Francobollo Posto Italiano prides itself as being casual, the decor suggests otherwise – opulent chandeliers, Sarah Richardson-esq wallpaper, and softly dimmed lighting. But despite the posh decor, and high end real estate (the restaurant is located in the Lytton Park area of Toronto), Francobollo is indeed the best of both worlds – sort of like watching the hockey game wearing a pashmina wrap.
This restaurant was on my to-eat list, so I was thrilled with the opportunity to write a review. It’s part of the Substance Group of restaurants, which also includes Terra in Thornhill; Sarpa in Richmond Hill; and Rusty’s at Blue in the Town of the Blue Mountains. Although I vaguely recall visiting Rusty’s, I don’t think shots of tequila at a bachelorette party counts as properly tasting the culinary offerings.
Our server was by far the most genuinely enthusiastic person I’ve encountered in a restaurant. With a new menu being rolled out by James Bradden who recently came on board as Head Chef, our server was keen for us to try everything. And with exquisite descriptions of each dish, we were tempted to do so. I follow a vegan diet, which was a non-issue for her as she patiently worked with me to amend dishes.
In the past, I may have been overheard saying, “now that’s a shiraz!” while sipping a cabernet sauvignon. Consequently, my partner swiftly took it upon himself to choose two glasses of wine from a thoughtfully curated list. Warm, melt-in-your-mouth, focaccia was promptly placed between us to ward off hunger pangs (and replenished, as necessary).
I ordered the Market Vegetarian Antipasto to start. This involved a generous grilled portobello mushroom cap, stuffed with al dente barley risotto, sautéed greens, marinated roasted red peppers, and pea shoots. On one hand, the size could have been slightly smaller. On the other hand, I could have controlled myself and not eaten the entire portion.
My dining partner opted for the Rucola e Funghi, which translates into arugula salad with crispy oyster mushrooms, toasted pistachios, parmigianno, white truffle oil, and prosciutto. He’s highly averse to fungi, while I’m certain I was a mushroom forager in a past life. Ever the peace-maker, our server brought a pile of crispy mushrooms to me on a side dish, and I’ve since written her into my will.
My main dish was Buckwheat Parppardelle, with forest mushrooms, cavolo nero (relax people, it’s just kale), toasted pine nuts, and an olive oil so stunning, I would have it piped into my house if I could. My partner ordered the Pumpkin and Veal Ravioli with green pistachio, burnt butter, shaved reggiano, sage, and white truffle oil. Typically no one burns his butter on purpose, so he felt a bit “VIP” while eating this dish.
Spacing between courses was spot on. There was enough time to relax and really taste the food, without ever feeling rushed. By 7:30pm the restaurant had a full house and the noise volume was elevated. This meant that despite the close proximity of tables, potential eavesdroppers wouldn’t have been able to hear our conversation about Downton Abbe…er, I mean, topical world issues.
Toronto Life recently penned this restaurant as, “calm and polished”. I agree, and would add, “relaxed and inclusive” to the mix. Francobollo offers thoughtful gourmet cuisine without worrying too much about what’s in your teeth.
This restaurant is perfect for groups of friends and families, young and old. Book early for a table during peak times, as it clearly fills up fast.