Rob Gentile from Buca Restaurants is to Toronto, what Michele Forgione from Impasto is to Montreal. If you’re not a foodie or chef groupie, as we’ve christened ourselves, this may not mean much to you. Needless to say Rob Gentile is known for his exquisite Italian cuisine, as is Michele Forgione. Unfortunately we had never been to any of the Buca Restaurants but P’tit Soeur always raved about them. Imagine our glee when we found out that Rob Gentile was taking over Impasto’s kitchen for an unforgettable event.
It was only one seating, and at 150$ without wine, it was an expensive night but we were too intrigued to resist. Girls’ night will never be the same again after such a phenomenal dinner, how will anything else compete? Diva #1, Sweet Pea, Chomedey’s Double D and P’tit Soeur aka Rob Gentile’s number one fan, were salivating all week when they read Rob Gentile’s Little Italy takeover menu.
He brought his sexy horse prosciutto all the way from Toronto, and we know that some of you will read this and get overly emotional because you’re against eating horse meat – but get over it! It was absolutely delicious and served in a pool of olive oil. The 2009 parmigiano reggiano was from The Cheese Boutique in Toronto, Rob Gentile came to our table and explained that Afrim Pristine is a Maître Fromager, the youngest in the world, and an absolute expert about everything cheese related. With a thickened balsamic reduction, this cheese was incredible.
The live Gaspé scallop was served with bergamot, fermented buttermilk and sunflower. Simple, creamy and delicious. Squid ink gnocco fritto were pockets that you opened up and placed your tuna n’duja inside – it was perfection. And of course, the famous Buca nodini, little bread knots soaking in olive oil were to die for. Made simply with bread flour, semolina flour, fine sea salt, garlic and rosemary, the nodini are worth a visit to Buca alone. But if you’re feeling creative, try making them at home, Rob Gentile gave the recipe to the Toronto Star, click HERE.
Puntarelle is a variant of chicory and it has a bitter taste. It can be eaten raw or cooked, and in Rome they are traditionally eaten raw with the leaves stripped and the shoots soaked in cold water until they curl. We enjoyed them with cured yolk, dill and a hemp nut gremolata – it was a modern twist on the traditional puntarelle Roman salad. The other antipasto was a peperoni arrostiti, cured New Brunswick smelts served on roasted red peppers with squid ink salt. Delicious and not too fishy, the roasted peppers were smoky and the cured smelts were not too salty.
Our favourite dish of the night was the pork blood gnocchi with n’duja, sofritto and rapini. It was incredible, Rob Gentile truly mastered this dish. Italian sofritto is a foundation of many sauces. Traditionally it is composed of finely chopped parsley and onion, with olive oil. These ingredients are lightly browned as a base to most sauces. The pork blood gnocchi were delicious, and the smoked burrata with olive oil that topped the dish was the perfect creamy addition to this bold gnocchi.
Sweet Pea and P’tit Soeur exclaimed that Buca’s milk fed piglet cottechino tastes nothing like their nonna’s – and that was a compliment! Cottechino is a charcuterie meat similar to salami but requires cooking at low heat for hours. Rob Gentile’s cottechino was served with camouflage peas, pimbina which is similar to cranberries, and sunchoke which is another word for Jerusalem artichoke, in a silky basil broth. The presentation was delicious and the combination of flavours remarkable.
We were bursting at the seams, P’tit Soeur was creepily hunting Rob Gentile, batting her eyelashes, stalking his Instragram, and hoping to catch his attention. We weren’t joking when we said we were chef groupies. She almost fell off her chair when he asked us for one of the pictures that we had taken and posted on Instagram. Girls’ night was getting rowdy!
Branca menta is a mint liquor that’s truly an acquired tasted, and Diva #1 loves it. The first dessert was a Branca menta panna cotta, light and chilled, a palate cleanser for more dessert to come. You can see the vanilla bean in the photo! The tiramisu was our favourite of the desserts, it was light and creamy, and the interior was bursting out of a chocolate shell. The mascarpone was very light and it blew our mind – it was like no tiramisu that we had ever tasted!
At this point we were loosening our pants and looking a little glazed. The food coma had finally set in and we were in need of a serious nap. The last dessert was a mini semolina cake and mini cannoli, perfect with a cappuccino, we could barely take a bite, that’s how full we were. But somehow we managed!
We love Michele Forgione and Stefano Faita for bringing Rob Gentile to Impasto and allowing this Little Italy takeover of their kitchen. This event inspired us to plan a trip to Toronto and go to Rob Gentile’s famous Buca Restaurants. Rob Gentile is lucky that P’tit Soeur didn’t follow him home, she’s the true chef groupie amongst us!
Our Rating: Always on Thursdays
Tagged: Branca Menta, Buca, Cottechino, Event, Gnocchi, Gnocco fritto, Horse Prosiutto, Impasto, Impasto Montreal, Italian, Italian Food, Little Italy, Little Italy Takeover, Michele Forgione, Michele Forgione Impasto, Montreal Event, Montreal Restaurant, New Brunsqick smelts, Nodini, Panna Cotta, Parmigiano reggiano, Pork blood gnocchi, Prosciutto, Prosciutto di Cavallo, Puntarelle salad, Rob Gentile, Rob Gentile Buca, Scallop, Tiramisu, Toronto, Toronto Restaurant