“College was great,” says Coco Lezzone owner Steven Salari, “but now we’re more refined.”
While we know Coco Lezzone for the fish and the seafood, at the end of the day we come because it’s an Italian restaurant with vibrant bold flavours. Salari tells us that in addition to the fish and grilled meats, gluten-free pasta has become very popular. There are taste thrills to be found in the appetizers, including an added pizza section. Calamari is big. Dressed with a jalapeño aioli, it’s got a kick that keeps on kickin’. The grilled Moroccan octopus, cooked over an hour and a half with the same recipe he’s used for fourteen years, is the best octopus in the city. “It’s the way we do it. Anybody who orders it, they love it.”
The ingredient to Salari’s success? Personal service with his clients. “If you want a chicken Caesar or a salmon Caesar, we’re very flexible with what people want, and it only takes two seconds to change it”. It’s the honesty of classic Italian cuisine in an upscale Ave & Dav ambience. The room is sexy (lighting is everything) with white leather booths, and the bar invites us to linger and have another glass of wine. Around the restaurant we see a mixed crowd of businessmen in conversation, couples and families dining out, and singles mingling at the bar. There is a private chef’s table, and an even more discreet private dining room where friends come to celebrate.
For me, the true test is the tomato sauce. Linguine pomodori is a tribute to traditional fare. Caprese salad is a stack of thickly layered tomatoes and boconncini with swirls of sweet basil balsamic dressing, and a basket of homemade, olive-studded rolls. I’m happy. The signature dish is whole grilled striped bass that serves two admirably. I am eyeing a plate of veal scaloppini being enjoyed at a neighbouring table—it’s in my little black book to order when I return to check out the $1 oyster Tuesdays.
www.cocolezzone.com | 137 Avenue Road, Toronto | 416-975-1717