Michelin Star Chefs Alfonso and Ernesto Iaccarino of the esteemed Don Alfonso 1890 in Italy, in partnership with Liberty Entertainment Group, have established their first North American location in Toronto, which has now been recognized by Gambero Rosso as the best restaurant opening of the year.
For the past thirty years Gambero Rosso has been Europe’s authority on quality, food and wine, bestowing the coveted “Tre Forchette” (Three Forks) award of excellence for restaurants. This year, the honour has been bestowed upon Toronto’sDon Alfonso 1890.
Toronto chefs working alongside Michelin Star Chef Ernesto Iaccarino are learning from one of the best. It raises their level to the world stage. In celebration, our luncheon with Chef Iaccarino highlights his creative menu. Colourful luscious morsels on crisp chips range from Japanese uni with lemon balm on a squid ink chip, to Tuna tartar on a parsley chip, Bison tartar with basil on a chili chip, and Rockfish ceviche with Buffalo yogurt and cilantro on a turmeric chip. Falling Leaves of silky applewood smoked-yellow fin tuna rest on fava bean and fennel puree with pop-in-your-mouth crisp ginger, fresh mint, pink peppercorns, and a citric expression of grapefruit aioli and orange dust. Each dish is a decoration of ingredients, so delicately and artfully presented. Most unique and impressive, however, is the Rigatoni Vesuvius. This volcanic construction of rigatoni di gragnano, organic peas, ricotta di bufala and polpettine di melanzane e parmigiano is draped in a ragu alla napoletana that is as savoury to the palate as it is appealing to the eye. This is modern Italian cuisine. New to Toronto. And attracting the attention of the world.
By a stroke of luck, I met Don Alfonso Iaccarino and his son Ernesto as a guest at their 2 Michelin Star boutique hotel, Don Alfonso 1890, in Sorrento, never dreaming that we would meet again in Toronto. Their restaurant is a vision of white marble and pale grey walls with white leather chairs and napery. It has taken the city’s collective breath away. Ernesto’s Tasting Menu is fashioned after what he cooks in Italy, and is the same in style and substance. Both the Classic and Vegetarian menus are served in plates designed to enhance the beauty of each dish. Dinner begins with fanciful hors d’oeuvres, a teaser of the seduction to come. First, ice creamed eel is crowned with caviar and accompanied by wild rose-scented tagliatelle. Manitoba bison comes wrapped in a rustic bread crust. Muscovy duck breast is sauced with anise demi-glace. If you’re not up for a multi-course tasting menu, pass the waterfall to the luxe mezzanine lounge where a snack menu and scintillating cocktails are presented. This neo- Renaissance building seems to love the glamour and opulence it now houses.
19 Toronto St; 416-214-5888; donalfonsotoronto.com
Adam Waxman is an award winning travel journalist focusing on food, wine and well being. As well as an actor in film, television and formerly, the Stratford Festival, he is the Associate Publisher and Executive Editor of DINE and Destinations magazine.