A year and a half after St. Clair fixture Filippo’s ended its more than 20-year run, the paper has finally come off the windows to reveal Catch, a new seafood restaurant. Owner Frank Pronesti had already made his mark on the St. Clair West restaurant strip as owner of The Rushton and one of the original partners at Ferro. After a year-long renovation that left nothing of the original space aside from the exposed brick, the elegant 40-seat room is a far cry from its predecessor. Pronesti has assembled a team stacked with East Coasters to execute his Mediterranean-inspired concept.
Running the front of house is P.E.I. native John Bil, a three-time Canadian oyster-shucking champion (Starfish and Rodney’s are the other two restaurants in town boasting a staff member with this title). Bil co-owned a seafood restaurant in Darnley, P.E.I., and managed an oyster farm on the east coast before recently heading west. Fellow maritimer Nigel Finley, who started out frying fish in his native Halifax, helms the kitchen following a stint as head chef at Bloor West Village’s Bloom. Finley’s menu consists of a variety of small plates that draw inspiration from the cuisines of Greece, Morocco and Spain.
Sourcing sustainable seafood daily from a variety of Oceanwise-certified suppliers, Finley will change the menu often to take advantage of seasonality. A pan-seared filet of Arctic char sauced with tarragon beurre blanc is accompanied by roasted artichokes, Kalamata olives and cherry tomatoes ($16); fresh clams are oven-baked with tomato and pork belly ($16); the mandatory oyster plate (Beach Angels from Quadra Island, B.C., and P.E.I. Cascumpecs on our visit) is served with a trio of classic condiments: red wine vinegar mignonette, fresh grated horseradish and tomato-caper sauce ($18 for six, $36 for a dozen). A short drink list includes such cocktails as Bulleit bourbon with fig, amaretto and soda ($12) and a balsamic and basil Bloody Mary made with fresh tomato juice ($12). The extensive wine list comprises unusual selections from both the old and the new world. Come warmer weather, diners will be able to enjoy their oysters al fresco as they watch the streetcars go by on the street-side patio facing The Rushton.
Catch, 744 St. Clair West, 416-658-0568, catchit.ca