Review: Nodo, the Junction’s new red-sauce restaurant, serves crowd-pleasing (if unrefined) classics
2885 Dundas St. W., 416-901-1559
Across from the Indie Ale House microbrewery and beside Cantina’s taco party, comes a solid new red-sauce restaurant—the third point in a triangle of dining trends. The owners are three Italian guys who’ve been friends since high school, and they’ve seemingly instilled that happy, known-you-forever warmth in their servers. The large, checker-board-floored space is entirely comfortable: bare wood tables are topped with bread baskets and banquettes are filled with post-work marrieds. The Sicilian-focused menu is equally as casual, with the extensive boot-based wine list divided by price (bottles under $35, under $55) and the pastas and pizzas outnumbering the tiny mains section by the dozen. The classics are satisfying and made with fresh, quality ingredients, although they lack the refinement (and pretensions) of similar spots, like the Terronis. The pizza crusts are thick, dense and homey in the manner of Vesuvio’s up the street, instead of crisp and air-filled as is the crust standard in post-Libretto Toronto, and the toppings are copious and crowd pleasing, like hot sopressatta, strong black olives and heaps of mozzarella broiled to brown. An enthusiastic server recommends the gnocchi in garlic-cream sauce with fresh corn niblets and truffles. They’re tasty for a few bites, but are undercooked, chewy and lack the truffle pong that would compel you to finish the plate. An obscenely plump burratta pouch, drizzled with excellent fruity olive oil, oozes luscious goo onto late-season heirloom tomatoes that are slightly mealy but who cares when there’s creamy burrata to be scooped up with soft foccacia? Old-fashioned tiramisù and deep-fried cannoli stuffed with house-made ricotta are the simple, sweet stuff of double-spoon dates nights.