Why Ufficio’s stuffed trout is an essential Toronto dish
Toronto’s a city of many neighbourhoods and many nationalities, so finding that one oh-so-Toronto dish is an impossible task. We're asking some of the city’s top food folks about their favourite T.O. meals
Dara Gallinger, the owner of Brodflour—a flour mill and bakery in Liberty Village—spent 13 years in Montreal. During her extended stay there, Gallinger was spoiled by the city’s food scene. (She worked at Joe Beef, so you can imagine her food connections were top drawer.) When it came to what was going on in her hometown of Toronto, though, she relied on her mom for restaurant tips. According to Gallinger, her mom knows all the great spots in Toronto before everyone else does.
Shortly after moving back home, Gallinger and her mom went for dinner at Ufficio on Dundas West, and the seafood-focused spot quickly became Gallinger’s favourite haunt. “It has a Montreal feel to it; it’s very welcoming,” she says. “It’s also a great date spot—I’ve had dozens of first dates here over the past few years.” Even on nights when Gallinger didn’t have a date, she’d pull up to the bar to knock back glasses of baco noir and people-watch. Over time, Gallinger grew close to co-owner Jenny Coburn. (The two bonded over the topic of spirituality, and they share the same energy reader now.)
Gallinger keeps returning to Ufficio for one dish in particular: the stuffed trout. “I’m always drawn to a lake fish whenever it’s on a menu,” says Gallinger. The trout reminders Gallinger of being a young tomboy, fishing up north in the summers. “There’s nothing more Canadian than eating lake fish,” says Gallinger. She comes here almost weekly to order the trout.
Ufficio’s Trota Ripiena
1214 Dundas St. W., 416-535-8888, ufficiorestaurant.com
To make the fish, chef Ivana Raca cleans the trout then butterflies the stomach, which she stuffs with breadcrumbs, green olives, mint, parsley, basil and onions. The fish is trussed and thrown onto the grill for a few minutes a side. The trout’s then finished in the oven. Before it goes out to the table whole, a caper brown butter sauce is poured over top.
On this particular day, Gallinger dug into the trout with a side of chestnut spelt flour gnocchi. After she began to mill her own flour, Gallinger knew the next step to growing her business would be to sell her flours to restaurants. She decided she wanted to sell to restaurants that line up with her ethics, and Ufficio came first to mind: while she loves the food at Ufficio, she also appreciates that Ufficio is a women-owned business.
Recently, Coburn and Gallinger have been batting around the idea of opening up a women-only version of Soho House. They’re both successful queer women who have found there are no female-dominated spaces in Toronto. “There are women-only nights here and there, but we don’t have a real space of our own.”