What’s on the menu at Don Alfonso 1890, the first North American outpost of the Michelin-starred Italian restaurant

What’s on the menu at Don Alfonso 1890, the first North American outpost of the Michelin-starred Italian restaurant

Name: Don Alfonso 1890
Contact: 19 Toronto St., 416-214-5888, donalfonsotoronto.com, @donalfonsoto
Neighbourhood: St. Lawrence
Previously: Rosewater
Owners: Liberty Entertainment Group (Blue Blood, Cibo Wine Bar, Spice Route)
Chefs: Executive chef Saverio Macri (Cibo Wine Bar) in partnership with chefs Alfonso and Ernesto Iaccarino (Don Alfonso 1890)
Head sommelier: Alexander Powell
Bar manager: Oliver Stern (Toronto Temperance Society)

The food

The main floor and private dining room serve an eight-course Italian tasting menu ($150) that features recipes from the Naples restaurant. The meal may include dishes like seared Muscovy duck breast, Canadian ling cod with an Italian herb crust, or some of Iaccarino’s more modern creations (like his “baked egg,” a slow-cooked egg yolk surrounded by burrata foam). Those looking for less commitment can order off an à la carte menu in the mezzanine-level lounge.

 

Don Alfonso’s Ice Creamed Eel is topped with sturgeon caviar, served with wild rose-scented tagliatelle and dressed with wild herbs and pulverized egg yolk.

 

The Vermicelli di Gragnano Mackerel in Carpione style sits in an albacore tuna purée, topped with Sicilian pine nuts and caramelized onions.

 

The Rigatoni Vesuvius hides a tower of rigatoni, organic peas and ricotta di bufala under a sauce made from San Marzano tomatoes. It’s served on a plate made from volcanic ash. (Each course is plated on custom dishes made specifically to highlight the food served.)

 

Bison served in a rustic bread crust wraps seared organic tenderloin in layers of Swiss chard and mozzarella. The plate is dressed with dollops of salsa verde, San Marzano tomato and red chili reduction.

 

The Don Alfonso team includes chef Ernesto Iaccarino (front row, centre) and several chefs from the Italian location who have moved to Toronto.
The drinks

Wine—a lot of wine. A 650-bottle deep wine cellar is stocked with a number of vintages inherited from Rosewater (anyone care for a bottle of Lafite?), and the sommelier-led wine pairing (an extra $100) mixes both Old and New World wines. Stern’s cocktail menu is worth a before- or after-dinner trip to the upstairs lounge: In addition to classic cocktails, he’s created a few playful molecular cocktails, from a two-part mojito to an Aperol-laced take on bubble tea.

Here’s that wine cellar we were talking about.

 

The Affumicato is made with cognac, Cuban rum, house vermouth and cacao liqueur in the style of a Vieux Carré, but is infused with applewood smoke before being poured tableside over a giant ice cube. It’s garnished with a dark chocolate cigar. $28.

 

Bar manager Oliver Stern and the Affumicato.

 

Mojito Then & Now is really two cocktails made from rum, lime and mint. The first is made in the traditional-style with muddled lime and mint. The second is made using liquid nitrogen to freeze and pulverize the mint, before the mojito liquid is frozen into a sorbet. $36.

 

Scooping the sorbet.

 

And the finished product(s).

 

The space

There’s a main dining room, flanked by the open kitchen; a second-floor lounge with its own bar; and a few private dining rooms, one of which looks over the main level.

The main entrance.

 

The roses are a nod to Rosewater, the supper club that occupied the space until recently.

 

Oh, look, more wine.

 

The main dining room, as seen from the mezzanine.

 

And again.

 

The open kitchen.

 

A six-seater table sits right in front of the kitchen’s pass.

 

The more relaxed mezzanine bar serves Stern’s molecular cocktails and the restaurant’s a la carte menu.

 

There are three private rooms: this 16-seater on the mezzanine overlooks the dining room, while two larger ones are found on the lower level.

 

French artist Philippe Pasqua’s “Crane” was the inspiration behind the room’s décor.

 

Don Alfonso now calls the old Consumers’ Gas building home.