What’s on the menu at Annabelle Pasta Bar, a new Italian restaurant from the Lil’ Baci team

What’s on the menu at Annabelle Pasta Bar, a new Italian restaurant from the Lil’ Baci team

Name: Annabelle Pasta Bar
Contact: 909 Davenport Rd., no phone, annabellerestaurant.com, @annabelleresto
Neighbourhood: Wychwood
Owners: Mark Bacci (Lil’ Baci, Bob), Suresh Singh and Riyaz Somani
Chef: Brandyn Koester (Lil’ Baci)

The food

Every day, the trio of pasta dishes scrawled on the blackboard changes. On one visit, there’s a there’s a cacciatore pappardelle. The next, a hearty rigatoni topped with eggplant and fior di latte. Often, there are even less-common house-extruded pastas on offer, like calametti (calamari ring–shaped noodles) or trofie (a short, twisted one). “There’s always at least one vegetarian option and one with braised meat,” says Koester. The moderate price point ($10 for any pasta) encourages guests to enjoy sharing a few small plates, like fried baby octopus or roasted peppers with marinated anchovies, before the main event.

Koester cooks teeny baby octopi sous vide before battering and deep frying them. This luxe spin on calamari swaps out the marinara sauce for a caramelized tomato-onion jam. $12.


This zucchini-arugula salad with chorizo and parm is dressed with a juice lemon and olive oil ($11). And while Annabelle’s cannot support pizza making, Koester makes bread from a 10-year-old mother dough saved from the now-closed uptown location of Lil’ Baci. It’s proofed for two days, giving it a chewy sourdough quality ($6).


Shrimp and octopus with roasted fingerling potatoes and olives. $13.


Koester braised a beef chuck and pork shoulder for six hours to make this ragu. $10.


The drinks

The exclusively Italian wine card ranges from $7 glasses of Tuscan red to a $160 bottle of 2011 Brunello di Montalcino. Here, the cocktail du jour (well, of every jour) is the negroni, which gets reinvented six different ways. Some of the variations get pretty creative (one features beet juice, another goes full-on orange with orange-infused Dillon’s gin, orange blossom water and orange bitters).

The Negroni Fizzante is a light, refreshing negroni knockoff that’s made with Dillon’s Gin, Campari, Guerra Rojo and prosecco. $12.


The space

The 44-seat, two-storey spot is super homey, thanks to a warm colour palette of aubergine, brick and wood. There’s even a collection of co-owner Mark Bacci’s black-and-white family photos hung over the stairwell, giving the space a family dining room feel. In its previous life, this 800-square foot restaurant was a convenience store (its owner actually used the second floor as a karaoke practice space, much to her neighbours’ chagrin).