What’s on the menu at Gia, Trinity Bellwoods’ new spot for plant-forward Italian

What’s on the menu at Gia, Trinity Bellwoods’ new spot for plant-forward Italian

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Name: Gia
Contact: 1214 Dundas St. W., giarestaurant.ca, @giatoronto
Neighbourhood: Trinity Bellwoods
Owners: Jenny Coburn (Ufficio) and 5D Capital
Chef: Michal Prajs
Seating: 40 indoors, 28 outdoors
Covid-19 safety measures: Frequent sanitization, indoor mask policy, physically distanced tables, contact tracing
Accessibility: Not fully accessible

The food

Gia’s plant-forward menu is not entirely free of animal products, but it leans hard in that direction. With hearty, creative takes on Italian cooking, the food is accessible whether or not you’re familiar with the many uses of nutritional yeast. Vegetables and house-made pasta are the stars of the show in dishes like porcini agnolotti, crispy charred Brussels sprouts and oyster mushroom “calamari,” all of which minimize the use of meat substitutes. Parmigiano Reggiano and burrata are among the restaurant’s sparing use of animal by-products, though you can always opt for vegan parm.

Slices of Gia’s fluffy, crispy-topped focaccia. It’s a Barese-style recipe, the secret to which is the inclusion of potatoes for an extra soft and springy texture. It’s topped with garlic oil and flecks of rosemary and garlic oil. $6.
Almost too pretty to eat, the insalata di radicchio features pink-speckled white radicchio, balls of honeydew melon, coins of Persian cucumber, and sea grapes—a salty oceanic treat with a delightful bubbly texture. Charred citrus juice and tarragon give the dressing plenty of interest. $19.
The baby gem salad getting a solid sprinkle of toasted breadcrumbs, which are made with Gia’s house-made focaccia. It’s a play on a caesar with a few choice additions: pickled honey mushrooms, crispy fried shallots, avocado, and a creamy almond dressing that gets a savoury kick from nutritional yeast and pickling liquid from the mushrooms. $18.
Here it is again—just look how crispy those shallots are. 
Brussels sprouts are seared on cast-iron and drizzled with a lightly sweet vinaigrette of molasses, lemon juice, chili and olive oil. Smoked pine nuts and vegan (or goat) feta top the dish. $15.
Here’s the finished dish.
Handmade porcini mushroom tortelli, waiting for their turn in the pot. The dough is a mix of 00 flour and coarse and fine semolina, with a bit of fresh cracked black pepper for kick.
You can add shaved Italian summer truffles to any pasta for an extra $10. In this case, they top the porcini tortelli you just saw—little pockets of house-made pasta filled with a mix of roasted mushrooms and topped with almond cashew ricotta, truffle butter, kale, and a mix of king oyster and maitakes. Mushroom heaven, basically. $26.
And here it is, covered in truffle shavings.
This vegan, nut-free strawberry pie is the fruit of collaboration between Gia and New Pie Co. There’s thick, oat-based vanilla pastry cream below a curd layer of Ontario strawberries with a hint of lemon. The flaky crust is made with plant-based butter.
It’s finished with more local strawberries and fresh mint. $11 a slice.
The drinks

Cocktails infused with fresh juices and seasonal fruit, like the spritely bourbon-based Pesca Fresca made with Ontario peach purée. Natural and sustainable options feature on the wine list, which is entirely Old World. The beer, meanwhile, is all local—brews from Elora Brewing Company are the main attraction, alongside other great options from Woodhouse and GLB.

Here we have the Pesca Fresca, made with loose-leaf orange pekoe, Lillet Blanc, Woodford Reserve bourbon, lemon, Angostura bitters, a purée of fresh Ontario peaches, and a little hat of Amarena cherries and mint. Just peachy. $17.
The space

Dusty rose upholstery, minimalistic wall décor, and a beautiful herringbone floor give the space a soft, welcoming feel. A walnut-topped bar, complete with a portrait of model Gia Carangi (the restaurant’s namesake), is the centrepiece of the dining room. And for summery days, there’s a sun-drenched patio.

That’s a photo of American model Gia Carangi on the top shelf there. The restaurant’s namesake is often called the world’s first supermodel and was the subject of a heartbreaking biopic starring Angelina Jolie.
Owner Jenny Coburn