To anyone who believes the city’s restaurant universe revolves around Jen Agg, her closing of the meat-and-offal-focused Black Hoof in 2018 was unimaginable. Last year, after a remodel and a rethink, she reopened in the same space with an Italian sandwich joint that’s also a wine bar serving upscale small plates and maybe also a late-night haunt with trays of nachos—she’s never shied from concept blurring. The Hoof’s white walls are now covered in posters for Sonic Youth, the Jesus and Mary Chain and other Gen X heroes, the floor in rec room lino. Still no reservations taken, so try your luck. And for the first few months, it was closed on Friday and Saturday to appeal more to locals than weekend partiers. Those locals should be flattered: the pastas are all very good, especially bucatini with bone marrow, braised onions and a powerful shaving of horseradish, though I found a version of cacio e pepe too sweet and lemony. There’s sometimes a terrific tuna crudo with cracked almonds and endive. But the star of the menu is a plate of meatballs flecked with an extra-generous amount of fennel seeds and buried under a blanket of shredded parmesan. They’re just light enough to soak up the accompanying pool of bright, acidic tomato sauce. Everyone orders it—you should, too.
Bar Vendetta, 928 Dundas St. W., barvendetta.com
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