Porzia’s timing is both good and bad. On the one hand, the owner-chef Basilio Pesce lucked out by opening just before the moratorium on Parkdale’s party-hopping strip, which means the wood-clad room vibrates with indie music, Barolo-thickened conversation and spring flirtation. On the other hand, his simple Italian restaurant arrived two years late to the rustic Italian party, after most Toronto diners have had their fill of hand-rolled ravioli. The menu doesn’t bring many surprises, but if you’re craving osso bucco or pork belly or salumi, Pesce’s are good. His chicken liver agnolotti are little joy bombs, with their chewy, al dente edges and rich, salty filling. Likewise, the fried sweetbreads are obscenely plump and brightly offset by a puddle of tangy Romesco sauce. A few blips, like an overly fishy hamachi crudo and the sprigs of flat-leaf parsley garnishing nearly every plate, are easily overlooked, especially after a fizzy Aperol cocktail and a couple of olive oil cookies.
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