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Best New Restaurants 2012: No. 3 Aria

Best New Restaurants 2012: 3 Aria

Chef Eron NovalksiAria offers a much-needed master class in seduction, dazz­ling us with set dressing before the food even arrives. For starters, the ceiling— three storeys up and adorned with monumental sphere chandeliers—dwarfs diners. And the wine list is the size of a small-town phone book, chronicling a cellar worth $750,000. Chef Eron Novalski’s classic Italian menu doesn’t compete with the room for ostentation. It appeals to palladium cufflink–wearing titans as well as the hoi polloi who stop in for pasta before a Leafs game next door, and he executes most of it beautifully. Luscious chunks of buffalo mozzarella from Capua, for example, are served simply with oven-dried tomatoes and spicy pesto. Hand-hewn bigoli tossed with chunky roasted tomato–garlic sauce and delicate air-dried mullet roe are a humble evocation of Sardinia. Waitresses in black mini-dresses pour grappa at the meal’s end. Glamorous yet approachable, rustic yet refined, Aria reclaims fine dining for our post-recessionary city. 25 York St., 416-363-2742. See our listing for more information »

(Images: Raina and Wilson)

BEST NEW RESTAURANTS 2012No. 1No. 2No. 3No. 4No. 5No. 6No. 7No. 8No. 9No. 102012
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  • Julie

    Terrible servic, I waited 10 minutes at the bar to get a wine list and they werent even very busy. Also lots of the food was battered and deep fried. Not my idea of a best restaurant in Toronto sorely disappointed and only tried it cause I read the TO Life review. I’ll be more cautious in future.

  • jack

    ok , what a joke these reviews are.
    first of all what they write is not accurate ,
    i had the buffala mozzarella , no sun dried tomatoes , no pesto what are they on about

    i ordered the bigoli , now when your paying those prices they should be perfect , well
    1. they didnt salt the water so the pasta was bland , the sauce was very acidic , nad it was not hot , luke warm
    i mentioned to the server and , no repsonse , wow this from a so called top spot , this is what you get for 250 dollars for dinner for two?


    done and done

  • Frank Lloyd

    Well we should try to say positive things about the food here…..go leafs go?

  • Michelle

    Food is terrible. Service is even worse. Probably one of the worst fining dining places in Toronto. Extremely disappointed. Food was unevenly seasoned, and some parts were so inedibly salty. Every single course, the servers had our order mixed up. Throughout the whole dinner, no one came to ask hows our food and if everything was ok even though I left 70% of the entree untouched.

  • Jules

    Not sure I would want to be eating at a restaurant where the chef is pictured holding a cut of meat against his head – hair, sweat etc.

  • Catherine

    I don’t think I have ever-in all the years of reading TO Life-read a review so inaccurate and misleading!!!! First of all-the decor is NOT remarkable in any way-and the chandeliers are nothing spectacular at all! It is a modern, sleek design and decor but nothing to rave about by any stretch-and the view is Maple Leaf Square-facing the ACC!!!!! The restrooms are not in the actual restaurant but in a shared common area and are reminiscent of food court washrooms: filthy and not what one would expect of a “high end” restaurant! Although our meal was good, our service was terrible-our water glasses were always empty-as were our wine glasses and there certainly weren’t “waitresses in black mini-dresses pouring glasses of grappa at meals end”!!!!!! The service was so poor that we opted not to stay for coffee and dessert! Two starters, two mains and one bottle of wine was $400 before tip!!! I expect more for that! I feel bad for the chef and kitchen staff-they do their part but the front of the house just doesn’t deliver. Very disappointing. We will not be back.

  • AC

    “Aria reclaims fine dining…”??????? This was NOT “fine dining” by any stretch of the imagination! We were in Toronto for 5 days and this was by far the worst meal out of all the restaurants we dined at! Although our food was not bad, the service was horrible-inattentive bordering on downright rude! The reviewer obviously got “special service”. Fine dining prices but definitely not a fine dining experience!!!!!!

  • Tania

    My husband and I decided to give Aria a shot on a Friday night, after having had a wonderful experience at its sister restaurant Noce. I am wondering how anyone’s tastebuds, no matter how unrefined the palette may be, can categorize this restaurant as one of the best restaurants of 2012. Our reservation was for 8:00 p.m. We arrived at a restaurant that was sparsely populated. We checked our coats and were initially impressed by the high ceilings and installations. A first glance at the menu and I was immediately interested in the gnocchi special of the day. After waiting for several minutes before a waiter attended to us, I asked him what the gnocchi of the day was. A rich cream sauce with fish. As I did not see any other appealing choices on the menu, and having tried a considerable amount of gnocchi dishes at various establishments in the city, I decided to give this rather hopeful special of the day a shot.

    The gnocchi arrived in a bath of cream sauce and fish. The combination of the three, gnocchi, fish and cream was a rather futile attempt of Aria to steer away from the simple Italian dish. Why would an Italian restaurant even want to distance itself from traditional Italian cooking?

    My husband had munkfish served on lentils, another bad combination, lacking in flavour and a perfect example of innovation gone the wrong way.

    We decided to skip dessert as we had lost all hope by the end of our mains. The best part of our meal was the candy served with the bill. Aria is a fancy space, and well, that is all it is.

  • Bombastic