I walk into the tipsy shaped doorway of Piazzeta Trattoria into the cool, darkish terra cotta hued room. The late sun of the day gives it a photographic feel. All I need is a black dress, let my hair down and, best of all, be the tall elegant twenty-something I once was - just like the woman in that iconic Italian Ruth Orkin photo. The Vespa's are parked in front of Piazzeta, but the only other thing missing are the men whistling...
Trattoria's, by definition, suggest small intimate neighbourho
od dining spots. They also suggest a familial atmosphere with the give and take that close relationships demand;
this is so evident in the dining room of here. Co-owner Alena, a ringer for the young Sophia Loren, takes me in and immediately makes me at home. The trattoria quickly fills up, just like the restaurant's hallway that's filled with drawings from the children of their patrons or as Alena jokingly refers to them as "her kids". (There's a second floor dining room for private parties and weekend overflow, too.)
The wine list and menu are all Italian. If the ingredients aren't local or from Italy, then the products are house made. Fresh organic Ontario melon holds up the melt-in-my-mouth house cured prosciutto ($8); not overly salty at all when compared to commercially sourced prosciutto. I imagine a bracing glass of Frascati would be nice; Alena has it and delivers it, pronto.
The Insalata di Cetrioli ($7) is an Italian take on the Greek village salad, and I try it because it's so unexpected, yet familiar for a Mediterranean style setting like this. The crumbled goat cheese is super fresh, ditto the vegetables and the dressing is mezzo mezzo - not too much, not too little. That lovely simple, crisp white wine softens the bite of the goat cheese and brings me back to Rome. (Although my first salad in Rome was an Insalata Capreseâ€¦)
The word burning oven for pizzas has been at Piazzeta since day one, when they opened in 1993. Classic thin crusts with no fuss ingredients are all $10 but additions
are a little bit extra. Of note are the gluten free crusts. As Alena says, "Why shouldn't everyone have the pleasure of enjoying pizza? So many people who have wheat allergies can try the real thing here," she adds, with real concern for her patrons who have special dietary needs.
I should have something from that glorious oven but the Grilliata Di Pesce ($27) is what I'm after. Chef Mario has been with co-owners Tim and Alena since the start and he hums and sings under his breath. A quartet of seafood offerings are the jumbo tiger shrimp, massive grilled squid and filets of baby Sea Bass paired with salmon, touched with white wine, olive oil, lemon and garlic. The seafood is served with seasonal veggies atop a small mountain of mashed potatoes which seems different for the Mediterranean, dish, but it allows me the luxury of trapping all the sauce.
Like a photograph, Piazzeta Trattoria helps to capture warmth, intimacy and care in the best way possible; by offering great food and hospitality.