Post travel first meal back in Toronto : Terroni!

I was just on vacation with a YYZ friend. We spent 8 glorious days in Belize. Neither of us wanted to leave, but our lives back home beckoned and we did board the flight back home even if we tried to hatch plans to stay. It feels silly now, but we had convinced ourselves we could have lived happily on a island with a population of 1200.

Coming back home after a trip – especially one that enchanted me as much as Belize did – is never easy. I typically miss the promise of adventure, the people, the unfamiliar foods. But coming home, I am reminded of the culinary comforts of home. My first dinner back wasn’t the typical dinner at home with my parents, but out with friends at one of my favourite places in the city. A number of us were seeing a close friend who now studies in the States, and she was presenting us her New American Boyfriend. This friend, V, is one of my favourite people. Not only because she’s sweet, funny and always knows how to make me smile, but also because she’s a fellow foodie. And more importantly for this post: she was the first one to  bring me to Terroni many years ago.

Since then, Terroni has become a staple in my Toronto dining experiences. It’s one of the first places I suggest when going out with a group. I bring friends from out of town, or I insist they go if I’m not free to take them myself. I love all of their locations – but have a soft spot for their Queen West location since that was the first one I went too with V.

If I’m in the mood for pizza, I typically go for the C’t Mang (see their menu here) but when it comes to being in the mood for pasta… I am a big fan of trying their daily specials. Last night, one day after coming back from Central America (also known as the land of Beans and Rice), pasta was a no brainer. I had a hard time deciding between two of the pasta specials : Gnocchi and Spaghetti with grilled zucchini and salted prosciutto. I went for the spaghetti. Typically I would add wine, but I was exhausted after my first day back and I’d landed the night before after 9pm, so all it would have done was make me tired.

The spaghetti wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, but it was particularly good after over a week of being denied good cheese, carbs in pasta form, Italian salty meats and cream sauce. I was so happy to be reunited with good cheese that I requested extra Parmesan, and our server obliged. The service was of the level that I have become accustomed too at Terroni : friendly waitstaff and  remarkably fast service. And patient. I’ve always appreciated that I never feel rushed out of Terroni. The wait which can be a problem at the Queen West location wasn’t an issue as we arrived before 7 mid week, but by 8 it was packed (as usual). If we had been unable to get reservations and it were a weekend, I would have insisted on the Adelaide Street location. The bar in the entrance wait area has made waiting for friends or a table seem like a pleasure. (I can’t say I have the same feelings about waiting at the Queen Street location).

Something I’ve always admired about Terroni, besides their service and consistently good food, is their pasta portions. After polishing off a plate of pasta, I still feel small pangs of hunger and so I proceed to clean off the remaining sauce with bread and I wonder why I didn’t also order a salad or side, or another pasta dish. But after a few minutes of socializing, I notice that I am no longer hungry at all, and that the portion was all I really needed.

Yet, overeating at Terroni is easy to do. There have been times when a starter is followed by a pasta or pizza and then dessert, and downed with two glasses of wine. But, yesterday was not one of those days. Yesterday I enjoyed the simple pleasure of a perfect bowl of pasta surrounded by some of my closest friends.

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