Today my friend invited me for a birthday lunch. Having a birthday party is great, because you get to to celebrate with people you love, and the people who couldn’t show for some reason treat you to lunch to make up for their absence. Food is probably the best gift anyways. Besides love and life and so on. Anyway… – this was my third birthday lunch and I was excited to try Trattoria Nervosa in Yorkville. Although a staple in Toronto’s Italian cuisine scene I have never managed to eat here. Located in the heart of Yorkville it occupies a whole turn of the century house, with patios upstairs and on the main floor. We were lucky enough to get one of the lasts spots in the middle of the lunch rush and were seated in the center of the second floor next to a lovely couple. The building gives it a European feel and the seating arrangement adds to it since you sit very close to one another and can eavesdrop on each others conversations. First it might be a bit uncomfortable, but if you have had the chance to go to Italy or France you’d know how close everyone sits next to each other.
The menu includes pizze, paste, dalla grillia – meat or fish dishes from the grill, salads, some appetizers and the special-of-the-day list. We opted for an appetizer and two paste since none of us was feeling like pizza (although the smell of their tomato sauce in the air was more than tempting). Polipo – octopus to start with, as well as the Mafalde al Funghi and Agnolotti di Zuccha.
To still our hunger our friendly server brought us some of the softest foccacia to entertain us until our appetizer arrived. Octopus is a difficult dish to prepare as it sometimes can be chewy. Nervosa managed to serve it soft and at room temperature which brought out its fantastic flavour. The lemon potatoes didn’t have a zesty taste to them and it would have been wonderful if they were slightly hotter, it would have complemented the lovely sauces and octopus better. The presentation of the dish made up for what I expected of these poor potatoes.
There was quite a time gap between our appetizer and the main courses, which we actually appreciated since we hadn’t seen each other in a while, so we used the time to chat. The presentation of the main courses was delightful, and the first bite of the agnolotti – heavenly. There’s hardly anything that can top the taste of butter. The crunchy pumpkin seed married well with the sweetness of the butternut squash filling, the parmigiano and sage added depth to the dish. Perfect. Now the Mafalde. If it hadn’t been for their low temperature they would have been just as delicious, but for some reason they arrived sub-lukewarm to the table. Nevertheless the tauce was excellent with a strong taste of truffle and a creaminess that didn’t weigh the dish down. The mafalde themselves were quite al dente, so if you like your pasta cooked more you might not enjoy the chewiness. I would have loved to see some more mushrooms thrown into the sauce, but it was very delectable the way it was served. All in all a very pleasant lunch, with wonderful staff, simple decor and classic dishes. I will definitely return, next time for pizza.
Trattoria Nervosa – lunch and dinner service, private dining and patio
75 Yorkville Avenue – 416 961 4642
Polipo – grilled octopus, lemon potatoes, chimichurri, tapenade, piquillo puree, arugula and fried capers.
Mafalde al Funghi – portobello, porcini, crimini, oyster mushrooms parmigiano truffle paste, cream sauce.
Agnolotti di Zuccha – butternut squash agnolotti, brown butter sauce sage green pumpkin seeds, parmigiano