Restaurant: Jamie’s Italian Yorkdale
Location: 3401 Dufferin Street, Unit 20, Toronto, ON M6A 2T9
Price Range: $$
Jamie Oliver. I remember watching him for the first time on his Food Network’s cooking show. Back then the show featured Oliver presenting home-style and easy recipes, with many ingredients grown organically from his home garden in Essex. I liked him instantly. Overtime I also loved his philosophy on food, which can be found through some of his shows like Jamie’s Food Revolution to his Ted’s Talk, “Teach Every Child About Food.”
For his first restaurant in Canada at Yorkdale shopping mall center, Jamie Oliver partnered with King Street Food Company, known for Toronto’s Bar Buca and Jacob Steakhouse and the restaurant has been attracting crowds since it first opened a month ago. As Tien (acornerkitchen) and I were both a huge fan of Jamie Oliver, we decided to drag Arnold (Lantography) and Kexin to Jamie’s Italian so we can order more food with four people dining ;). I must say, the restaurant was spacious with two dining floors and a small “market” where one can buy some Oliver’s branded items.
Onto the menu, there are quite a lot of options and it’s great for large groups. I really liked that you could order a half portion of pasta, which allows you to try 2-3 different pastas in one meal if you prefer.
We all decided to order a bunch of appetizers and half portion of pasta to share. The garlic bread was one of the first dish to arrive and it was quite interesting how they used nann bread instead of the usual chunky slice of bread. All four of us were definitely not impressed with this dish at all. Instead of getting nice chunks of garlic, we were overwhelmed by the amount of rosemary topped on the bread. The ricotta was creamy but the lemon was undetectable.
The deep fried king oyster mushrooms were expertly breaded and packed with flavors. I liked the slight touch of paprika in the garlic mayo which added just enough heat. Squeeze some lemon for an acidic component to those meaty bites and you are in for a real treat!
I love the use of fennel here. It was aromatic with a little-bit-spicy anise flavor that brought out the freshness of the crab. With that said, I found the crab to be too salty because of the capers, which was actually a common theme with some of the dishes throughout our lunch.
The arancini had a thin, crackling-crisp coating that just barely contained the flow of rice suspended in a creamy sauce. In the very middle was a pocket of a slightly melted mozarella cheese. I loved the balance between tartness and spiciness from the margherita sauce which cut down the richness of the risotto rice balls.
The pasta at the restaurant is handmade daily and they were all consistently al dente in our dishes! Again the chef was too heavy-handed on the capers here, otherwise all of the ingredients in the dish really highlighted the freshness of the perfectly cooked crab.
The porcini fettuccine along with the fresh crab spaghetti were easily my favorite pasta of the lunch. The mushrooms in the porcini fettuccine was delectable: still retained the flavors and firm, and not mushy in the creamy sauce. It also came with some breadcrumbs to sprinkle on top for some crunch as well. The sauce was thick and creamy and delicious or as Jamie Oliver would say: beu-a-full!
The prawn linguine is perhaps one of the most famous/known dish from Jamie Oliver, however I was quite disappointed that the tomato sauce was too salty and spicy which really overpowered the delicate flavor of the prawns.
For dessert I decided to order an Italian classic: tiramisu. The version at Jamie Oliver was a bit different with fresh orange zest being mixed with the mascarpone and garnished on the cake itself. Also, instead of lady fingers, sponge cakes were used and they were drenched in espresso. The sweet and tangy orange flavours brought out the nuttiness in the espresso flavour and also gives the dessert a lightness and playfulness that is so indicative of talented and fun-loving Jamie Oliver.
Kexin ordered the epic brownie for dessert, and it truly lives up to its name. I loved the nice contrast of sweet and cold vanilla gelato against the warm and gooey dark chocolate brownie. Epic.
Affogato is such a simple dessert and Jamie’s Italian Canada got it right. Love the blend of hot and cold elements and I also sort of love how it’s a very adult dessert with the addition of espresso and some crunches from the crumbled biscotti. However Tien mentioned that he would have liked it more if the gelato portion was bigger.
I will be honest with you guys, I think the restaurant atmosphere was great and it is super family friendly. I really appreciate the consideration for kids – high chairs, interactive toys and menus for children, and a family washroom on the main floor with space for strollers. However the food was either too salty or spicy for all 4 of us, thus it really didn’t blow my mind like Bar Buca or other restaurants by King Street Food Company. Maybe I expected too much, like Jamie Oliver was going to cook for me (I know, silly me..). With that being said, the service was amazingly attentive and the restaurant just opened not too long ago, it still have rooms for improvement and I would come back here for dinner one day.