Tasting Little Italy

The Taste Of Little Italy kicked off on College St. last night.

Being that Little Italy is right outside our front door, and we had such a blast last year, we made a point of heading down to the festival for dinner.

Once we got to the top of the street, we made a beeline for the completely underrated, but absolutely fantastic chili lime grilled corn from Friendly Magnolia.  This corn was the one thing we were both really looking forward to, because we’d so thoroughly enjoyed it’s smoky, salty simplicity last year.  I was also excited for a second offering that the owner of Magnolia had mentioned to me recently; a homemade funnel cake stand!  I showed amazing restraint, and held off for a bit so that I could sample some of the other fare.

Walking around, the first thing you’ll probably notice is that Italian restaurants are no longer the majority in Little Italy anymore.  Over the years it’s become more of a multicultural area and festival, but you still have Il Centro Del Formaggio, Cafe Dip, and a few others slinging decent Italian food.  We stopped at an amazing little storefront next to Riviera Bakery called Bis Gourmet that had the best selection of Italian foods, so we camped out there and went to town.  Offering tomato and bocconcini salad, puffy mini pizzas, both meat and cheese cannelonis, prosciutto and melon, hot and sweet cacciatore sausages, and the piece de resistance, a whole porchetta splayed on the table, the Everyman and I knew we had possibly found our food nirvana.  We ordered a little of everything (except for the porchetta, which was served on a gut-filling bun, and the prosciutto and melon, which wasn’t available yet) and copped a squat in front of another storefront to dig in.  Both of the cannelonis were amazingly moist and flavourful, but the meat-filled one was the clear winner with it’s smooth and slightly creamy interior and tomato and cheese studded crust.  The tomato and bocconcini salad was passable, but we both found the cheese to be slightly rubbery and unpalatable.  The pizza was killer, and the cacciatore sausage (which we purchased to take home) tasted as good as the wild boar version we’d had at Negroni.

Wandering around to see what the rest of the street had on offer, I saw that Il Centro was selling homemade tiramisu.  I had a little mental argument over my dessert options, but in the end decided to stick with the funnel cake.  The Everyman was lured to a lemonade stand by a passerby sipping on a freshly pressed glass, and wound up with a rather tart and tangy limeade.  Strolling back up the street toward home, we stopped for a funnel cake, and I ordered myself a “premium” which came with strawberries, icing sugar and my choice of flavored sauce (I opted for caramel).  The strawberries were pretty gross; being overly macerated and scooped out of a giant vat, but the funnel cake was exactly as it had been advertised to me.  Light, airy, and exceptionally fresh, it’s heady vanilla scent had festival-goers eyeing me up greedily every time they walked past.  The thing was massive, and even with the Everyman’s help I only managed to eat half, but without the strawberries, it was incredibly decadent.  I could easily go back for another today and tomorrow.

Luckily, there was way too much food around to sample in just one go, so if the weather cooperates this weekend, I plan to return for more grilled corn and other gastronomic pleasures.  Tiramisu, here I come!

Until next time…

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