You may have seen them recently at Toronto Taste or will see them at Taste of Toronto. But now you can find them at their newly re-launched location at Queen Street W. After a 2 year hiatus, Noce re-opened their restaurant earlier this year in January. They have re-vamped the space that extends to a room with a polished marbled bar and minimalistic light fixtures that extend in different direction. Big windows beam throughout the elusive space, and brighten up the sophisticated decor by Emily Cade. The reason for their renovation? They wanted to open up the bar again, which was previously a private room. To kick it up a notch, they invited Michele Maffei over to take over the bar, who was also the master mixologist at Aria – a sister restaurant of Noce.
To match the ambiance, Noce’s specialty lies in traditional Italian food with bold flavours and carefully selected ingredients. One of their off-menu specials includes scallops on an Il Forno (wood-fired pizza), a thin-crust pizza laced with seared scallops from British Columbia, wild leeks, garlic cream, roasted eggplant puree, and red pepper sauce. The locally-grown leeks added a pleasant garlic-crossed-onion flavour to the pizza. The garlic mascarpone cream poured overtop was heavenly. It was one of the most beautifully tasting pizzas I’ve ever had.
My favourite dish at Noce was La Tartare di Tonno Rosso ($19), an elaborately plated tuna tartare with sweet elements. It had light touches of fennel pollen, wood-fired pineapple, passion fruit honey vinaigrette. Topped with basil and mint garnishes, it was a delightful treat.
An underlying theme to their menu-items is wood-fired grill cooking method, which adds a subtle smokey taste. Noce takes pride in the meat they serve to diners, which are sourced from Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe – a network of local farmers. The believe in quality, in not only their cooking methods, but also their product; antibiotic & hormone-free, and naturally raised. The restaurant carries a diversity of meats, ranging from ribeye to halibut. What caught my attention was their Polipo Alla Grigalia ($25), a succulent Moroccan octopus dish that is also served at Aria. The grilled meat is served with an impeccable butter bean ragout and green garlic salsa verde.
Michele Maffei, is the ultimate cocktail connaisseur. You can feel his passion for the art of mixology with the immense amount of knowledge for wine and liquor and his extensive participation in cocktail competitions such as Made with Love. One memorable drink I tried was an imported wine from Italy: Barolo Chinato Montanaro. It tastes like a decadent cherry chocolate. Another of our favourite cocktails was “For a Piece of Charcoal” ($14), a stiff concoction made up of Jose Cuervo Tradicional, Cointreau, Drambuie, Laphoraig, lemon and of course, charcoal.
When you’re at Noce, you’re welcomed with exceptional compassion and warmth. Everyone is knowledgeable and selective on ingredients in providing the best for their guests. Their elaborate selection of cocktails are so prettily decorated and are curated with true sentiment, just like their dishes.
Photos by Nick Lee & Janey Tso