Home may be where the heart is…but who says he can’t have a vacation cottage?: Vecchio Frak
After a stressful day at work, serving strangers and refilling too many waters on the patio, I decided I needed a good hearty comfort-food meal. After growing up with an Italian background, in an Italian neighbourhood, comforting food doesn’t come to me in grilled cheese sandwiches or BBQ burgers, but in wood-oven thin crusted pizzas and fresh homemade pastas. You could understand why I felt the only suitable place to satisfy my cravings would be good ol’ College St. With a traffic-less drive, a lucky parking spot and a wind-filled wander, we ended up at Vecchio Frak, where we were warmly greeted by a familiar-looking host. In true mia casa è tua casa fashion, we were welcome to seat ourselves at any spot we favoured. The restaurant was just the right amount of European-chic–it didn’t make me feel under-dressed nor did it make me feel like I went through a time warp to the 80s. Unlike so many spots on College, the restaurant seemed to seat many without forcing you to rub elbows with other patrons. The interesting and lengthy drink list only triggered my indecisive tendencies, so I let the server (with the Italian accent–common among almost all the employees in this restaurant, and a weak spot for me) be my guide in beverage selection–and he read me all too well, sending me over a larger-than- life-sized version of my favourite cocktail: a pina colada. Antipastos definitely had us contemplating skipping entrees, but our decision not to was wise in the end. The perfectly flavoured bruschette miste was just soft enough (but not mushy) to keep the fresh toppings on the bread from becoming castaway victims to the plate. The tonno, olive e patate salad was not over dressed and the potatoes reminded me of the ones I used to cherish from the tavola calda at the Italian bakeries by my house. The Campolina pizza with mozzarella, truffle cream, mushrooms and eggplants was authentically rustic and thin–but not the thin that doesn’t go straight from dough to burnt. The truffle cream added that amazing flavour that only truffle can master and the eggplants were cooked just right, with the skin left on, but with not a hint of bitterness. The risotto alla pescatore was seasoned well and the rice was cooked perfectly al dente. Although the fish variety included much of the ocean, it seemed to be a little too al-dente itself. Our full stomachs forced us to pass on dessert. Instead we ended a pleasant evening with a Campari and soda and a Gaggia-made cappuccino. The simplicity of the experience made it ideal–friendly service, light and fresh fare in a favoured location. Added bonus? Discovering that the familiar host was a long-lost elementary school friend who just moved back to Canada after living in Italy for 8 years. Needless to say, my nostalgic cravings were more than thoroughly satisfied. A genuine offer to return by the staff will surely be accepted in the near future.
Check out my first food photo experience (eek) on my flickr account!