Ba-Li Italiano restaurant review
I don’t really write posts like these but I’ve got a particular post in the waiting that’s very relative to a review of this new restaurant. Good timing, I guess.
Ba-Li Italiano is located at 1045 Steeles Ave West – more specifically in the Kiva’s plaza in the same unit where Hummus Hummus was (which is also the same place where Hakotel was… more on that in another post).
It advertises itself as Italian. The say they offer pasta, pizza, paninis and other Italian food that starts with a P).
I decided to go with three friends on a Saturday night. We made a reservation for 9. We got there on time but… it seemed that someone had sat in our spots. Now upon looking around at the place and noticing only one waitress, I wanted to give her a break on this (and instead judge every patron in the joint for potentially being the ones who took out tables). But it is the restaurant’s duty to make sure a reserved table is in fact reserved. I wasn’t too upset but still… Not a great first impression.
But I get it though. Kosher restaurants in the city – particularly the newer ones – are very far from perfect when it comes to service (that’s an understatement). So even going in I anticipated potentially shotty service.
On a better note, when we did walk in, facing the entrance behind the counter was the kitchen. No barriers or walls – just right in your face. I though that was cool. You could even see the wood oven where they make the wood burned pizzas. A friend with me immediately recognized one of the chefs and was pleased to see him (I paraphrase: “that man does food well.”)
The place gives off a mid-to-upscale Italian vibe. Wooden chairs with cushions, black wooden tables and a red leather bench along the wall. Red and black. Can’t go wrong with that. There’s also a seemingly unnecessary bar in the back. We thought about sitting there while waiting but chances were we’d lose focus and have more jerks steal our spots.
After half an hour of waiting we finally took our spots. While waiting we determined what we wanted, so not to waste anymore time. Great options upon looking at the menu (photos below).
Three of us decided to split three main courses and a side of poutine. Why the poutine? We saw it coming out of the kitchen while we were waiting and it looked delicious. And it was. Even after waiting at least another 30-40 mins for it. (The waiting as you can tell is a recurring theme during our experience.)
Before getting our food we were given complimenatry chibatta bread with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. They were also good but I was confused when they gave us three pieces for a table of four.
We ended up getting the cheese and tomatoe sauce calzone, wild mushroom wood-oven pizza and the homemade ravioli. Pizza and calzone came out on a wooden serving platter with a slicer.
I gotta say… Every dish was very good. The calzone crust wasn’t too thick and the pizza crust want too thin. The ravioli was hands down the best dish. As told by one of my friends, ravioli isn’t the easiest dish to get right but they nailed it.
The fourth gentleman got a penne with vodka rose sauce. He actually thought they got the sauce wrong and that it was too bitter. Upon request, the chef came out and gave him a new dish, which didn’t take too long to make. It was better but still probably the weakest of the dishes we had.
Between those four dishes the three of us paid $20 each. Not bad really.
A friend who went before me recommended the tiramisu for desert but they were sold out that night of it. Disappointed.
In conclusion, it was a better than worse experience. The food (and wonderful company) made up for service shortcomings. Best case scenario they get they’re act together and get more help and they’ll be fine (for a calendar year and maybe a bit more… Can you blame us for our pessimism? The track record in this city is brutal.) Worst case scenario: they don’t get it and the bad service turns into its overarching reputation instead of the food (like another certain failed Mexican joint…)
Go check it out soon.
Read more: Toronto Kosher Restaurant Outtakes