Little Italy's Casa Paco feels like one big dinner party

We check out the new Clinton Street casa for Italian flavours, Spanish flair and a whole lot of homey hospitality. Plus, Paella Sundays never hurt. 

Casa Paco: The vibe

Strolling along Clinton Street, you might mistake Casa Paco for another red brick Little Italy rowhouse. But tucked behind the cream casement windows and charming french doors is a homey restaurant, adorned with beloved plant babies, sentimental family photographs and vintage knickknacks, that'll fool you into thinking it's been in the neighbourhood for years.

Casa Paco Toronto | a set table

"It feels like we're throwing back-to-back dinner parties," says Caroline Chinery, who co-owns the restaurant with its three (and only) other team members: chef Rob Bragagnolo; Tommy Conrad, who manages the bar; and Ailbhe McMahon, who steers the front of house. And boy, do they know how to host. Settle into the back booth — a 150 year old church pew — and prepare yourself for one heck of a service.

Casa Paco Toronto | The co-owners

Casa Paco: The menu

After living in Mallorca for a decade, Bragagnolo and Chinery, partners in life and business, brought a taste of Spain to Toronto diners for years at their expansive restaurant Labora. Then, burnout struck.

Casa Paco's more intimate feel is the antidote they needed. The concise, weekly printed menu is a mix of Bragagnolo's Italian upbringing with the team's shared love and appreciation for Spanish flavours: charcoal grilled fish glistening with olive oil; salty boquerones; incomprehensibly perfect handmade bread; and the rich, slightly nutty taste of 100 per cent jamon iberico — and that's just the starters.

Casa Paco Toronto | Pasticcio di funghi

Mains like Chinery's hand-rolled gnocchi and Bragagnolo's family's prized, Venetian-style pasticcio di funghi (like a lasagna, but with thin crepe layers) are as comforting and flawless as Stanley Tucci on my TV screen.

Casa Paco Toronto | Assortment of dishes

Casa Paco: The paella 

Forget brunch — Casa Paco has "Paella Sunday,'' which could put any plate of sad congealed eggs to shame. Every Sunday, starting at 1 p.m., you can choose either seafood, roast chicken or seasonal veg paella.

They also have a smaller menu on offer that day with an array of plates like wood fired octopus or charcoal grilled dover sole with liquid gold pil pil sauce — emulsified hot oil that's dripped off the fish.

Casa Paco Toronto | Shrimp paella

Casa Paco: The drinks

For more savoury swills, drink your dessert with Casa Paco's extensive amaro selection, or cocktails like the Boca Raton, a luscious mix of rum, coconut amaretto and coffee liquor with a thick float of cinnamon cream. 

Ailbhe McMahon has put together a lush wine list that leans on the Mediterranean side with many bottles from Spain, Italy and Portugal. You can find familiar faves like Chianti Classico alongside rarer beauties like a skin contact "Liquid Sundowner" blend from Hungary.

Dinner and drinks for two: Around $150 before tax and tip.

Casa Paco, 50c Clinton St.,